The Black Lives Matter movement has erupted across the nation, following the wrongful death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.
His last words, “I can’t breathe,” are echoed in every state.
The United State’s trend of police brutality against black citizens is not a brand new issue; in fact, it is embedded into this nation’s history. Since Jan. 1, 2015, 1,252 black people have been shot and killed by police, according to The Washington Post’s database tracking police shootings.
Although it should not be necessary, public outcry finally forces local officials to guarantee fair justice to victims. Our communities have said “Enough is enough!”
The BLM movement has grown so rapidly over just a few weeks, and there are a number of ways to support and further the movement’s cause.
Below are five ways you can initiate change in your local community, and country.
1) Educate Yourself & Others
Understanding the foundational building blocks of the movement is the first step one can take. Being educated on the historical significance and present day issues will allow you to better grasp its goals. Additionally, you will be more prepared to articulate these to your friends, family, colleagues, and peers.
Spreading information and resources are just as important! You can use the information you learn to fight to end racial discrimination and systematic oppression. Silence is deafening. Think about using your platform at work, school, and even your social media. Express your support and begin the conversation. This is not a time to remain silent. Not everyone will agree with you, but that does not mean you should stay quiet.
Remember, whether you are or are not a black individual, being an ally is critical. Your help and support is needed. Remember to ask yourself what you can do to support people of color in your community, and how you can be actively anti-racist instead of simply “not racist.”
2) Protests & Volunteering
Use your voice to speak out against injustice. You can engage in your First Amendment right to peacefully assemble to make a stance. You will get the attention of your representatives and they will act. By doing so, it will enlighten and inspire others as you initiate change.
Be sure to be cautious and practice safety measures, like wearing proper clothing or protective gear and staying hydrated. During the pandemic, this includes following reasonable social distancing and wearing masks.
You can make a sign that represents your views or goals of the protest. Please invite your friends or family to join the cause, lead by example. If you are feeling outspoken, you can even plan to give a speech at an event. Joining or teaming up with organizations that share your mindset is another excellent way to get involved. Here is a list of just a few, along with their social media information on Instagram:
- Black Lives Matter Global Network (@blklivesmatter)
- Color of Change (@colorofchange)
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (@naacp)
- The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (@civilrightsorg)
These nonprofit organizations dispense constant news and information, while also explaining how to spark change in your own communities. The tools they provide are endless and are perfect for anyone looking to step up.
Due to COVID-19, some may be unable to attend protests or volunteer and that is perfectly okay! There are a variety of more ways to support the movement that we will continue to discuss.
3) Make Sure they Hear Us
The First Amendment gives us the freedom “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Petitions often call our officials to fix injustices in our society, but in order to gain traction they need to gather enough signatures. By taking the time to understand the purpose of a petition and signing your name, you will help achieve its objective. Remember, multiple voices are far louder than one person. If you would like to gain further information on why petitioning is vital, please visit: https://www.learningtogive.org/resources/right-petition-government
Reaching out directly to our officials is also an effective method. For example, calling their offices or sending an email. All their information is public and easily searchable. This includes local government, state representatives, police department, and more. Before calling, write out a transcript to follow or guide you. Here are some interchangeable tips for emails and calls: state your full name in the beginning along with your address (city and state), be brief yet firm, humanize your message, and always be sure to proofread before sending.
Often, people will share their own email templates with direct links, and numbers to call or text, be on the lookout for these, too!
Funds are an essential part of this movement. They can be used in various ways. Multiple organizations (including those mentioned above) mention how you can donate on their websites. Each institution allocates donations differently, but they have the same overall goal: to help progress the Black Lives Matter movement. Every penny donated will go toward transforming the future of our country. There is a list below of various funds. Take some time to research and donate to ones you believe your principles most align with and think about where your contributions will best be used.
- George Floyd Memorial Fund
- Minnesota Freedom Fund
- Bail Project
- Reclaim the Block
- Justice for Breonna
- The Innocent Project
Never underestimate what your donation can do. Give whatever you can.
Many have forgotten the privilege of being able to cast their vote. Our vote is essentially our voice; therefore, we must be informed on the candidates and proposed measures. You can look up who represents your state and community, plus when elections are scheduled by visiting: https://myreps.datamade.us/.
If you are 18 or older and qualified to vote, please exercise this important ability. Always encourage others to do so, as well. Our lost brothers and sisters, present ones, and future generations are counting on your vote. The people’s vote today will determine outcomes of legislature and laws tomorrow. It will undoubtedly lay the foundation of the path our community and America will take. If you are not sure if you are registered to vote, need to register to vote, or want to request a ballot, go to: https://www.vote.org/.
By engaging in these five different strategies, we will form history, we will save lives, we will redirect our nation, and we will become better together.
Do what you can now, and continue this pattern in the future. The united will never be divided, stay strong. Change is coming!
For more additional information: https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-matters-2020/
Featured photo: Hundreds of people protested the death of George Floyd Friday, May 29, 2020, in front of the Bakersfield Police Department in downtown Bakersfield. Photo by Henry Barrios for Kern Sol News