Black Lives Matter - It's more than just a hashtag. It's more than just a movement. It's a fact.
When I say "supporting the BLM movement", I also mean "supporting Black PEOPLE." I think this is an important distinction to make because I have seen people post on social media talking about "allyship" whilst condoning and perpetuating racism off social media. Anyway, I digress...
This blog post came from an Instagram post I created yesterday (see here). I've had a lot of questions about what both Black and Non-Black people can be doing right now to learn more, speak up and show support and it's also something I've been asking myself too. Silencing our voices is not enough - we have to take action. How we choose to take action, is up to us.
I myself promise to do the work of educating myself more and unlearning the false history I was taught…about the companies I have supported that do not support me…about the extent to which racism exists in so many ways and at so many levels.
I also vow to no longer make myself uncomfortable by not speaking out simply to make others feel comfortable.
So here are 8+1 things we can all do (myself included). I guarantee you there are so much more. And please remember that the work never stops. It's not a checklist that you can finish. We need to be doing the work continuously until racism ends in every form.
1. Educate Yourself
There are so many books, resources, podcasts, activists and educators you can access to research and learn from about the history of institutional racism and so much more. Prioritise purchasing the books/resources from Black authors. They have a lived experience and knowledge beyond a textbook. The research is out there - read the facts. Also, it's not enough to simply "listen and learn" - you must learn with the intent to take action. Please remember that it is not the sole job of Black people to educate you. If they choose to give you valuable information, respect that by thanking them or (better yet) paying them for their service. We aren't entitled to educate for free.
2. Protest Safely
Keep a safe distance from others where possible. COVID-19 is still an problem that is affecting Black people severely and at disproportionate rates. If you choose to protest:
Wear nondescript, layered clothing and cover your tattoos.
Be careful of wearing glasses or contact lenses.
Write down a list of emergency contacts.
Don't bring anything with you that you do not want to be arrested with.
3. Donate Your Resources
Give your resources or donate to organisations and funds that support the rights of Black people. Find local charities that you can donate your time, money and other resources to. Show support by sharing and buying from Black-owned business. Take a minute of your time to sign petitions created to facilitate positive change.
4. Use Your Voice
Use your voice to communicate about the racial violence and injustices in the world. Please remember to use trigger warnings when posting disturbing content and think about the relevance of posting violent videos or images. It's re-traumatising for Black people to constantly see disturbing images of their own people. This is nothing new for us. Remember that it's not enough to just stay silent or to 'mute' yourself - that's choosing to be selective about which social injustices should be challenges. Check yourself before you comment on how you think those who are oppressed should be reacting or how you feel about what is happening. Basically, don't make it about you. Ask yourself if you are in a position to comment on this. If in doubt, leave it out.
5. Call Out Racist People & Organisations
It's not enough to simply see racism existing around you and for you to disagree in silence. Call out the influencers, organisations and individuals who have said or allow racist ideologies to be shared on their platforms. Support those who have experienced and spoken out against racism and allow for their voices to be heard. Be more conscious of where your money is being spent and spend your money elsewhere. Report and block racist accounts.
6. Amplify Black Voices
Black people, I want to see more of your beautiful faces, I want to see what you offer to the world and I want to hear your voices loud and clear. Now is the time for you to speak and be heard. Let's continue to share and support each other to be seen and heard.
Non-Black people, it's not enough to simply mute yourself. Share the work, voices and platforms of other Black people and Black-owned businesses.
7. Check-in on Your Black Friends
Be careful of performative allyship. I've seen people post on social media talking about allyship without checking in on their Black friends, clients, employees, students etc. How can you be an ally to the masses but silent to the Black people in your community? Ask your Black friends how they're coping and what they need from you to support them.
8. Take Action Beyond Social Media
Make sure that the voices of Black people are heard in the communities that you are a part of. Make sure your workplace is safe for Black people. Have those uncomfortable conversations and talk to your friends, families and communities. Ask yourself how you can amplify the voices of the oppressed in your communities. Then, take accountability and be clear about what, when and how you are going to make a change.
Black People, it's OK to rest and take some time out right now.
It's OK to take some time off social media and look after yourself, if this is what you feel called to do right now. Pay attention to what you need. Whilst others may have only been fighting the fight for a couple of days - this has been more than a lifetime for us.
Self-care can be a powerful form of activism.