Injustice and racism has been a part of our country since 1619 when slavery began in the U.S. and has not left since. Despite equal rights protests throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, the Black community still sees frequent violence against their community today. However, modern advancements such as phones and social media are opening the eyes of others.
It is our responsibility as citizens to use our voices and resources to help make a change. Idly standing by as the police unjustly murder Black people, such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, in the U.S. will not invoke change.
There are a multitude of ways to help create change in our justice system to fight police brutality and uplift the Black community:
Over the last week and a half, massive amounts of people have been gathering in major cities as well as their own communities around the world.
Look for protest locations on social media and don’t be afraid to ask other students about the next one near you. In Pasadena, students and residents have been gathering at City Hall, as well as along Colorado and Fair Oaks. Get in contact with people in our community to see when you can join.
Make sure to bring a sign, a mask and necessary supplies to keep you and others around you safe.
2. Sign Petitions
There are many petitions that you can sign to show your support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight to end police brutality. Some petitions to sign include:
Justice for George Floyd petition, via change.org, to fire and press charges against police responsible for Floyd’s death.
Defund The Police petition, via Black Lives Matter, to help focus funding on the communities and hold law enforcement accountable for their brutality against Black individuals.
Justice for Breonna Taylor petition, via change.org, to fire and press charges against the police who murdered Taylor and to compensate her family for negligence and wrongful death.
Donate to the multitude of organizations that are there to support the Black community:
Black Lives Matter fights to end state-sanctioned violence, liberate Black people and end white supremacy forever.
Bail Project helps post bail for people who cannot afford it.
4. Email or call your elected officials and police departments
Make sure to email and call our local officials about problems within our system. Voice your opinion on what changes need to be made.
For example, on June 1, many people supporting the Black Lives Matter movement called and emailed L.A. county officials about the new prospective county budget, which would give the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) a 7% increase in funding. However, due to the “Defund the Police” movement along with citizens’ voices, Mayor Eric Garcetti cut funding by $100-$150 million.
There are many more located throughout Pasadena and L.A. Make sure to be mindful of the businesses you shop or dine at. Shopping at Black-owned businesses and incorporating them into your daily shopping routines can help to uplift the community.
6. Learn the history and educate yourself
To learn about the struggles of the Black community, the history of racism and a multitude of other topics, turn to reading.
To name a few books:
“White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo
“Me and White Supremacy” by Layla F. Saad
“So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
“Black Feminist Thought” by Patricia Hill Collins
“How to be Antiracist” by Ibram Kendi
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou
“The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander
Watch (few of many):
“Dear White People” on Netflix
“When They See Us” on Netflix
“The Hate U Give” on Hulu
“Moonlight” on Netflix
“Selma” to rent
“13th” on Netflix
7. Have hard conversations with your friends and family
It is very common for family members to share different points of views, and as protests and police brutality continue, difficult conversations may have to take place between friends and family.
What is important is that you do not shy away from having these conversations. It is often hard to watch rifts form between your close relationships, but this is why maintaining a level head while entering this discussion is key. Yes, we are often very passionate about fighting injustice in the world, but immediately yelling at your family or friends may not always be the best approach if you wish to stay close with them.
Encourage them to practice empathy and learn about the history of racism, social injustice and the corrupt police system. Instruct them to stop perpetuating microaggressions and using slurs and encourage them to be an ally.
Letters for Black Lives is a useful tool when communicating with family members who do not fully understand the cause of Black Lives Matter. This resource provides letters that are available in a multitude of different languages.
While some people will not change their ways and damage can be done to relationships, never stop having these conversations.
8. Reflect on your words
It is important to be aware of your word choices and what you say when discussing the protests and racism.
Look at Donald Trump for example—he referred to protesters as “thugs” in a tweet, showing no compassion or understanding for those fighting for justice.
It is important when communicating about events that take place as well. The peaceful protests are not riots and should not be referred to as such. Protesters are not “thugs” and white supremacy is not simply prejudice. It goes deeper and we need to acknowledge that.
Often, non-POC people do not realize their microaggressions, and it is important to educate others about them and discourage such behavior. “Not seeing color” disregards and denies the inequalities and racism that POC face as well as their cultural differences, just like how “all lives matter” denies the racism, police brutality and unjust and unjust murder that Black people face.
9. Offer vocal support through social media
If you are having trouble with any other ways to show support, being vocal on social media is a small act that can go a long way.
Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions on your feed. Post helpful resources such as the ones listed above or spread important videos of peaceful protests or police brutality. This will help to spark important conversations and provide information to those who may not have it otherwise.
Spreading videos through social media gives people new perspectives because it provides a new viewpoint and content they have not seen before, such as inhumane actions of the police. The recording and sharing of injustices caught on video will help bring those harmed to justice and promote a call for change.
Also, follow social justice advocates such as Black Lives Matter, the NAACP and Civil Rights Organization on various social media platforms to stay informed and to widen their platform.
Voting ensures that your voice is being heard and allows you to elect people into office who share similar goals. Vote in local elections as well as presidential ones.
Start by making sure you are registered to vote. Be aware of where and when primaries and elections will be taking place and of course, make sure to research the officials who are running.