5 Ways to (Genuinely) Support the Black Lives Matter Movement
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
~ Lilla Watson, Indigenous Australian activist and academic
We’re in a critical moment. The most recent spate of murders of unarmed Black citizens—Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and George Floyd—have people taking to the streets in record numbers. More of us are finally waking up to the reality of system racism, police brutality, and white supremacy in this country.
How can we—especially non-Black folks—work in solidarity with the BLM movement? Here are 5 ways.
1: Get in the streets.
Millions of people across the country have shown up in recent weeks at protests. In Los Angeles, as many as 100,000 people marched through the streets on a single day. We’ve seen examples of white protestors using their privilege for good by forming human shields between the police and Black protestors. We’ve seen racist monuments come down. We’ve seen inspiring Black Lives Matter street art. We’ve seen how demands to defund the police and reimagine public safety are working. And, of course, we’ve seen the inevitable backlash. That’s why we have to keep showing up.
2: Educate yourself.
Our biases and views about race and white supremacy are deeply embedded. They’re built into the psychological fabric of America. We won’t accomplish truly meaningful change until we actively face and deconstruct these views. It’s not enough to “not be racist.” As Ibram X. Kendi teaches, we must be actively anti-racist. Educate yourself.
If you’re white, don’t expect Black people and people of color to do the work for you. It’s not easy learning. It can be uncomfortable and painful, but the resources are there if we have the moral courage to use them. Start with this Google Doc on anti-racism. Watch documentary films like 13th, Whose Streets, and When They See Us. Read books about anti-racism. Do the work.
3: Have uncomfortable conversations.
Change starts in our communities and at home. We have to start talking about the realities Black people face every day in this country and how our actions—and inactions—contribute to that reality. These conversations are hard for many people, especially those who don’t like to rock the boat, but silence is a form of violence because it upholds the status quo, and the status quo for Black people is deadly.
It’s all about execution when talking to friends and family members. Preachiness and aggressive confrontation only put people on the defensive. Approach the conversation from a place of genuine concern and compassion. These letters for Black Lives can serve as a guide.
4: Donate to Black organizations or volunteer.
Many groups are doing impactful educational and racial justice work today like Equal Justice Initiative, NAACP, Black Youth Project, and Let Us Breathe Fund. Donate to these organizations if you can. Sustaining monthly donations are especially helpful, even $5 or $10 a month.
If you’re not able to donate money, consider volunteering your time. There are so many ways to get involved, from providing childcare for parents attending rallies to preparing meals or handing out water and snacks to rally-goers. If you have special skills like writing or graphic design, you can offer those services. Or if you’re a health care professional, you could volunteer as a medic at protests.
5: Listen and learn.
It’s up to you to get educated on anti-Black racism and police violence. There are so many great resources today. Podcasts are ideal since you can listen to them on the go. Start with Mark Thompson’s black empowerment podcast, Make It Plain. Thompson covers politics, breaking news, social justice, and Black resistance. Subscribe to hear new episodes every Wednesday.
Don’t miss Touré Show, a weekly podcast highlighting success stories from Black actors, musicians, politicians, athletes, activists, and allies, Woke AF, Danielle Moodie’s daily 1-hour rundown on all the chaos going down in Washington, and Say Their Name, a new podcast focusing on the assault and killing of unarmed Black people by police and in ‘Stand Your Ground’ states, highlighting incidents throughout the United States.