I keep hearing people say that this is a terrible time. But for Black folx in the United States, the past four plus centuries have been a terrible time. I want to say the names of everyone who has been crushed beneath the knee of white supremacy, but with so many names lost to history and so little space on the page I will say the five that are rising to my mind right now:
Right now, in the middle of a pandemic, there are Black people out on the streets, fighting for their lives. These protests — some including looting yes, though much of the violence has been instigated by police and others who are intentionally hijacking peaceful protests — are a demand for us to be treated as the precious human individuals that white people are. Each of us is unique in the universe and each death, each murder is a star snuffed out, a million avenues of potential destroyed. The sheer entitlement fills me with a rage and a fear I find impossible to explain.
I am not safe in the streets, I am not safe in my home, because I am not safe in my body when it is my body that is lesser in the eyes of those meant to protect our society. I am filled with so much anger that it energizes me, but I am also sick with exhaustion, as I wonder how much longer we will have to go on, how much longer we will have to fight, just to prove that we matter?
I know that people want to help. There are so many people out there, who want to contribute, who have had their eyes opened to what is going on, and while I am distraught that it has taken so long, I am glad to have you here, and I am glad to have your support. I know people have been saying the number one thing to do is donate, but if you’re like me, your pockets aren’t exactly full to the brim. One thing you can do is that when you need to make a purchase, make one from a Black business, but as I said, people are being mindful of their pockets in a pandemic. Going out into a protest is also difficult right now. Some people are immunocompromised. Some people are just scared. And that’s OK. Because if everyone is out protesting, who is going to call the jails to bail people out? Who is going to write letters and make calls to local officials and congress? That’s going to be you. If you disagree with what your representatives are doing on a local, state, or federal level, call them and let them know! And it doesn’t even have to be your officials. * I can send an email to someone in Minneapolis as easily as I can send one to someone in Boston. Same with a phone call. Someone who isn’t my representative doesn’t have to take my vote into account, but if I’m loud enough, if we’re all loud enough, they’ll hear our voices.
Another thing to consider: if you like your representatives? If you approve of your officials? If you think they are doing the work, making change? TELL THEM. Affirm that they are doing the right thing. Remind them that you’re going to vote them back in, that they have your support. And for those for you who are nervous callers — wait until after hours and leave a message. You’ll have time to write up what you want to say, you don’t actually have to talk to anyone, but your message will be heard.
This isn’t the time to be silent. This is the time to not only lift the voices of Black folx, but also be actively anti-racist. If you’re white and have a racist in your family, this isn’t the time to sit idly by, this is the time to CALL THAT OUT and let them know that they are in the wrong. Don’t do anything that makes your life unsafe, but don’t be afraid to make yourself uncomfortable. This isn’t the time for lip service. This is the time to do the work.
*Note that the way calling systems work, sometimes congressional representatives will ignore calls/emails that do not come from proven constituents, so calling one’s own representatives is still the first and best bet. However, reaching out to elected officials in other districts and/or encouraging people who are their constituents to reach out is a worthwhile effort as long as you do not misrepresent yourself and claim to be a constituent when you aren’t.
Below you will find lists of places to donate, black businesses to support, articles to read, videos to watch, and books to read. More will be added as I gain knowledge of them and I have the bandwidth to update this space.
PLACES TO DONATE:
ActBlue (Split donation between dozens of community racial justice organizations and bail funds across the country)
BLACK BUSINESSES TO SUPPORT:
Spreadsheet of Black-owned businesses in Boston: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1_wvyIj3w5F8XJn0leuGD5M9sAmaBKT8N2j0fEV0Df5I/edit?fbclid=IwAR2VWMIaqwlKzd6J5vM35KrDXnlYNzHDVbiHCJp-tGwUwR4giEbxOFMlYMA#gid=778167218
11 Black-Owned Vegan Businesses to Support that Ship Nationwide: https://vegoutmag.com/nationwide/lifestyle-article.php?id=40&fbclid=IwAR1LB-g6P3F_jIKR36prlm8BNiyvTYslE-8XMQazfJe3diHgqtHdh8J6PO8
A Big List of Black-Owned Kawaii Brands: https://stephano.me/fashion/blog/black-owned-kawaii-brands-list
A list of Black-Owned Bookstores (sourced from this twitter thread!) Some are closed from COVID-19, but you can still follow them on Social Media:
- Moon Palace Books
- The Lit. Bar
- Uncle Bobbies
- Loyalty Bookstore
- Detroit Book City
- Mocha Books Bookstore
- Black World Books
- Harriett’s Bookshop
- Ashay by the Bay
- Mahogany Books
- AfriWare Books
- Semicolon Bookstore & Gallery
- Source Booksellers
- Marcus Books
- Pyramid Books
- Sisters Uptown Bookstore
- Turning Page Bookshop
- Wild Fig Books and Coffee
- EsoWon Books
- Fulton Street
- Frugal Bookstore
- Shades of Afrika
- Mejah Bookstore
- Dare Books
- Positive Vibes Afrikan Literature Books, Art and Accessories
- Frontline Bookstore
- The Key Bookstore
- Cafe con Libros
ARTICLES TO READ:
An Exploration of the Fundamental Points of Critical Race Theory (Note that I wrote this, and the bibliography includes many of the books listed below, with a few additional citations)
VIDEOS TO WATCH:
13th – Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.
Donate to Black Lives Matter by watching the ads in this YouTube video (if you let this play in the background of your computer on loop with the computer but not the browser sound off you can help all day at no cost!)
Duchess Meghan Markle’s Graduation Address to Her Alma Mater (video at top of article)
How Can We Win? IGTV Video by Kimberly Jones
You Are Valid IGTV Video by Me (Talia)
BOOKS TO READ:
The New Jim Crow. Michelle Alexander
Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism. Derrick Bell
Between the World and Me. Ta-Nehisi Coates
Critical Race Theory: An Introduction. 3rd ed. Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic.
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. Robin DiAngelo.
How to Be an Antiracist. Ibram X. Kendi
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You. (A Remix of Stamped from the Beginning) Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
So you want to talk about race. Ijeoma Oluo