On May 25th, 2020, hip hop artist, father of 5, and beloved son George Floyd was unlawfully killed by Minneapolis police, with the scene of Floyd’s death being caught on camera. Although the Black Lives Matter movement was founded in 2013, the mere name of the civil disobedient political group has been a global battle cry more than ever this year, ultimately sparked by the death of Mr. Floyd. In addition to the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbury, Elijah McClain, Jacob Blake, and an overwhelming amount of black lives lost in the last few years, “black lives matter” has become a less contested statement and a recognized and truthful declaration.
Despite the alarming statistics concerning Black deaths and the Black Lives Matter movement garnering international support in the last several months, a Pew Researcher report highlighted by CNN showed that the public support for the movement has dropped by 13% between the months of June and September of this year. Moreover, a drastic dip of 29% was seen amongst strong supporters within only 6 days of September. With the recent, devasting injustices of the Breonna Taylor decision, the decrease in national support of Black Lives Matter, and the upcoming presidential election, it is crucial to continue to recognize and affirm Black lives. Here is a list of things you can be doing right now to help because Black lives still matter.
Amplifying Black Voices, Making a Statement, & Speaking Out
It is important to amplify black voices today, especially in a world that tends to appreciate Black culture and disregard Black livelihood. Speak up about the injustices Black people face by sharing information, art, and work amassed and created by Black individuals. Make a statement about why police brutality, black and brown murders, and anti-blacknesses is harming everyone, but especially those affected by it. Sharing and using your talents, gifts, and skills to offer perspective is the first step, so continue to do so in a positive way.
While speaking out is the first step, the second and most crucial step in enacting change begins with educating yourself. Being ignorant of the history and root causes for why people say Black lives matter will leave you blind and less motivated to do anything in the harsh climate we’re living in today. Educating ourselves on the law and reading and watching content by Black creators provides a better understanding of how history has repeated itself and the solutions to the stockpile of issues Black people are facing at the moment. Here are several ways and plenty of resources to utilize and get started.
1. Defunding the Police & Knowing Your Rights: To “defund the police” is a slogan and hopeful action plan that simply aims to reallocate funds from police budgets and equitably invest them into governmental institutions, like education, housing, public health, etc. The reality is defunding the police isn’t a new concept and many Black people in this nation haven’t and don’t feel protected by police for many years now. Defunding the police will help underprivileged communities in sectors like education and housing whilst avoiding the feared interactions many people have with law enforcement on a daily basis. Here are resources that will help with defunding the police and laws to know when stopped by police.
2. Literature: Empathy is a true skill that can be fostered over time, especially through the likes of literature. Poetry, novels, and plays provide a great role in understanding the human condition and help with learning something new. Fighting for Black lives didn’t just begin yesterday–it began decades and decades ago and creatively recorded through text and performance. Here is a list that can help!
- Black Lives Matter Poetry:
- A Black Lives Matter Reading List:
- Teen Reads List Inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement:
- 12 Streamable Plays That Depict Black Lives Pierced by Racism:
3. Film & Television: Just like literature, film and television over the years has given us insight into the Black experience. With different genres, time periods, and stories, the multiplicity of Black stories have shared the universal Black experience of being “bothered“. Check out this list for more information!
- Netflix’s Black Lives Matter Collection
- Hulu’s Black Stories Compilation
- 7 Movies About Police Brutality & Systemic Racism Directed by Black Filmmakers
- Imitation of Life (1959)
- 13 TV Episodes That Teach Kids About Racism, Prejudice, and Privilege
4. Podcasts: Podcasts have been all the rage the last few years, as they are super convenient with so many podcasts existing for every and any niche. Here are a couple of resources with lists of podcasts that deal with anti-racism and the Black Lives Matter movement.
- 9 Podcasts on Racism: Understanding The Black Lives Matter Movement
- 10 Anti-Racist Podcasts and Talks That Are Helping Me Become a Better Ally
5. Speeches: Throughout history, civil rights has given us incredible speeches that stay prevalent for generations to come. Here are old and new speeches that help with understanding the concept of #BlackLivesMatter and the plight faced by Black people in the United States today.
- James Baldwin’s “Black Lives Matter” Speech
- Black murder is normal | Michael Smith | TEDxJacksonville
- How Can We Win
6. Articles & Social Media Content: Today, online articles and social media platforms are the main ways everyone gets their information. Here is lists of compilations of solutions, conversations, and accounts to follow centering around police brutality and Black Lives Matter.
- 15 Things Your City Can Do Right Now to End Police Brutality
- 25 Anti-Racist Instagram Accounts to Follow for Listening, Learning and Action-Taking
- ‘Someone Else Was Killed By The Police On My Timeline. What Can I Do?’
- THE GRAPEVINE | WHEN THEY SEE US | S4E21
- Black Lives Matter Just Entered Its Next Phase
Protesting With Caution & Safety
A transformative and historical aspect of the United States has always been protesting. The Boston Tea Party, Women’s Suffrage Movement, The March on Washington, Stonewall Riots, and The March of Our Lives are major protests that have changed our country for the better. The George Floyd protests similarly will go down in history for playing a pivotal role in police reform and race relations in the U.S. And it’s still happening. Here are ways to protest with caution and safety.
1. Stay hydrated: No matter the season, staying hydrated during a protest is a must. Keeping your brain replenished and not depending on the feeling of thirst to drink water is important. To keep moving and making a difference means to recharge. Take care of yourself.
2. Have a face mask & backpack on you: It is important to remind ourselves that we are still in a pandemic, so please keep a face mask on you. Also, keep a backpack for the safekeeping of information and supplies to help you get through the day.
3. Don’t take pictures or videos of protesters: Taking pictures of protesters puts people at risk of being further targeted by law enforcement. With the technological advancements in facial recognition and the usage of photos as evidence, it is safer to put the camera away during a protest.
4. Carry an ID with you: In case of emergencies or you are actually stopped by police, it is safe to carry an ID with you. Make sure to do this and assure your right to peacefully protest as a citizen.
5. Practical shoes & appropriate clothing: Protesting can be long and, depending on the weather, hot, cold, rainy, muddy, etc, you need the right attire for the season. Check the weather forecast to wear the right shoes and clothes before you protest.
6. Unique & Effective Protest Signs: You can’t attend a protest without a protest sign. Just make sure your sign truly speaks to what you believe by making it unique to your sentiments and effective with it’s messaging.
While protesting is an important and amazing experience to bring about change, for those that are disabled, feel unsafe, or want to provide at a protest, volunteering is a great route for you. Here are ways you can volunteer before, during, and outside of protesting.
1. Making masks for protestors: This is a very helpful way to volunteer and help protesters by prioritizing everyone’s health. Making cute and “protesty” face masks is a way to anonymously and silently protest through care.
2. Offer Your Expertise: You might be a lawyer, medical provider, food caterer/chef, an artist, etc. Whatever talent or skill you have, use it as a way to help protesters. Offering to represent or give legal advice, providing food and drinks, making signs, healing wounds, etc. Your calling makes a difference for the greater good.
3. Mobilize Against Racism: Mobilize Against Racism is a site that refers you to local gatherings, socials, and groups to further educate and be anti-racist as a collective.
An easy way to make a difference is by signing petitions. The number of people who support change and demand justice will always go unnoticed. The Black Lives Matter movement and Change.org have been great resources to sign petitions and get the word across the nation.
3. Justice for Breonna Taylor: With the recent Breonna Taylor decision, many people believe justice was still not served. Here are Breonna Taylor petitions to sign, as well as corresponding links to call legislators to make a change. Here is an additional link to Breonna’s story.
A major way to help affirm that Black and Brown lives matter is to donate to important funds to support communities of color locally and nationally. Here is a list that can help with that.
Supporting Black-Owned Businesses
Supporting Black-owned businesses helps Black families, households, and communities to provide the best care and resources that were once and still unavailable to the Black community. This is a huge way of creating systemic change from a foundational level. Here is a variety of Black-owned businesses to check out and most definitely support!
Voting & Contacting Officials
2020 is an election year, with the date coming up this fall on Tuesday, Nov. 3rd. It is important to register to vote, know who you’re voting for, and what candidates you want to represent your ideals. Police reform, political changes, and your rights can be taken to Washington by electing the right representatives, senators, and President.