Black lives matter. Today and every day. The injustices we are currently fighting should not even need to be a topic of discussion. The murder of George Floyd is a human rights issue, just like the murders of Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown—and so, so, so many others.
I want to be clear that this goes far beyond police brutality. We are fighting against the racism that runs rampant in our country—and all over the world. There is so much to be said on this issue. There is so much for white people to learn about racism and what the black community experiences. There are so many resources that need to be shared. I’ve done my best to put everything together here, in one comprehensive space. I will continue to update with new information, so please share anything you think needs to be added.
Not being racist is not enough. We need to be actively anti-racist.
- First and foremost we need to listen to the black community. Listen to their stories, listen to what they want and need from people, listen to how they want to move forward…Listen. It is not our job to tell black people how to feel or the best way to protest or the best action items for how to get justice. It is our job to listen—and then support.
- We need to speak out, not over. While it’s important to speak about racial issues, often times white voices drown out the voices of the black community. Use your voice when it’s needed, like when you’re with your racist family members or other white people.
- Use your privilege. We are obligated to put our white privilege to good use. Spend your time and money and do something. Donate to victims’ families. Show up to protests. Physically place yourself between a black person and a cop if there’s an altercation. Actions speak louder than words. Using your privilege means you have to do more than say “Black lives matter” and move on. That is not enough—that’s performative activism and does not achieve anything.
- Learn about the realities of racism in America today. There is systematic racism, overt racism, and covert racism. Research the myriad of ways the black community is impacted each and every day and over time. And it’s not their job to teach you—educate yourself.
- Continue your support. It’s not okay to be up in arms about Black Lives Matter only when there are protests or widespread rage. This is something you need to advocate for and support long after the outrage has died down.
- Stop sharing traumatic content online. The video of both George Floyd’s and Ahmaud Arbery’s murders went viral which was critical in getting them arrested. However, it’s insensitive and dehumanizing, so it’s better to avoid sharing these photos and videos.
- When you’re posing about BLM and racial injustices, please, please, please, stop making it about yourself. I’ve seen so many white influencers posting statements starting off with “I haven’t been able to find the words…” or “This has been a really tough couple of days,” etc. If you’re white, you need to stop making this about you. Don’t add in your personal experiences or try to relate—now is not the time and it takes away from the severity of the issue.
There is plenty more you can do as a white person to fight for racial justice. Contact elected officials to express concerns over current instances of racial injustice. Volunteer with local organizations to help first-hand. Show up to marches and protests. Work with your local Black Lives Matter group. Donate to appropriate organizations. Support politicians who fight for people of color.
- Recognize that this not solely about George Floyd’s murder. This is pent-up anger and frustration due to the countless cases of police brutality, mass incarceration, a racist criminal justice system, no reparations, and much, much more. This is anger from a long history of voices going unheard.
- Stop saying things like “violence isn’t the answer” or “looting and rioting isn’t going to achieve anything.” It’s not our job as white people to act as referees and police black people on how to respond in this situation. Also, you must be forgetting all of the times rioting did achieve results. The Boston Tea Party, Stonewall, and the Kent State Riots are just a few examples.
- Stop saying “this would have been taken seriously if it were peaceful.” No, that’s the problem. BLM protests have been peaceful for years, and look where we are. Colin Kaepernick was as peaceful as you can possibly get, and look how he was treated. MLK was peaceful and he was assassinated. Why is it only people who never advocated for BLM before are saying this now? Why are you more upset over property than the lives of black people? Why, if you were never acting as an ally before, are you suddenly an MLK stan and using him to preach peace? And what, exactly, did you think “no justice, no peace” meant?
- Every protest that I have personally been to and heard about has been peaceful right up until the cops show up. It is well documented online that they are the ones agitating protestors and starting the violence with tear gas and rubber bullets—completely unprovoked. This is purposeful and intended to heighten the emotions.
- Please stop showing up to these protests and acting like it’s a party. We are mourning the deaths of black men and women and are here to demand change. What are you so happy about? We are there to support the black community. March, chant, and be ready to get in between a black protestor and a cop. Anything else is overstepping.
- If you are approached by someone from the media while at a protest and they ask you for an interview (and you’re white), please direct them to a black person to give the interview instead. This is not our story to tell.
- Please do not post photos or videos from protests with other protestors faces in them. In the years following the Ferguson riots, multiple protestors ended up dying unexpectedly or under weird conditions. Here is an article about it. We have since learned that privacy at protests is extremely important.
On that note, there are many black owned businesses that have been ruined in the riots. If you’d like to help them, here are places for you to donate to:
- Scores Sports Bar
- Bolé Ethiopian Cuisine
- Juiced Up Vapors
- Somali Museum of Minnesota
- Dez Deme House of Styles
- Guns and Roses Boutique
- Go Get It Tobacco
- Somali-owned business
- Mama Safia’s Kitchen
- Optimism IC
- Du Nord Craft Spirits
- Black Business Minnesota Fundraiser
More small businesses to help (either owned by non-black people or unsure):
- Rebuild San Bernardino
- El Sabor Chuchi
- El Taco Riendo
- Family-owned car shop
- Lloyd’s Pharmacy
- Town Talk Gastropub
- Hamburguesas El Gordo
- Midori’s Floating World Café
- Friedman’s Department Store
- Cal Surf
- Nguyen Architects
- Family-owned shop
- Emily’s Eatery
- Carniceria La Huazteca
- Clientele Barbershop
- Flanders Bros Cycle
- Joyeria Jelly
- Lake Street Clean
- Twin Cities Recovery Project
- Rebuilding Minneapolis
- Small Businesses on Lake Street
- Minneapolis Small Businesses
If you’re looking to donate to bail-out funds for protestors who are arrested, here are a few:
- Minnesota Freedom Fund
- Atlanta Solidarity Fund
- Brooklyn Community Bail Fund
- The Liberty Fund (NYC)
- Philadelphia Community Bail Fund
- Peoples City Council Freedom Fund (Los Angeles)
- Restoring Justice (Houston)
- Know Your Rights Camp (Minneapolis)
- Richmond Community Bailout Fund
- Colorado Freedom Fund (Denver)
- Vegas Freedom Fund
- The Bail Project (Nationwide)
Many white people like to think racism ended with the civil rights movement. This simply is not true.
- Systematic racism
- Our criminal justice system
- Our healthcare system
- Environmental injustices like the Flint water crisis
- Economic injustices like the racial wealth gap.
- Here is an example of a political platform for racial justice.
- Overt racism. This includes white people or non-black people of color saying the n-word, using blackface, hate crimes, etc.
- Covert racism. This is widespread and often overlooked by white people. We are talking about things like tokenism, using AAVE, telling a person of color they’re “well spoken,” etc. Here is an article about microagressions specifically.
- Reverse racism doesn’t exist. You cannot oppress the oppressor. Here are 7 reasons why reverse racism doesn’t exist.
White privilege does not mean that you do not have any struggles in life. It means the struggles you have aren’t caused by the color of your skin.
It means you don’t have to worry about police brutality. It means as a kid, people who looked like you were represented in the media you consumed. It means strangers don’t cross the street when you’re walking towards them on the sidewalk. It means when you’re applying for a job you don’t have to worry about being discriminated against because of your name. It means at your workplace, you don’t get told that you’re not allowed to wear your natural hair. These are just a few examples of white privilege.
Saying “I don’t see color” doesn’t mean you’re not racist. It means you’re erasing the past. It means you’re turning a blind eye to the systematic oppression we still have in place today. It means you’re stunting diversity and inclusion efforts. It means you’re ignoring the disproportionate levels of poverty. It means you’re ignoring our blatantly racist criminal justice system. It means you’re ignoring the discrimination of quality in healthcare. (And a lot more).
All lives won’t matter until black lives matter. No one—and I mean no one—is arguing that the lives of other races don’t matter. What we are arguing is that black lives do in fact matter, because they are treated as though they don’t. The statement doesn’t mean that others don’t matter, just simply stating that black lives do too. If you went to a fundraiser for lung cancer, you wouldn’t show up and starting shouting about how all other types of cancer matter, too.
Blue Lives Matter was only started as a way to undermine the Black Lives Matter movement. That’s a huge problem. Additionally, “blue lives” aren’t lives—they’re uniforms a cop puts on to go to work and takes off at the end of the day. That is not the same as the color of someone’s skin. A police officer chooses their profession. A black person has not chosen their race.
Some of my personal favorites:
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
And tons of recommendations I’m adding to my list to read:
- Here is a list of 14 books on race by black authors.
- Here is another list of books for understanding and dismantling racism
- To My White Friends Who See Tragedy in the Black Community and Say Nothing, Make it Personal
- What is Whiteness?
- I, Racist: Why I Don’t Talk About Race with White People
- We Need to Talk About White Culture
- The Intersectionality Wars
- Who Gets to Be Afraid in America?
- Black Feminism and the Black Lives Matter Movement
- How Studying Privilege Systems Can Strengthen Compassion
- Y’all Better Quiet Down
- Why I Must Speak Out About Racial Discrimination
- No, You Cannot Touch My Hair
- Fruitvale Station (Here is the trailer)
- The Hate U Give (Here is the trailer)
- Freedom Writers (Here is the trailer)
- When They See Us (Here is the trailer)
- Selma (Here is the trailer)
- The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (Here is the trailer)
- Code Switch from NPR
- 1619 from The New York Times
- Pod Save the People from Crooked Media
- Momentum: A Race Forward
- About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge
- The Diversity Gap
- Intersectionality Matters!
- Black Lives Matter
- The ACLU
- We the Protestors
- Campaign Zero
- National Police Accountability Project
- Advancement Project
- The Movement For Black Lives
- The Marshall Project
- Until Freedom
- Equal Justice Initiative
- NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
- The Marsha P. Johnson Institute
- Be the Bridge
- The Conscious Kid
- Color of Change
Lastly, I want to reiterate that Black Lives Matter is a movement to amplify and support every single day—it’s not a trendy little catchphrase to say when it fits in with your performative activism. It’s not just a hashtag to post when you feel obligated to say something just so you don’t look bad. It’s not for you to parrot to try to look woke and seek praise for doing the bare minimum. It’s embarrassing and disappointing. Black lives matter. Every. Single. Day.