This list was compiled by my screenwriter friends Ed and Whit. Check out Part 11 here.
This list is a little different because everything has been a little different lately. Hopefully, the coming weeks and years will be a lot different. I am by no means an expert but everyone wants to know what you can do to help fight racial injustice. Here are my not-complete, not-perfect thoughts:
Listen and Examine.
If you’re white, it’s time to listen. To those who’ve lived this, known this, been telling us about this, and finally have a chance to be heard. And when you listen, you may hear things that offend or challenge your worldview. That’s a good thing. Take that in, don’t lash out or defend yourself. This is your chance to hear voices that have been silenced far too long. If you truly want to help make change, become an educated ally, honestly examine how you have benefited from an institutionalized racist system, and work to dismantle it. Then start to shift the conversation from “Black struggles” to “How our system caused those struggles.”
Again, if you’re white, you might have a lot of catching up to do. So educate yourself. And don’t ask Black people to do it for you. Do your own research or reach out to other white allies on their own journeys. Read books about racism. A good start might be these three: White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, then White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, and finally, How to be an Antiracist. There are lots more; keep going. Anything by Ta-Nehisi Coates. And consider buying them, and all your books, from Black-owned shops like Mahogany Books or others, listed here.
Watch movies about the Black experience. TV also plays a part. in 1992, Oprah did a famous episode. Watch the “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” experiment here. Then there’s just history, brought to you in easy-to-read tweets in this thread: a history lesson in racial violence by Erica B. @ericabuddington.
Protesting is your right as an American (and probably your right in the other countries a few of you are in). For you Americans, protest makes headlines, it makes allies, and it moves the political will. Going to a protest? Know your rights. But some of these protests have gotten heated. If you are exposed to tear gas, here’s what you need to know.
In all its forms. Sign petitions. Let your voice be heard (from the comfort of your own home).
Then buy from Black-owned business. You can google “Black owned businesses in my city” or your newspaper may have already put together a list like the LA Times did. This website is another good resource.
Yes, money. There are many options out there, here are just a few: Black Lives Matter is the umbrella movement but you can get more specific. Just google “bail bond funds” (by the city of your choice), “mutual aid funds” (also by city), or donate to a split fund which spreads your donation across programs. This one was put together by Act Blue.
How many Black people work at your job? Commit to hiring and promoting Black people. Not in a position to hire? Recommend Black people to those who do. The manager/ partner-level? Probably fewer there. Why’s that? And how many are on the board of directors? CEO/CFO? When you look to hire recent college grads, have you recruited from Historically Black Colleges? If not, now’s a great time to start.
Not just at the national level, but on the local level and everything in between. Your police commissioner, mayor, and county executive make a lot more decisions which affect your daily life than the President. But also vote in the Presidential election. And if you’re truly trying to make a difference in the lives of Black people in America, look at the platforms of the two major political parties. Look at where they stand on: education, healthcare, unions, community groups, voting rights, and all the other systemic tools we use to elevate (and suppress) our Black communities. Then vote in every election.
We all have a tendency to get interested in a cause for a little while and then… just stop. I’m guilty of it, too. But we can’t afford to stop. This has been going on far too long. It’s a stain on our nation and an embarrassment to each and every one of us. So in a week, in a year, in a decade, look around. Are we there yet? Would any “average” white person be ok switching places with any “average” Black person? Until that day comes, we must keep fighting.
Doing this work inevitably means making mistakes. Mistakes are uncomfortable, but that’s ok — it’s how growth happens.
stuff for the kids:
Books. Not my list. Credit to Brittany @WanderingBritt_
Finally, Sesame Street and CNN put together a town hall featuring Elmo and Abby Cadabby. Watch the whole thing here.