Take Action


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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.)

1. ACLU Apps to Record Police Conduct

Not a preventive measure, but it's the least we could all do to download these and remain vigilant about police practices.

2. Concrete Ways to Be an Actual Ally to Black People

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.

3. Let Ijeoma Olumo Be Your Guide and Write Your Script

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.

4. Note to Self: White People Taking Part in Black Lives Matters Protests

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.")

5. What to Say When the Police Tell You to Stop Filming Them

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.)

6. 100 Race-Conscious Things You Can Say to Your Child to Advance Racial Justice

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.

7. Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism - From Ferguson to Charleston

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!

8. Audre Lorde Thought of Self-Care as an "Act of Political Warfare"

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:

9. "No One Can Breathe in This Atmosphere": Everyone Should Read Justice Sonia Sotomayor on How Police Stops are Life-and-Death Experiences for People of Color

10. Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Why White Moms Need to Care About Murdered Black Children

11. Trevor Noah's Message on Police Shootings: "You Can Be Pro-Cop and Pro-Black." (Taped before the shootings in Dallas, because this should be common sense.)

12. The Conversation We Must Have With Our White Children

Peace be with you, Smarties. Now let's roll up those sleeves and make that wish closer to reality.