So You've Protested: Now What?
Whether you're looking to deepen your work beyond the streets or if you can't protest but want to act tangibly, check out these steps.
So you've gone out to the streets to fight for the Black Lives Matter, put your body on the line and begun the long practice of investing yourself in the movement for racial justice in the United States.
As commendable as being out in the streets is, particularly if you're someone who's just joining the fight, it's only the beginning of the work. If you're not able to protest in the streets, there's still plenty you can do from home to help the movement work towards its larger goals.
"Black Lives Matter is an international network of more than 30 chapters working to rebuild the black liberation movement and affirm the lives of all black people – specifically black women, queer and trans people, people who are differently abled, and those who are undocumented and formerly incarcerated," the movement's website reads. "We focus on those marginalized within black liberation movements, imposing a call to action and response to state-sanctioned violence against black people, as well as the virulent anti-black racism that permeates our society."
What can you do to stay involved in the movement—after donating, protesting, signing the petitions, and making the posts?
Pay attention to the requests and demands of Black organizers. Tailor your requests to their goals, not yours. Keep listening and stay attuned; be open to changing your own mind. Instead of posting everything you do, try keeping quiet instead of centering whiteness.
Get involved in your community
John Hopkins University
Community-based movements are some of the most powerful ways to fight injustice. By building community, you build networks of support and the personal connections you need to actually do work that's helpful for people. Get involved in your local mutual aid group, in your local community centers, and in organizations that are already doing the work in your local area. Donate, learn, and volunteer. Join a tenant's rights organization and attend a town board meeting. Fight to ensure that kids in your area have great after school programs and access to the care they need.
Protest in your own community and circles
It's great to protest in a big city, but what about a small town that's generally untouched by protests? If you have privilege, host your own caravan or protest at a police precinct in a local town. Approach your local politicians and demand: ""What is your policy on ending police brutality?" Campaign Zero has great resources on this.
Support Black businesses, creators, and initiatives
Vote with your dollars. Support Black-owned businesses and Black writers, creators, and educators. Here's a list of Black-owned businesses in NYC. Find one in your own city or make one. Make an effort to buy books from Black writers.
Get involved in local politics
Learn about who is running in your community and phonebank and campaign for them. We pour so much energy into debating and campaigning for national elections, but the truth is that often state and local-level politics will have more of an immediate effect on your community. Consider getting more involved in local campaigns or even running for office.. At the very least, fill out your census and vote.
Fight the police
The current George Floyd protests are most visibly protests against the police, so if you still believe in "good cops" or don't understand why it's time to defund the police, it's time to do a little bit of research. Check out this interview with Julia Salazar, this report from the Marshall Project, this article on the failures of police reform, and do your own research.
Fun fact: The NYPD alone received $6 billion in funding this past year, yet the Summer Youth Employment Program was cut. The best way to prevent the police from committing acts of violence is to defund them. "Contact the Independent Budget Office, the Director of the Office of Management & Budget for the Mayor, reach out to your local Council member!" writes .
In general, there are a lot of actions you can take personally to reduce the police's harmfulness. Avoid calling 911. Here's a massive doc about what you can do instead.
Educate yourself and others
If you're committed to doing racial justice work, you really need to educate yourself. Don't make yourself into a burden on groups fighting for justice by making requests or mistakes that could be easily explained by some quick Googling.
Commit to a continuing education, then educate others. Prioritize Black voices before you speak, but step up to speak at schools and educate others about racial bias, police reform, and the like.
Organize a conversation in your local school or church or just among your friend group, using one of the many educational blueprints that already exist online. Encourage your workplace to invest long-term in racial justice actions.
Join a racial justice organization
There are lots of racial justice movements and chapters. Showing Up for Racial Justice is a movement for white people. There's also Color of Change, the NAACP, Dream Defenders, and many more. Check out this list or this one (from Ben and Jerry's) and talk to your friends about joining.
Also consider donating to or supporting the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, the Southern Poverty Law Center, United Negro College Fund, Black Youth Project 100, The Sentencing Project, Families against Mandatory Minimums, and A New Way of Life.
Commit to doing the work long-term
White supremacist culture loves to prioritize visible, tangible and fast-moving change, but actually, justice work is never linear, and it's often not clearly visible. If you're doing the work for clout or to prove that you're a "good person" you're probably going to make mistakes that hurt the movement. Figure out ways to make the work sustainable for you. Build relationships, and find a place that works for you. If you aren't a public speaker, then you probably won't be the person organizing rallies and standing out front with a megaphone, but you might be a lot more useful drafting press releases or educating kids.
Whatever you do, check your privilege. "I feel surrounded by Black death. What a privilege, to concern yourself with seeming good while the rest of us want to seem worthy of life," writes Brit Bennett in Jezebel.
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