We couldn’t be silent this week, but we also couldn’t have Happy Hour (for what we hope are obvious reasons). So instead, we are going to have Action Hour. We are going to share ways that you can show up—things that you can do right now, today, that will make a difference. This is particularly aimed at the white folks in our community. For those of you who are black, POC, or otherwise marginalized, please take care of yourself. We see you, we love you.
It is important to mention here before we get started, that I am by no means a leading voice or professional on this topic. I am a white person who is working hard to know better and do better. Most of these resources were found through research and the information that other people have shared. Consider this a place to start. Please do not consider it an exhaustive or complete list.
Show up with your body
Showing up in numbers, showing up physically, particularly as white folx is powerful. It is speaking volumes in our country right now. If a physical protest is something you can do, do it.
Look into your local Black Lives Matter chapter (but don’t try to take it over with your energy and good ideas). Find local protests. Make signs. Physically put your non-black body in front of black bodies, if you can. This is the most tangible, physical thing you can do.
Show up with your money
It’s this simple. PAY BLACK FOLX.
So many black people have already done the work for us. They’ve made the art, the podcasts, the films. They’ve written books, spoken out daily on social media. Black people are doing the work, and we can’t take it for free. If we love a piece of art we see Instagram, find the creator, and buy it, or pay them using it digitally. If we learn about racism from a person on social media… find their Venmo information (or ask) and pay them. I know I don’t work for free, but I sure do consume other’s work all day every day for free. It’s time we pay the people who’ve done the work.
Additionally, shop at black-owned businesses, eat at black-owned restaurants, spend your money in a conscious and healthy way. I know Amazon is the easiest way to shop, I know how quick I am to run to Target for something I think I need that moment. Here’s the fact, we can all slow down, do some research, and spend our money wisely while supporting black entrepreneurs and business people. (Black-owned business roundup coming to APW soon!)
Here are a few places to search for black-owned businesses:
- We Buy Black
- Black Wallet
- Black Wall Street
- Eat Okra
- And, we just heard that Yelp is going to add a black-owned business distinction
If you’re able, it’s time to donate. Research local grassroots organizations that are close to home or are focused on the things that feel closest to your heart. Here are just a few ideas of places to put your money where your mouth is:
Show up with your voice
For those of us that are white, the fact is that our voices are seen as more important in many spaces. It’s time to use that. Calling our local and national government, writing to our Senators, Governors, and Mayors. There are websites, tools, and services that are set-up to make this even easier on you. I know that making phone calls isn’t for everyone, but as someone who considers herself introverted and frankly dislikes talking on the phone, I will tell you that it gets easier with practice. And, more often than not you are leaving a message.
- 5calls.org—Studies show that making phone calls makes a difference. This site/app helps you by giving you the phone numbers of who to call, allows you to choose your issues of interest, and sets up the easiest 5 phone calls you’ll make today. Calls average about a minute, so it will be less than 10 minutes total to make these calls.
- CampaignZero and 8 Can’t Wait—They will give you action steps and who to contact to fight for an end to police violence in America.
If you have a social media platform with large groups of followers—raise up black voices (#amplifymelenatedvoices), share your stance openly. There is no room for quietly being non-racist, now is the time to do the ongoing never-ending work of anti-racism, loudly.
Many of us have family and friends who are further along in this journey than we are. Find them, and ask questions. Many of us also have family members and friends who aren’t engaging in this conversation in positive ways—we’re seeing true colors right now. It is not black folx job to educate or somehow change the minds of the rest of the world—it is our job to have the hard conversations. Face racism head-on.
Show up with your brain
There are boundless reading lists in the world, but here are some recommendations from us. Looking for further ideas? This comprehensive list of anti-racism resources is an amazing place to start (created by Sarah Sophie Flicker & Alyssa Klein).
- White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by: Peggy McIntosh
- The 1619 Project is a good place to start to understand the history of racism in America
- “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- So many folks have been putting together comprehensive lists of books to read. I can personally attest to benefiting from White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, PhD. and Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad. A shortlist of Meg’s recommendations includes Between The World And Me by Ta Nehisi Coates, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (it’s magical realism fiction, but truly mind-bending), The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, and Notes From A Native Son by James Baldwin. Many of these books and other powerful and important books are currently on backorder—order it anyway, get the audiobook, or as an ebook—pay the authors. And, even if you borrow it from the library or share it with friends, make a donation in the amount of the book cost if you are able.
There are innumerable films that are educational and powerful watches. Folks have done the work of making the content bite-sized and digestible. Time to watch. Looking for more ideas? I refer you to this more comprehensive list, again. Here are a few personal recommendations to start with:
- 13th—a very powerful documentary from Ava DuVernay on Netflix about the 13th Amendment and Mass Incarceration.
- I Am Not Your Negro—and excellent and brain-changing work based on a book James Baldwin never finished.
- American Son—A powerful drama starring Kerry Washington on Netflix about race and police violence in America.
- Just Mercy—An inspiring drama that follows the true story of young lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his history-making battle for justice. (Free for the month of June on many platforms.)
- Racism Has A Cost For Everyone—A TED Talk from Heather C. McGhee
- Blindspotting—A comedy-drama centered in Oakland. Available on Hulu and other platforms for rent.
Show up with your ears
This anti-racism resource list has a bunch of podcast ideas for you. Here are a few I recommend:
- Pod Save The People
- Black Lives Matter “What Matters”—especially, episode 4 released June 2nd, 2020.
- Brene Brown’s conversation with Ibram X. Kendi (author of How To Be An Anti Racist)
Show up with your time
There are literally innumerable ways to use your time to help these causes. Signing petitions, writing to your elected officials, volunteering, and more. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Text “DEMANDS” to 55156 and/or “FLOYD” to 55156 to receive action steps and information from Color of Change.
- Visit this site to join in the conversation and fight for justice for Breonna Taylor—it’s her birthday today, and her murderers are still walking free and working on the police force.
- Volunteer your time with Black Lives Matter and other grassroots organizations. Protests and marches don’t happen without huge groups of people putting time and energy into them. You can help.
Oh, and VOTE
- Check to see if you’re already registered to vote.
- If not, get yourself registered, NOW.
- Don’t live in a battleground state? Adopt a state now to help. According to votesaveamerica.com, “No matter where you live, you can directly support the work of organizers, volunteers, and candidates in the six key battleground states that will be most important to delivering a progressive majority in 2020.”
- Find ways you can volunteer to get involved with registering voters, joining campaign movements, and more.
- Then SHOW UP on voting day, or vote by mail. No matter how you do it… VOTE. (Scroll to the bottom of this page to learn more about your state and what important dates you should be looking out for.)
This list is nowhere near exhaustive, please know that there is no way we could share every action step that could be taken. Rather, we want to help advance the conversation. No matter how you get involved, this is the time to show up. Frankly, I think Ben & Jerry’s might have said it best:
Unless and until white America is willing to collectively acknowledge its privilege, take responsibility for its past and the impact it has on the present, and commit to creating a future steeped in justice, the list of names that George Floyd has been added to will never end. We have to use this moment to accelerate our nation’s long journey towards justice and a more perfect union.
are there things we’ve missed that you’d like to share? Action steps you’ve taken that we can join in on? Share them with us in the comments. please keep the conversation focused on the things we can all be doing to make a difference. thank you. we love you.