Social tensions are high right now for many reasons; from COVID-19 to protests against police brutality. No matter your stance on the issues at hand, I'm sure that everyone can agree that this year has claimed far too many lives. If you are someone who does not want to participate in the Black Lives Matter movement, that’s fine. But if you do want to participate and you just don’t know how, I recommend starting at the beginning. The beginning is education. Read books, Twitter feeds, Facebook posts. Inform yourself as best you can about what is going on the United States right now. Remember to practice self-care as you do this. A lot of videos on YouTube right now are depicting extreme violence, profanity, and even death. So please consume media carefully.
You can’t be a catalyst for change if you don’t know
- Why something needs to change
- What changes should be made
- How those changes should be implemented
Always study both sides of the argument because you cannot push someone off of their pedestal if you don’t look at what they’re standing on, or what they stand for. Once you feel well-versed in the movement, create your elevator pitch. I know this sounds like an assignment. but revolutionaries do their homework. No one would have listened if Martin Luther King Jr. stammered his way through public addresses. The suffragettes would have been ridiculed for not knowing enough about their platform or the politics surrounding it. So think it through. What do you believe and why?
Once you feel as if you know enough to move forward, vocalize your thoughts. Find people to talk to. There are great conversations going on in all forms of social media right now. Whether it’s someone opposing your opinion or with an identical mindset, just give them the elevator pitch. Communication is the only way for one person to know what another person is feeling. Keep an open mind to other people’s perspectives, just remember to remove yourself if the conversation makes you feel unsafe.
If you, or people you know, are going to the protests, you can purchase poster boards from Walmart for 67 cents apiece. I bought black poster board and a white paint marker; this cost me approximately four dollars. Then, I cut the poster board in half and wrote down some of my favorite quotes on racial equality by black theorists, feminists and leaders. However, I know that not many people will take the time to read an entire paragraph by bell hooks, so on the other side of the sign, I simply wrote "Black Lives Matter."
Then look into supporting black owned businesses. Again, the internet is a great tool for this step. There are several lists of restaurants, gyms, salons, shops, and retail stores that are run by people of color. This is a great way to not only support hard-working members of this community, but to also expand the businesses, foods and products that you're familiar with.
If you’re ordering dinner, consider looking into its history. I know it’s a lot of work, I know many are wary of condemning people and places for their political affiliations. Just take a second to Google it. The worst that can happen is you have to choose another restaurant, but are able to help others in the process.
Finally, expand your media consumption. We’ve all been locked inside with nothing to do but binge TV and movies for the past four months. I for one, have been re-watching my favorite childhood series and Disney films. Amazingly, I have only bothered watching five films that I’d never seen before. Everyone could use a change of pace and how better than to watch something with black characters and actors? Several streaming sites have even featured resources starring black individuals as a demonstration of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. My film recommendations would be Moonlight, Hidden Figures, Black Panther, and 13th.
Again, I just want to reiterate that this is not an article that is meant to push people to participate in Black Lives Matter. I wrote this because I have seen so many who want to get involved in movements and protests but simply don’t know how. This is a guide on how to support Black Lives Matter, if you so choose to do so.