Written by: Kendall A. | Umm Iman
(Originally Posted: June 8, 2020)
Over the past few days and weeks, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding what people can do to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Let me start by saying this, the movement is about more than police brutality. It’s about ending gang violence, the wrongful and exaggerated numbers of imprisonment of members of the Black community, eliminating health disparities and increasing access to quality care, making housing and home ownership available to People of Color, increasing the job market, paying people above minimum wage, not paying Black people less than their White counterparts for the same position, and the list goes on. This movement has to happen at an institutional level, not just personal and interpersonal, and everyone has to be on board. We’re better as a human race together. We’re better when everyone is at their best. We’re better when the playing field is equal from the start.
So, to answer the question: “what can we do?” To me, the “we” here refers to everyone. “We” can all engage in these actions. This list is not exhaustive; however, it is a tangible start:
- Acknowledge that racism is real and not a figment of people’s imaginations. Respect their stories and experiences without adding your input or perspective on their pain.
- Consider how you personally contribute to or work toward dismantling racism, oppression, and injustice in your daily life. Reflecting on our own biases and prejudices, and then pushing ourselves to be ridden of those notions through interpersonal work is important. Take the time to actively engage in politics to make systematic changes.
- Self-educate and share knowledge with your children and communities. Invest time in learning more about how history influences our present reality and contextualizes what is happening in our country. Share that information with your own communities in helping others to understand and make changes. Teach your children to embrace all people and treat everyone with dignity–to judge on the content of character, as opposed to anything physical.
- Continue to ask questions in compassionate ways to understand without judgment. Listen to a variety of perspectives. One person does not speak for an entire race or group of people. Be open-minded to hearing the multiple views of an argument.
- Make sure that your friend circle, businesses that you support, books, and toys in your home reflect diversity in race, color, ethnicity, language, religious background, socio-economic class, familial structure, and more. This is very important for children to see that the larger world and the smaller world of their home represent the diversity that makes the world an interesting place.
- Support Black-owned businesses by making an effort to research to stores, banks, products, etc. that meet your needs.
- VOTE! Make sure that you are registered to vote and know where the polling locations are. One of the biggest forms of disenfranchisement is for polling stations to change last minute or be moved to places that are inaccessible for people without cars. We have seen effective efforts in cutting off the Black vote. Try to stay ahead of it as much as possible. Voting is important, not just for presidential elections, but also at the Senate, Congress, state, and local government levels. Do not let your vote go to waste, because you don’t like either candidate.
- Donate to organizations who are on the ground and dedicated to doing this work. Every dollar helps, as well as any time that you can give in volunteerism.
- When you see something, say something. Take a stand in whatever small or large ways feel comfortable and safe for you. Having an “activist heart” looks different everyone. Some people are marching on the frontlines, while others are protesting virtually. Every medium has its place, audience, and impact. Don’t downplay any of them.
- Make dua/pray for peace, for change, and for unity. Never underestimate the power of prayer in effecting positive change.
Stay safe and keep working toward a better world for everyone.