George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. So many others. Their murders are tragic, and racism toward Black people is as pervasive as it is horrible. We must do everything we can to eradicate it.
I have been silent these past couple of weeks, listening and reading and watching and learning, but I am inclined to agree with the sentiment expressed so eloquently by Desmond Tutu:
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
Remaining silent makes room for other voices, but it also supports the status quo. Each of us has a voice, and that voice can be more powerful to our own circles of influence — however small — than the voices of others, even if theirs are more eloquent, more refined, and more important.
Here are my thoughts.
It’s important to understand why people are angry. This Twitter thread provides some insight into the injustices that Black people face in America. This Twitter thread simply asks, “how old were you when a cop first pulled a gun on you?”
If you want to speak out against violence, make sure you heed the advice of Randall Telfer and get your priorities straight:
You keep saying, “it’s horrible that an innocent black man was killed, but destroying property has to stop.”
Try saying, “it’s horrible that property is being destroyed, but killing innocent black men has to stop.”
Police brutality and the leaders who are encouraging and glorifying violence deserve nothing but our strongest condemnation.
- The police are rioting. We need to talk about it.
- The police are treating us as the enemy, writes Mara Gay.
- “The police officers firing tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets — and generally roughing up protesters — have seemed in many ways like counterprotesters more than peacekeepers,” writes Perry Bacon Jr.
- Caught on camera, police explode in rage and violence across the US.
- There is an entire subreddit devoted to “document the violence committed by law enforcement” along with an accompanying website.
- This Twitter thread contains hundreds of examples of police violence. There’s also a corresponding spreadsheet.
- NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea shamefully excuses police who cover their badge numbers and body cameras by suggesting it’s a way to honor officers who have died from COVID-19.
- Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis has finally had enough and speaks out against Trump.
- “American cities are not battle spaces,” says Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I have to date been reticent to speak out on issues surrounding President Trump’s leadership, but we are at an inflection point, and the events of the past few weeks have made it impossible to remain silent.”
- Colin Powell says he agrees with fellow former generals who have condemned President Trump’s actions against protesters.
In short, if you’re angry at protestors, I encourage you to educate yourself on what is really happening and why.
What can you do?
I am so inspired by all of those who are protesting, risking their safety against the dual threats of police violence and COVID-19, but you don’t have to protest to make a difference. Whether it’s speaking to friends and family, donating money to bail funds, or committing to anti-racism, there are plenty of ways to help.
- Listen to and amplify Black voices.
- Talk to your friends and family, especially those who advocate violence or downplay the injustices faced by Black people.
- Donate to Black Lives Matter.
- Donate to Campaign Zero.
- Here’s a list of bail funds you can donate to. Here’s another.
- Here’s a list of resources from the Obama Foundation.
- Here are some ways you can help.
- FB employees are calling on leadership to reconsider decisions made last week, take action, and reduce harm.
What can we do?
Real change takes all of us.
Vote. Of course we need to defeat Trump and his enablers in November, but as President Obama reminds us:
The elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.
In that spirit, one thing you can do at the local level is advocate for the immediate adoption of these eight policies that can decrease police violence by 72%. Meaningful change takes time, but if your city adopts these eight policies, it can make a difference now.
Black Lives Matter.