When we look at all of the social justice problems that riddle the world, it can be easy to fall into feelings of helplessness. The plague of institutional racism has been persistent, despite efforts of peaceful protesting and advocacy that gained traction in 1955. Dr. Martin Luther King led peaceful protests and demonstrations and acted as a voice for marginalized populations. Still, in the midst of his work in advocating for social change, those who resisted his message arrested him 29 times, criticized him, attempted to assassinate him, bombed his home, attempted to bar his efforts by banning gatherings, etc., and eventually assassinated him.
Even then, there were times where Dr. King’s demonstrations were ended abruptly due to the rise of mobs and police violence against demonstrators. Now in 2020, there is a sense of responsibility to continue to fight for racial equality. Racism, xenophobia, and intolerance are problems that exist across all societies, but every day, there is something that each of us can do to stand up against social injustice. Below are some steps that we ALL can take to stand up to injustice.
- Stop Saying “All Lives Matter”
It is widely believed that this phrase completely ignores the point of Black Lives Matter. All lives matter, but “all lives” are not regularly ended by police brutality. Click here to take a look at a great article that explains Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter in 9 different ways. Also don’t forget that in 1820, Thomas Jefferson coined the popular phrase “Slavery is a necessary evil,” and in 1940 the phrase “separate but equal” was widely accepted. The way we use our words matters, and we can leave the phrase “all lives matter” locked in a dark, dark box with the rest of the phrases that choose not to condemn white nationalism.
2. Remember Who We Fight For
We can learn the names of the victims of police brutality that we fight in honor of. Here is a great site with an interactive map that allows you to view victims of police violence and their stories. These people represent the necessity for change, and we should share and respect their stories as we work to facilitate change. I encourage everyone to download and view the full database.
3. Defend human rights
Even if we are not actively engaged in protesting or community organizations, we have the ability to send a message that racism is unacceptable, starting with our personal lives. If we see someone being the victim of racism, we can speak up. If a friend or a family member displays behaviors or makes statements that are misinformed and/or stemming from a place of racism, we can speak up. We can use our voices to ensure that the members of our communities are treated justly and fairly in an attempt to avoid more tragedy.
4. Know Your Rights
In order to fight for and defend human rights, we need to learn what they are first. Here’s a pretty good introductory overview of basic human rights, although let’s strive for learning as much as we can from as many resources we can. Knowledge is power.
5. Educate Others Around You
The world is full of false information, whether based on misguided reports or the unwillingness to acknowledge what is right here in front of us. I like to refer efforts in correcting misinformation with true facts and real statistics as “dropping truth bombs.”
6. Teach Tolerance to Children
Children are the future. We can advocate that our children are taught accurate history lessons in schools, without information being left out or grazed over. We can teach children to celebrate diversity and to respect others, specifically individuals and families that don’t look like them. Here is a great list of books that can be used to educate children multiculturalism and diversity. Here is also a link for Black History Flashcards.
7. Use Your Political Voice
We have the ability to research and vote to put people in power who actively fight for racial justice. We can vote for people who represent the community. Additionally, we can write letters to legislators and representatives and advocate for body cameras to be worn by all officers, for evidence-based police de-escalation training, and for criminal justice reform.
8. Sign Petitions
There are a number of petitions circulating that an easy Google search can give access to (like the ones listed here). Here is also Color of Change’s Petition demanding justice after the brutal murder of George Floyd. Here is also a petition calling for police reform.
9. Donate To:
- Black Lives Matter.
- organizations that raise money for bail funds for protesters
- Official George Floyd Memorial Fund & other funds for the families of victims
- Minnesota Freedom Fund
- Black Visions Collective
- Reclaim the Block
- Unicorn Riot
- Campaign Zero
10. Support Human Rights Organizations
- Here is a list of advocacy and civil rights organizations.
- Here is another list of civil rights organizations organized by specialty.
- Click here to read more about Black Lives Matter.
- Here is a list of Black Lives Matters chapters in the United States with contact information.
- Check out the Racial Justice Action Center and Action St. Louis
11. Support Social Projects That Demand Reform
- Learn more about the National Police Accountability Project, which is a non-profit organization created to protect civil and human rights while advocating for change in the legal system and to end police brutality.
- Learn more about Campaign Zero, which outlines an ACTUAL PLAN to end police violence
We can join others in public demonstrations calling for change. Instead of going out blindly, though, we can learn more about what it means to participate in a protest. Being more prepared and knowledgeable means that we can be of better help. Let’s all check out this link to learn more about the rights of protesters before we head out there. Here’s also a really great image detailing protest roles submitted on Reddit. We can also reach out to protest organizers to see what they need from us!
13. Use Your White Privilege
To assist in combating racism, we can learn about our own privilege and how it impacts others. Here is a great video showing a meaningful exercise about the (sometimes unbeknownst) power of privilege. After we learn about our privilege, we can use it by helping people of color in the fight for racial equality. Using our privilege to intervene could save someone’s life.
This is a list of only 13 things that can be done to combat racism and demand social justice. Let’s all make an effort to do these things and more in the hopes that we can achieve true racial equality.
14. Support Black-owned Businesses
Supporting the Black community means supporting Black-owned businesses. It can seem overwhelming, and sometimes we don’t know where to start. Take a look at this amazing resource that details Black-owned businesses. Website Planet writer Sophia Conti created an amazing list of Black-owned businesses across the United States. Supporting these businesses can mean so much, especially for those impacted by the current pandemic!