Hey Fellow White People: Here’s 5 Things YOU Can DO

Another U.S. citizen has been murdered. His name was Terence Crutcher. He had the misfortune to have a breakdown. And the bigger misfortune of being Black in a country where systemic racism and oppression is so powerful that shootings of unarmed Black men, women, and children by police officers happen almost daily, with little or no accountability. A facebook friend, in pain and frustration, this morning challenged his White friends, those who remain silent in the onslaught of case after case of violence against black bodies, modern day lynchings. Maybe we’re not taking picnics with us to watch these anymore, but if all we’re doing is wringing our hands in distress, or re-posting condemnation after condemnation (mea culpa) its time to act. In that spirit, here are 5 things YOU Can DO right now that would contribute to shifting our culture so that #BlackLivesMatter isn’t just a hashtag but a reality.

Truck photographed recently in Eugene, Oregon
  1. Vote. By all means, vote in the upcoming presidential election. Whatever your views or politics, it is clear that the tenor of the campaign being run by the Republican candidate has made explicit and increasingly acceptable the racism and xenophobia that continues to be a force in the U.S. and globally. So vote in the presidential election. But, even more importantly, vote in your local elections. Find out when your local Sheriff, District Attorneys, legislators, town and city government officials are up for re-election and educate yourself about their politics, funding, and records. Vote.
  2. Be an Ally. A real one, not just a facebook one. Look for opportunities to use your privilege in productive ways. Last week, I was in a taxi on the way home from the airport when my driver pointed out a person in a great mini and heels crossing the street in front of the car. “That’s a man in that skirt,” he said. And I, who have just begun educating myself on the experiences and discrimination faced by the Trans community, I missed an opportunity. Exhausted by the days travel, I replied, “They look great.” That’s all. I could have said so much more, I have a responsibility to say so much more. But I didn’t. Next time, I hope I will. Look for your opportunities.

3. Engage other White people, and not in an accusatory way. It can be tiring meeting people where they are, but we’re all on a journey here and I have my share of wince worthy moments that I look back on. Be a part of your family, friends, and colleagues journey. Engage around Kaepernick or a flyer you saw in your community. For a great article on how transformative compassionate challenge can be, read this:

4. Stop wringing your hands and start writing checks. There are lots of great ways that even small donations can fund social justice work. Black Lives Matter has national and local chapters. Here’s a comprehensive list of other organizations doing racial justice work. Or, some of my favorite organizations are doing this work with youth, in ways that don’t always put them on the radar of racial justice funders (and those are few enough). Silver Line Mentoring and 826Boston are local to Boston, but a little digging will likely turn up others in your area that deserve your support.

5. Attend a meeting, and ask a friend to go with you. Showing up for Racial Justice has chapters all over the country and is a great way to begin to learn organizing techniques, educate yourself on issues of racial justice, and get involved. Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU are also sources who might have additional information on regional or local organizations who hold regular meetings, activist trainings, and other events you could attend.

Would love to hear other thoughts on what we can DO right now.