Before I begin, I need to mention that the mural pictured above is in Minneapolis, Minnesota and it was painted by Xena Goldman, Cadex Herrera, and Greta McLain, along with help from Niko Alexander and Pablo Hernandez.
Our country is figuratively and literally on fire this week, following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, by four police officers—one directly, by keeping his knee on George’s neck (impairing his ability to breathe), and three indirectly: by their lack of action. The events over the last six days are altogether horrible, tragic, unjust, and not surprising; nothing has changed for Black Americans as we’ve seen time and time again, and the current leader of our country isn’t making things better; in fact it’s the opposite. Don’t get me started on that right now; that’s not why I’m writing this.
Why I AM writing this is because I wanted to compile a list of things that can assist any average white person in getting started on becoming anti-racist, which means that we are actively opposing racism and promoting racial tolerance. ACTIVELY.
Sharing things on social media is one thing and valuable in some ways (especially if you are amplifying Black voices), but what the Black community really needs is for white people to fix the problem. It’s not up to them: it’s up to us. We need to continue educating ourselves, change our habits, and definitely teach our children.
I have some ideas for you right here that range from reading books to watching videos and movies to donating money to all kinds of other things depending on the direction you’d like to take. Let’s dig in.
- Mireille Charper put together a list of “10 Steps to Non-Optical Allyship.”
- Read “A Letter to Friends Who Really Want to End Racism” by “Good Black News” founder and Editor-in-Chief Lori Lakin Hutcherson.
- Check out “A Guide To How You Can Support Marginalized Communities.”
- Here are “Five Ways White People Can Take Action in Response to White- and State-Sanctioned Violence.”
- A consistently updated list called “75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice” by Corinne Shutack can be found here.
- Read this haiku about allyship by Ellen McGirt.
- Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show” did an amazing video on “George Floyd and the Dominoes of Racial Justice.”
- A list of “Anti-Racism Resources” is here.
- If you want to donate to bail funds, here is a list of them by city.
- More donation suggestions are here.
- Patronize Black businesses. Get started here, and then do a Google search for “*your city* + Black-owned businesses.”
- Watch CNN’s Chris Cuomo’s “Closing Argument” on how “America is a Tale of Two Cities.”
- Watch this video that only scratches the surface on the hundreds of years of pain that the Black community has endured.
- I co-produced a show in Chicago for 6 years called “Listen To Your Mother (LTYM).” It featured local writers reading their personal essays about motherhood. One of the most impactful readings out of our entire run was done by Keesha Beckford. It was called “Dear White Mom,” and I was one hundred percent sure that I wanted it in our show the second I finished reading it. Watch Keesha’s reading here.
- I have a dad perspective for you, too. At the 2015 BlogHer conference, James Oliver presented his plea to white people to help keep his son from being murdered. Watch James and read more here.
- Warner Bros. has made it possible for us to watch “Just Mercy” for free through the end of June on many streaming platforms. The movie focuses on the life of the civil-rights attorney Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) as he fights to overturn the wrongful murder conviction of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx). Learn more about where to watch the film, here.
- Watch a short video that explains systematic racism.
- Lori Laken Hutcherson, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of “Good Black News,” wrote an article called “What I Said When My White Friend Asked For My Black Opinion on White Privilege.”
- Courtney Martin wrote “Where Do I Donate? Why is the Uprising Violent? Should I Go Protest? (And other commonly asked questions by white and/or privileged people, answered by other white and/or privileged people)”. Read here.
- If you’re thinking that your kids are too young to talk about race, they aren’t. Read this.
- Here’s an article called “Caring for Children After Exposure to Race-Related Violence in the Media.”
- Read “11 Things To Do Besides Say ‘This Has To Stop’ In The Wake Of Police Brutality” by Brittany Wong.
- Check out this graphics collage that includes lots of things you can read, watch, act on, donate, plus Black voices to follow on Twitter.
- Read this resource on racial trauma and the psychological impact that movies and TV shows have on mental health.
As I mentioned above, this is not a complete list, by far. This is meant to get you started on your change-making journey. If you want to do more, you’ll find more to do. We ALL have more we can do, every single one of us.
One more thing before I end this post:
Back to my friend Keesha for a moment. I mentioned that her LTYM reading was one of the most impactful ever in our six-year show run. I shared a moment with Keesha before the show that I will never, ever forget. She originally wrote her essay after the August 2014 killing of Ferguson, Missouri’s Michael Brown, and on the day of our show she asked me if she could change Michael Brown’s name in her essay to read Freddie Gray instead. (Just two weeks earlier, Freddie Gray of Baltimore died in the back of a van while in police custody.) Keesha wanted her essay to reflect what was going on, what was continuing. I told her, “Of course you can,” and we walked to the stage together so she could make the correction in the script. As she gently made the change, she shook her head and said, “I just can’t believe this is still happening.” The sadness of that moment is imprinted on my heart forever. We HAVE to change. We HAVE to come together. We HAVE to actively strive to be a country where everyone is treated equally.