What You Can Do to Show Up in the Movement for Racial Justice
The last few weeks have been emotionally wrenching. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed by the police and America saw it. While many people throughout the world are outraged, the Black community is in acute pain. As so many of us watched the videos of these killings, we came face-to-face with our own mortality and that of family members and friends, while we grieved for the victims and their families. We are also frustrated and angry that time and time again these killings happen without consequences law enforcement. The acquittals of several of the officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray leaves us questioning whether justice will ever be served.
Over the past two weeks, we have received numerous calls and emails asking, “What can we do?” We wanted to respond because no longer can people sit on the sidelines. We must act! Things will not change overnight. This is not about a few bad apples. We need systemic change that will require a long-term effort. We need to use all tactics from protest to power. Organizing and voting must be on our agenda. If we get involved and stay involved, I am confident we will win.
Here are a few things you can do to make a difference and show up in the movement for racial justice:
Take Care of Yourself:
During incredibly painful times, it is easy to lose sight of one’s needs and instead focus solely on the change we need to make. We cannot be effective if we do not take care of ourselves and each other. What we are witnessing is also traumatic. Allow yourself to feel the full range of emotions that the tragedies of the last couple of weeks unleash. In doing so, remember you have resources. Click here to watch a TEDx talk on healing and creating safety grounded in our communities written by Nia Wilson of Spirithouse in Durham, NC.
Watch: In taking the necessary time to heal and mourn, please watch this powerful teaching video offering by Adrienne Maree Brown, on nutrition, exercise, the power of healing circles, and the power of water to hold, heal and connect us. Adrienne is a writer, facilitator, healer and doula living in Detroit.
The Change We Need:
Transformation of police departments, their role and relationship to our communities requires a change in culture, accountability, training, policies and practices. It also requires strong leadership and transparency. Without organizing our communities and building power nothing will change. Click here to learn about a few issues you can work to change.
Be a Co-conspirator:
If you are non-Black, you too play a pivotal role as co-conspirators in the struggle to change policing and ensure racial justice. What can you do as a co-conspirator to support the dignity and safety of Black lives? Engage in deep transformative conversations with your friends, your families, your neighbors, and elevate the voices of communities in pain. These are often the most difficult conversations to have. But we must change hearts and minds as we work to transform systems and institutions. Here are templates and examples of letters of support from various communities.
Also, look into Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ).
We have been here before. The constant state of sadness and anger can be paralyzing, but it can also propel us into action. The movement for racial justice in this country is ours to build.