TOPIC OF THE WEEK: How are you supporting Black Lives Matter?
Sign at the Black Lives Matter protest in Los Angeles, CA. May 29, 2020.
How are you continuing to support the Black Lives Matter movement?
To provide more ways on how to keep the movement’s momentum going on the ground and at home, we asked our staff how they’ve been continuing to support Black Lives Matter.
To support the Black Lives Matter movement, I’ve been donating to grassroots organizations and educating myself about mutual aid in terms of dismantling capitalism (i.e. its perpetuation of systematic racism). As I begin to bring anti-racism into both my thoughts and everyday practices, I feel it is important to address the ways this very collegiate institution is indicative of the problems we are fighting against. I am going into my final semester at the University of Arizona and have not had a single black professor. In an email sent by President Dr. Robert C. Robbins last fall (“Incident on our campus,” Sept. 12), promises were made in response to the two white students attacking a black student that have not been entirely met. Similarly, police were present on campus during the Celebration for Black Lives event, despite the promise that they wouldn’t be. One post on Instagram is not enough. This school needs to have a serious discussion regarding its authenticity in its support of the Black community.
But the main thing that I am doing to support Black Lives Matter is bringing anti-racist practices into my everyday life — acts that go beyond signing a petition or attending a rally. Dismantling white supremacy calls for a transformation in every aspect of American culture. It is essential to understand the ways in which coloniality persists within this country, a way of thinking that allows racism to persist systematically within all social spheres.
These occurrences aren’t over, the language used to describe them has simply changed into something palatable for white comfort. Anti-racism requires decolonization, and I aim to work on this daily through reading, listening and advocating.
The ways in which I have supported the Black Lives Matter movement recently have shifted considerably over the past three weeks. At first I started by making one time donations, singing petitions and reposting resources that I had found helpful. After a few days I realized that while I had the intent of being anti-racist, I was being performative rather than actually making an effective change. From this point on, I decided to focus on educating myself to figure out what I could do to effectively support BLM, not just over the next few weeks, but for the rest of my life.
This reflection helped me realize that I needed to uplift black voices and change my daily actions as well. Going forward, I was incredibly conscious about what I was reposting. I continued to look into and sign any petition that came my way, and set up monthly donations so that my financial support would not just be a one-time thing. I made the commitment to myself that I would support black owned businesses going forward, not just for singular purchases but for items that I constantly re-buy.
After recognizing what I could personally do to support the Black Lives Matter movement, I then thought about the organizations that I identify with and how they were supporting the BLM movement. As a part of a Panhellenic sorority, I recognized that we had a very large platform that was not being used. This prompted me to reach out to our president and members of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee to talk about what we as an organization could be doing better to support this movement. We all agreed that we were not using our platform very well and made the commitment to use our Instagram to educate both our members and our social media followers. We recognized that our organization has a racist past and that it is our job to be actively anti-racist. From this point forward, we will encourage our members and others who will listen to donate, sign petitions and educate themselves.
Now that it has been a few weeks, I have been starting my day by reading a book to better understand how I have played a role in the racist systems that are in place today. Currently I am reading “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla F. Saad. As an ally, it is my job to keep educating myself and to keep this conversation going, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
Coming from a conservative family, I’ve tried to educate myself about what it means to be black in America. The resources that have surfaced since the death of George Floyd have been profoundly helpful in deepening my understanding of the system that has perpetually oppressed people of color for centuries. I’ve done my best to use these resources to educate my conservative family members on why saying “all lives matter” is not helpful and why saying “blue lives matter” is downright disrespectful and pointless. I’m not sure how successful I’ve been in changing their minds, especially with all of the propaganda and fear mongering in the mainstream media. It is difficult living with people who say, “It’s awful that George Floyd was killed, but the looting and burning has to stop,” instead of, “It’s awful that there is looting and burning, but the murder of innocent black people has to stop.” But, I am continuing to educate myself in order to educate my family and also myself.
I’ve also attended a protest in my city. At the suggestion from my boyfriend’s mom, to every Trump supporter who flipped us off or who shouted profanities at us, we simply gave a peace sign to not return the hate.
I have a lot of work to do as an ally, and I will continue to watch, read and share any resource that helps me contribute in the most helpful way to the BLM movement. I suggest every white person reading this does the same because this is a movement, not a moment.
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