For Black Folks Who Don’t Know What To Do.

Some resources for those of us who can’t march.

Shannon Barber
Jul 15, 2016 · 5 min read

For Black folks who for whatever reason are unable to march or protest in visible ways, let’s talk about some of what you can do.

First, let’s talk about action. If you want to be involved in some type of action, let’s talk about things that you can do safely, privately and if need be from home.

Please, if you’re not registered to vote, please get registered here. I know there are lots of reasons folks do or don’t vote, these are highly personal and I won’t argue them. That said, maybe you are unable to make polling places so you’ve given up. Check out this page and see if you qualify to be an absentee voter. We could sit here for fifteen years arguing the relative merits of voting, but for me, there is a sense of personal power to know that I can vote. Maybe you need that, so go and get it.

Find your representative. Head to this website, plug in your zip code and find out who your elected representatives are. Once you know, you can read up about them and find out what, if anything they’ve had to say. Find out how they’ve voted on issues you care about.

Once you know that, let your voice be heard. You can send them email or snail mail. If you want to voice your support you can say something like this:

Dear (insert name here)

Hello. My name is (your name here) I am one of your constituents in (your location here) I have been following your opinions on (insert issue here) and would like to voice my (concern/support/needs here). -If you have suggestions like stop voting for racist ass shit say so here-

(Add other stuff here if you have issues you’d like brought to their attention)

Thank you for your time,

(your name here)

Okay, you don’t have to be fancy about it. You can formalize the language or work it around to fit the narrative you want them to see. You can email this, snail mail it or however you need to do it.

If you have a group of friends, do it together. If you live in the same area you can sign all of your names.

Next thing.

If you want to do something with your social media, try amplifying the voices of other POC. Reblog, retweet, post on facebook. Real talk, this can be risky for some of us. Whether it’s a matter of fear or anxiety about being public with strong opinions, not wanting to be trolled, not wanting to have to deal with racists in our feeds there are things that can be done.

For posting on Facebook, if you know there are people who will screw with you take some time and make a filter. Call it, your woke filter. Filter out people you don’t want to deal with. Let friends know that this is something you are trying and be clear about your boundaries. You are allowed to say, I will not argue about this. You can say, if you behave in an unacceptable to me manner I will block/unfriend/do what I gotta do.

For twitter, if you don’t want to tweet from your own profile, consider making one explicitly for this. Use it to keep track of relevant hashtags, retweets, articles, art, whatever.

Doing things this way does take time and work. Some of us aren’t able to do that and that’s okay too. Please remember these are suggestions not rules.

The social media tips can be used to amplify lots of things. If you find that reading the news and op-eds and whatnot are too much for you, how about being a place for something else?

Personally, when I’ve been overwhelmed with tragedy, I’ve found deep solace in looking at videos, pictures and art by living vibrant beautiful Black people. Try searching for Black artists on tumblr or twitter and boosting those. Try creating a new tumblr and spend some time reblogging all Black folks doing stuff. Being pretty, dancing, poems, singing, graphics, business.

Are you an online gamer?

IF you know of other Black folks gaming, you know how it can be. What about creating spaces to play with your Black nerd friends that are explicitly and actively safe? If you play tabletop games or even board games or whatever, you can invite friends to play and unwind.

Speaking of hobbies.

If you are an avid reader, involved in fandoms, or just have extensive knowledge and ability to find things try curating a list of links or pages that you can give to friends who are having a tough time. Try being in the role of support person with cute puppy videos.

Some people will scoff, but think about it this way.

When you are in the midst of feeling everything about a tragedy, isn’t it great to have someone who will say I know you’re hurting and crying, I can’t fix it but here watch this and maybe it’ll make you smile.

A lot of the discourse about what constitutes doing the work tends towards the ableist. A lot of the discourse on who does or doesn’t matter in the struggle relies upon the tools of the master that I referenced in my last piece.

I don’t want us to do that anymore. Let’s not replicate that part of the world.

Let’s be about it. Let’s be actually revolutionary and make space for everything from fists in the air traffic blocking action to the person who can’t leave their house and boosts hashtags.

It can’t be revolutionary if it’s not accessible and meaningfully accessible in that we allow for everyone to join in however they can and we don’t shame them for it.

A few other quick ideas:

  • If you are great at rapid tweeting and can keep an eye on local goings on, post. Say, there’s a protest at X location and police are there doing X thing please be careful. Warn your people.
  • If you are an artist do what you do best. Make your art.
  • If you are great at aggregating information in the form of links or whatnot, do that. Make lists of fundraisers, hashtags etc and post it for folks to see.
  • If you are super shy and really invested in feeling like a part of things, start slow. Be good to yourself. Resolve to post/reblog one thing a day. Maybe a news article, maybe some historical facts. Something.
  • Got jokes? Make somebody laugh instead of cry.
  • Got a shoulder to cry on? Let somebody cry on your shoulder.

If you are disabled, talk about your disability and crowdsource ways you can engage. Show those in the struggle you’re here too. Can you do transcription for folks? Maybe volunteer to transcribe poets videos.

What’s most important here is that we really dig into the ways we replicate the marginalizations on a micro level.

Let’s destroy the master’s house.

Let’s burn that mother fucker down.

All of us.

All. Of. Us.

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