Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Tony McDade. David McAtee. Their recent deaths reinvigorated a movement that — due to hard work and dedication of on-the-ground organizers — has been gaining traction for years. Police buildings and cars are burning; protests are happening every day in cities and towns all over the country.
As a Black woman in a Public Policy PhD program, I have seen racial injustice with my own eyes and highlighted throughout my policy studies. Racial injustice goes beyond city limits, educational differences and pay grades. I was active with protests in Chicago, and while I know that not everyone can make that same commitment today, I want to help others learn how they can support in other ways.
I’ve heard many people ask how they can support the movement from their homes. I’m not encouraging you to stay home in this moment, but I recognize that many people physically cannot go out into the streets and others do not feel safe doing so, whether that be because they are at high risk of COVID-19 (Remember the Rona?) or because the police are wildin’ even more than usual.
Because of that consistent request, I’ve come up with a short (and not at all comprehensive) list of ways you can support the movement from your home:
1. Fill out the 2020 U.S. Census so that you can be counted.
I know by now you’ve probably heard that you should fill out the U.S. Census, but let me tell you why. It’s hard to make policy arguments on behalf of a group that doesn’t seem to exist. The U.S. Census is how we get counted.
The Census is our nation’s once in a decade opportunity to know who is in this country. So many decisions are made based off of the Census population counts. It’s how researchers (like me!) are able to better craft policy to support us. It’s also how political representation is assigned. It determines how community resources are allocated. It’s not too late to fill it out and it's super quick. Visit 2020census.gov to fill yours out in under 10 minutes.
2. Think critically and decide how you feel about police, prisons and the abolition of both.
I’m sure I don’t need to convince Blavity readers of the negative role that police and prisons have played in the Black community. There is a long history of resistance against police and prisons in our community. However, despite the persistence of mass incarceration and over-policing, not all of us seem to be on board with police and prison abolition. I encourage you to do some reading to make up your mind about it. Start with Angela Davis’ book Are Prisons Obsolete? and go from there.
3. Donate money and resources to the Black Lives Matter movement, local organizers, impacted families and bail fund relief.
Check out and donate to this national list of bail fund relief for protesters. Also, pay attention and be responsive to resource lists put together and shared by local organizers, whether that be for donation of supplies or funds to families directly impacted by police violence. Do your own research before donating so you aren’t donating to fraudulent campaigns!
4. Share information about donation requests, petitions and calls to action.
I recognize that there are different levels of trauma that people are able to take in. And as Black folks, we are consistently exposed to racism (a form of trauma); however, digging your head in the dirt forever is not sustainable. We need to be aware of what we are facing and we need to help others be aware as well. One way you can help is by using your platform to share information about specific donation requests that arise, petitions that need to be signed, actions that need to be supported, etc.
5. Register to vote and show up to vote on election day.
It’s one thing to talk about supporting the movement, and another thing to make your vote count. Both are important parts of the political process. Registering to vote is simple, quick and easy — visit vote.gov for more information. Let’s get rid of Orange Voldemort in November. If you have local elections coming up before then, even better! Which brings me to my next point …
6. Be an educated voter and learn the local issues and local candidates.
Local politics is where it’s at! We are fighting local issues which manifest at the national level because of the embedded racism that permeates our society. If you have not already, take the time to learn the important local policy issues and candidates who support your humanity. Check out local non-profits who do good work to see if they have a compiled list of issues and candidates for you to explore further.
7. Read to learn the history of structural racism in America.
For those of us who went to public school — and probably many who did not — you likely have realized that your K-12 education did not teach you the deep truths about structural inequality in our society. This moment demands that we are well-aware of how we got here.
Check out structural reading lists available all around you. You can start with a few of my favorites: How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, Root Shock by Mindy Fullilove, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein or Evicted by Matthew Desmond. But there are plenty other antiracist reading lists you can check out on Google, as well.
8. Educate others about the history of structural racism in America.
Once you’ve read, share the knowledge with others so they can be just as hype as you are! Host a virtual book club with friends or a Zoom discussion group with family to unpack the role that racism plays in all areas of human life. Racism is embedded in every system, including education, housing and healthcare, so you can start with any topic!
BONUS: Familiarize yourself with gun registration laws in your state.
I know I said eight things you can do, but as a bonus, check out the gun registration laws in your state — for just in case. It is our right, after all.
At the end of the day, I want to see us win. That is only possible if we all play our roles in this larger fight for justice. Since this isn’t a comprehensive list, I want to know: What else are you all doing to support the movement from home? Feel free to share in the comments below.
Tiffany N. Ford, MPH, Public Policy PhD Student University of Maryland College Park