I was on the phone with a friend yesterday who said “It’s so shocking what’s happening in Raleigh right now! Can you believe it?”
I was a little stunned by this statement. Yes, I can believe it. While it breaks my heart to see peaceful protests turned violent, of course I can believe it. After yet another shocking, but all too familiar, death of an unarmed black man, enough is enough. People are fed up. I am fed up. The racism in this country is pervasive and atrocious. The anger is boiling over and people are taking to the streets. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor are the latest along with these 14 other well-known tragic cases: Freddie Gray, Sam Dubose, Philando Castile, Terence Crutcher, Alton Sterling, Jamar Clark, Jeremy McDole, William Chapman II, Walter Scott, Eric Harris, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Eric Garner, Michael Brown. And these are just the ones we know about. The ones who happened to be caught on video or reported. Since 2015, 1,252 African Americans were shot and killed by police, not counting those who died in custody or through other methods.
Pile on to that the racial disparities during the Coronavirus pandemic, and in education, housing, voting, healthcare, and the justice system along with the vicious statements coming from our nation’s headquarters. Yes, I can believe it. Absolutely.
Tensions are escalating across the country and around the world. As I scroll through my social media channels now filled with stories of anger and outrage, a persistent question crosses my mind again and again: How can we help? How can we make a difference? How can we be a light in dark times?
I’ve come up with a few ideas, and while not at all comprehensive and likely only scratching the surface, we can use these as a starting point.
Vote in ALL elections, not just the presidency and federal government, but all state and local elections. It’s the mayors, county officials, district and state attorneys who make decisions on laws in our communities. Pay attention to these individuals, their actions, their viewpoints. And vote. Need guidance and resources? Check out vote.org.
I’m a white woman in America and I’m keenly aware of my white privilege. I have no clue what it’s like to live on a daily basis as a minority in this culture. But I can learn, I can listen, and I can speak up for my friends and loved ones of color by joining in protest, signing petitions, and contacting my representatives on pressing issues. The NAACP, the Poverty and Race Research Action Council, and the ACLU are among many organizations that can help.
Stay Informed and Get Involved
Sign up for news and events from organizations working on racial justice and equity. The Racial Equity Resource Guide and Race Forward have a number of helpful resources. Listen to podcasts that deal with black issues. Reveal and Code Switch are two of my favorites, but you can find more on this list.
Get involved with local organizations that make a difference in our under-served communities. Help at food banks or homeless shelters, provide crisis support, join a mentoring program, deliver meals, or help with local events. Volunteermatch.org can pair you with an organization in your area.
Support any of the above organizations or other local efforts addressing these issues with a monetary contribution.
I am encouraged by the outpouring of global support through the hundreds of peaceful protests. I am encouraged by the officers and national guard members who join in solidarity with civilian protesters. I am encouraged by my friends who are bold enough to speak out and take a stand in the midst of the anger and confusion. But it is not enough. It’s time to pay attention. It’s time to take action.