Sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan. I know that’s not what you want to hear. But everyone has been feeling that. The worldwide pandemic that has upended all of our lives – to where we’re stuck inside, holding on to the safety of our friends and family to keep us going. The black men and women being slaughtered at the hands of the people who are supposed to protect them, and the hundreds of years of oppression that have kept black people burdened and shackled to lives born out of systemic injustice. So, yeah life doesn’t always go according to plan.
Even this post. What I had planned to write for this week – it didn’t feel right to write about anymore. If we have platforms and voices, what is the point if we don’t use them to speak up about the things that really matter? Black lives really matter.
I was walking around my neighborhood for the first time in 3 months and I was seeing it with new eyes. I had never thought Brooklyn was urban. I never thought that we were a “city.” I always thought the concrete was a part of my reality and that my reality was less urban than the skyscrapers of Manhattan. I was walking around and seeing people with masks on. And a few without. People have agency and most wanted to protect themselves and others. I was seeing the new apartment building as I walked.
I saw something that shocked me. I looked and saw a sign “NYPD = KKK.” While the actual legitimacy of this message was wrong, the sentiment, the essence of it was more enlightening. No, the NYPD is not the KKK. The KKK has done far worse to black people over a hundred years. What I believe this person was trying to say is that being complicit to injustice, turning a blind eye to crimes of hatred committed under your authority is like actively burning a cross on the lawns of the people who are directly impacted by the injustice – namely, the black community.
We cannot be silent. We cannot allow racism, systemic injustice, and more to be the norm of this country.
Black people are tired. Mothers are tired of sending their kids to school, worried they won’t come home. Fathers are tired of being stopped by police and fearing getting shot, fearing what will happen to their families if they do. Children are tired of always having to defend themselves against a stereotype of who someone else believes they are, instead of being allowed to figure out who they are. Black people are tired.
At a time like this, it is easy to be loud on social media. It is easy to share instagram posts and tweet threads on twitter. It is so easy. But let us do the hard things.
If you have no money to give, sign petitions. There are so many going around. Sign them all. Make your name known. Make your values known. Active sign your name, signifying you are condemning racism and murder by the hands of police officers. If you have 3 minutes, go on Twitter, go on Instagram, find links to petitions, and sign. SO MANY OF US are in our homes, safe, not protesting, the least we could do is sign petitions for action to be enforced by state officials.
George Floyd Petition – https://tinyurl.com/y8je9dgh
George Floyd Petition – https://tinyurl.com/ybb5hqo2
George Floyd Petition – https://tinyurl.com/yc7nthfp
Ban Use of Rubber Bullets – https://t.co/i2Q5WGRejZ?amp=1
Get the Officers Charged – https://tinyurl.com/y9fldv25
National Action Against Police Brutality – https://tinyurl.com/y99ca5lu
*There are several different petitions for George Floyd. Each one is important. Sign them all*
Here is a link to more petitions – https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#petitions
Black Lives Matter – https://t.co/zG5OvVzb0u?amp=1
To Victims – https://tinyurl.com/y9rel889
To Protesters – https://tinyurl.com/y98tpvga
To Black Owned Businesses – https://tinyurl.com/y8eh4seb
Donate to bail funds! People of color are discriminated against due to the high cost of bail and are left in prison. Protesters are being arrested and their families do not have the funds. If you still have a job, please donate!
Here is a link to one such bail fund – https://tinyurl.com/y3vqojes
Hold people in power/influence accountable
One of the things that hurts the most right now is that there are people with incredible power – celebrities, influencers, state officials, they can do some crazy good. They can donate large sums of money, they can talk to others in power, they have access to networks with other powerful people. Hold your people accountable!
If influencers and celebrities are not talking about this on their platforms, comment, email, DM them, and ask them why is it they are silent. Police brutality is wrong no matter what you believe politically. Why are they not using their platform to spread awareness? Remind them – it’s not about their following, it’s about the lives being lost at the boots of the police.
Side note – YES, not all cops are bad – BUT WE NEED TO HOLD THE BAD ONES RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS, TAKING INNOCENT LIVES AWAY!
Call your representatives. Get into contact with people who have more power than you and can actually work to have a positive impact on those directly impacted by police brutality, specifically the families who are victims of such a violent death. Email people. Call them, make them know that their actions during this time are vital to the lives of the black community.
There are so many books to learn from black people’s experiences of racism – I recommend Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, and James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. Between the World and Me was one of the first books I ever read that so clearly articulated my experience as a black person. A truly profound read. There are so many documentaries – The 13th, Selma, and When They See Us.
If you fail to educate yourself on the ways racism permeates different American institutions – from microaggressions to unjust policies – you are actively contributing to a world that denies black people their worth as human beings.
I remember watching TV as they pronounced George Zimmerman not guilty – feeling the weight of that along with the rest of the black community. Knowing we would continue to be victims in a society that tells us we are criminals. That we would bear the brunt of brutality but seen as those who are violent.
Black Lives Matter – it’s not a political issue. It’s a fundamental human right that every human being should have the right to life – not to have the throat under the boot of a policeman, literally choking the life out of them.
If you think this doesn’t matter, consider how a black man died IN THE MIDST OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC! And yet, for the black community, it was just another person lost to the violence of police brutality.
There is not much to celebrate. Another black person is dead and there are riots all over the country for centuries of oppression and systemic injustice against black people. I don’t want to say there is hope because I feel, like so many other black people, tired.
What I will say is this: if you are white, or a person of color (but nonblack), you have privilege and you can use your privilege to protect the black community and amplify their voices. Let us speak out on injustice against us, but without your voices, I fear we would often be ignored and accused of inciting violence.
Racism and police brutality will never be okay. Let’s take action to make sure that’s the case.