Let me start by making one thing clear: Black Lives Matter. Always.
There are so many better and more extensive resources out there, and I encourage you to find those. But staying silent about racism and police brutality is not an option anymore. I am speaking as a white woman in an attempt to share what I have been doing in response to these tragic and unjust events. I am speaking up to tell you to listen to others and examine your own thoughts and behavior. It is not my intention to speak over Black people.
Please do not value anything I say on this subject over the words of anyone who has actually experienced these things. Listen to what Black people are saying, but don’t expect them to educate you or answer all of your questions. Especially ones that you can google and learn on your own.
There are many things that can be done and must be done. Here are a few of the things that I have been doing, and I hope they serve as an inspiration for you to take action as well.
Read books written by Black authors in any genre that interests you. These books might make us uncomfortable, but it is important to listen and learn from them. I know these books are on countless reading lists because many people are trying to educate themselves. They are probably hard to find right now (I haven’t bought all the ones on my list yet) because of the increased demand but keep checking. Keep them on your TBR, and look for them in independent and used book stores.
I’m aiming for a mix of educational/non-fiction and fiction books by Black authors. They’re all important, whether their race is a focus of the book or not. This should not be considered a fad or a trend. Don’t think you’re ‘done’ because you read one book and checked the box. For me, I am committing to educating myself and read from more diverse sources. Books are an excellent opportunity to learn about other people’s perspectives and life experiences. Here are the books that I’m starting with:
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
- Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby
- Bad Feminist by Roaxane Gay
- All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
- Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves by Glory Edim
- The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
- Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora by Sheree Thomas
I’d say the majority of the entertainment that I consume regularly comes from YouTube videos, so this is an obvious place where diversity is important. The same can be said for any social media platform you spend a lot of time on. It may be podcasts, Twitter or Instagram accounts, or websites. A while ago, I realized that many of the people I was following looked like me (middle-class white women), and I knew that was unacceptable. I made an effort to find new channels and support a wider variety of creators. I wasn’t really looking to branch out content-wise, so I looked for people who were posting videos similar to the ones I was already watching. For me, this meant booktubers and vloggers who talk about lifestyle/wellness topics.
Here are a few of my favorite Black YouTubers:
Zoe from Zoe’s All Booked
I love Zoe’s energy and the f-word counter that frequently appears in her videos. She makes me want to read every book that she mentions. She also has a newborn son who is super adorable!
Myonna from myonna reads
Myonna is one of my newer subscriptions, so I’ve only watched a handful of her videos so far. I appreciate her honesty about her experiences in the community and her willingness to speak up about it. She also reads a ton of books and has a lot of great recommendations.
Janea from jnaydaily
I know I am going to have a smile on my face by the end of Janea’s videos. She’s got impeccable interior design taste and is in the process of decorating her new apartment. Janea doesn’t take life too seriously and the bubbly vibe in her videos is so contagious.
Kim from TheChicNatural
Kim’s videos range from makeup and hair tutorials to vegan recipes and fashion content. I subscribed for her hair tutorials, honestly because I was ignorant about how to style textured hair, and she is a great teacher. She always looks so put together! I also love her ‘What I eat in a day’ videos for some vegan meal inspiration.
This video specifically with Bob the Drag Queen and Peppermint on Why you should say Black Lives Matter
Bob and Peppermint were both contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race, and I had no idea that they’d moved to YouTube! I think this is part of a larger series, but this was a really important conversation. A lot of good points were made, and hearing things from their perspectives helped me learn a lot.
There are petitions for a wide variety of issues like holding police officers accountable for their actions, demanding justice for Black victims, changing laws, speaking to representatives, and much more. Signing petitions is one of the fastest things you can do to make your voice heard. Once you have an account (I’ve mainly been using change.org), you can sign as many as you want with a single click for each. There are endless ways to find lists of petitions, and I think this is a great use of spare time.
This is another one where you can look up lists that are much more extensive than what I can provide. I want to listen to the people who need help and know the best ways to do so. If you can, donating is a great way to help. There are countless organizations, including mutual aid and bail funds, that can all benefit from your contribution. It can be a local charity in your area or a nationwide one like Black Lives Matter. One-time donations are valuable, but it can be even better to set up a recurring donation if possible.
Here is a popular link for resources that has been going around that I think is a good place to start.
The Minnesota Freedom Fund has played an important role in bringing justice for George Floyd and many others. They have been overwhelmed with support and I believe have enough to cover their immediate needs.
Some other assorted things you can do
- Re-evaluate your sense of humor – Slurs and racist jokes aren’t humor. Think about why you would laugh when people say these things or when you say them yourself, and do better. Someone’s race is not a punchline or an excuse to stereotype them. Call out racist ‘comedy’ when you see it and make it clear that it’s not funny.
- Share helpful and informative content – About how to protest safely, news stories, or anything relevant really. I personally don’t like spreading videos with violence but you absolutely can. As a white person, consider amplifying the voices of Black people instead of talking in a way that makes the issue about yourself.
- Take breaks for self-care – And other necessary tasks. Recognize your privilege in being able to step away from things that are upsetting. Some people don’t have that luxury. Black people don’t get to ‘take a break’ from their skin color or the horrifying consequences they can have for just being themselves.
- Avoid aimless guilt – Just feeling bad won’t help. Use that guilt to fuel action and make a change.
All lives don’t matter until black lives do.
This is the first time that I’ve spoken up publicly about racial injustice. I’m sure that what I’ve said isn’t perfect. Please let me know if there is anything offensive or wrong in this post, and I will be happy to correct it. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope it will inspire you to take action. There are many, many horrible events that should not have happened, and I give my condolences to anyone who has been affected by police brutality.