We are living in a moment of tremendous potential. We are surrounded by change and the potential for more. An important movement is underway: the movement toward anti-racism, justice reform, and to end police brutality and systemic racism.
It would be very easy to do nothing, even if we wanted to help. Life gets busy, we get involved with our everyday schedules, and things that are out of sight seem to disappear into tomorrow. Many of us doubt the impact one voice can have. The world is so big and there are so many people, it is easy to say, “I am only one person, what difference can I make?”
You can make a difference.
It does not have to be a big difference, it only needs to be something. If each of us made a small difference, the world would be a very different place. If we do not pay attention, if we forget, the world will not change and we will lose our opportunity to make a difference.
To use a well-worn statement, “it takes a village” to change the systemic racism we live with everyday. As a person of privilege, you can make a difference. For many, the problem is they do not know where to start. Here I am offering you a few suggestions on how you can help.
9 ways to get involved in the change that is occurring:
1. Get Educated:
It is important to understand why the protests are happening. There is a long history of discrimination and racism and how people of privileged have knowingly and unknowingly participated in it. Read about black history as written by Black writers.
Here are a few suggestions.
2. Sign a Petition:
Petitions are a time-honored way for individuals to be heard. By joining our voices, together we can make an impact. You can find and sign some of the major petitions demanding justice here:
3. Support Black Lives Matter:
In 2013, when Trayvon Martin’s murderer was acquitted, the Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc was created. It is an organized movement advocating for non-violent protest against incidents of police brutality against African-American people in the US, UK and Canada. It works through protests, petitions and other activism to eradicate white supremacy and fight against violence.
Here’s how you can support Black Lives Matter:
4. Educate Your Children:
After you have educated yourself, the most important thing you can do is educate your children. Our children are our future, and how they treat others will depend on what you teach them through your words and your actions. Educate them about racism and slavery. Develop an appreciation for black culture and cultural figures. Find books, games and toys that include cultures other than your own. Make diversity a normal part of your child’s everyday life.
These teaching tools can help:
5. Get Involved With a Racial Justice Organization:
You can join or donate to other racial justice organizations working to dismantle racism. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
6. Support Black-Owned Businesses:
COVID-19 has interrupted our lives and forced us to look at where we go, with whom we spend our time, and where we shop. Now is an important time to reevaluate where you spend your money. Pay attention to the company’s policy
toward racial justice and support Black-owned businesses.
Here are resources for finding Black-owned businesses.
7. Combat Racism in Your Personal Life:
One of the things that keeps life fresh and interesting is personal growth. Every human being has prejudices. As an everyday part of your life, look inside and check yourself. Where are those pockets of prejudice and racism within?
As you do this, when you hear family members make prejudiced remarks, start a conversation about it. If you hear the experience of people of color being discounted, talk about it. Educate the people in your life.
Here are two explainers to help:
8. Contact Your Representatives:
Government representatives at all levels, local, state and federal, control policy and money around policing. Your local police department is likely funded and has policy input from your local government agencies. You can write, call or email your representatives or the local prosecutors and make your voice heard.
Here’s how to find your reps:
Listen with your heart as well as your mind. Be open to hearing the experience of black people. Make room in your life to hear, ask about their experiences in a caring non invasive way.
Start your listening here:
We have seen social and political shifts in our history that came about through the actions of individual people joining their voices behind one or two common demands. Dr Martin Luther King and his civil rights movement, and the protest against the Vietnam War are two examples. We are beginning to see that shift again right now. Change is happening, but there is still so much farther to go,.
Change is possible, change can happen, but it will not happen unless we join together. Your voice counts, even when you get overwhelmed and discount your ability to make a change. Ask yourself, “What can I do?”and find one small step toward the world you want to see. If we all take that small step, we as a society will cover a significant amount of ground.