My hands itch with inaction while my country churns with racist violence.
That sentence sounds melodramatic. I wish that it were. But in the aftermath of a week during which police officers murdered two Black men as witnesses recorded their deaths and snipers then murdered 5 Dallas police officers during a peaceful protest, it isn't. Tragically, it is merely accurate.
Figuring out what to do to help is difficult. And it can be paralyzingly overwhelming when trying to figure out the best means of taking useful action. But if you, too, are looking for ways to be of use - to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty with a little praxis - this list is a good place to start.
(Note: Some of these apply directly and pointedly to white people. Because, shit, white people: racism is a white problem. And, therefore, racist institutions are white problems. And, therefore, institutionalized racist violence is a white problem.)
Not a preventive measure, but it's the least we could all do to download these and remain vigilant about police practices.
Maximum Middle Age, quickly becoming one of my favorite websites, brings us Avital Norman Nathman's excellent recommendations on how white people can be effective and compassionate allies to Black people. Do those things. Read those articles. Say those names. Now do it again.
Want to get involved locally, but don't know where to start or which questions to ask? Start with this excellent collection of Tweets from Ijeoma Olumo. Learn the answers to the questions she asks, then start writing emails to your police department, your attorney general, your mayor, your city council.
Hey! Are you white? I know I am! After we've let Ijeoma Olumo be our guide and write our script, let's follow these guidelines for Good White Behavior at BLM or other racial justice events. (As in, let's not be one of the people other white people should "collect," as referenced in "Concrete Ways to Be an Actual Ally to Black People.")
Another useful how-to if you're planning on hitting the streets. (But, for the love of God, if you happen to get "Oskar Barnack ∞ Oscar Grant" in your head while you're doing this, don't sing it aloud.)
Do you have kids? Trick question! Doesn't matter! You should read this regardless of whether or not you have children in your life. It might come in handy when trying to find calm, rational words to explain racism to full-grown adults. Just chock full of goodness, this piece.
If you're like me, you keep finding yourself reading questions like "What are all these Black people protesting all the time anyway?" on your older relatives' Facebook walls. Go do good work and inform them that this is not a hypothetical question and that they can actually seek an answer to their query. The answer is, in part, here. Encourage them to answer their own damn question!
Here on Smarty Mommies we harp on and on about self-care and how important it is to support the work we do as thoughtful parents. Now imagine the work of caring for a community, of affecting change, of saving our people from our people. That's going to require some serious self-care if we are to do that huge work. Taking care of yourself so you can take care of business is radical and vital. Take care of yourselves, friends.
And, finally, just some good reading:
Peace be with you, Smarties. Now let's roll up those sleeves and make that wish closer to reality.