Image via The Love Life Of An Asian Guy.
I am ashamed to admit that in the wake of the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, Alva Braziel and the police shootings in Dallas I have felt so overwhelmed, angry, sad, helpless and unable to concentrate long enough to write coherently about them or the larger context surrounding them. I say “ashamed,” because I am aware that my reaction is a speck of dust compared to the universe of pain, rage, injustice and fear in which black people are forced to dwell in this country 24/7/365. No matter how much I may be reeling, I can always check out, post goofy shit for sale on the Internet, cry into my cocktail and generally go along on my merry way. There is no fucking escape for them.
I felt some measure of relief when I read this post by my friend Dana Hunter. It’s a compilation of practical actions that all of us can take to help turn this sorry state of affairs around—and turn it around we must. I don’t know about you, but it helps me to process grief by doing something specific that is asked of me by those more directly affected, even the smallest action, even if I am pessimistic about it making any difference at all. The fact is, it’s worth doing not only because it makes me feel productive and useful, but because all great movements for change require countless small actions by countless people, most of them unseen and unsung. These things add up. Mere drops in the ocean form the great wave.
With Dana’s kind permission, I am sharing her post here in its entirety.
It’s been a horrific week for police violence. Alton Sterling was murdered for the “crime” of selling CDs. Philando Castile was murdered for the “crime” of exercising his Second Amendment rights and driving while black. Castile’s slaughter was so egregious that even many of the white folk who typically find some infinitesimal fault on the part of the black man that excuses his extrajudicial execution have to admit this one was pure, undeserved slaughter. Not that they haven’t tried. They always try. It can never be the police who are to blame.
And as protestors peacefully gathered, a sniper in Dallas shot down cops and protestors alike, in a city that was trying to get it right. This will be all the excuse some people need to declare war upon people of color in this country. Not that a clandestine war wasn’t already being waged. Black folk in this country might as well be living in a war zone, see. They’re certainly dying as if they are.
And you may be feeling helpless right now. You may have no idea what to do with your rage and sorrow and pain. If, like me, you’re white, you may not know what do to with the power invested in you by the color of your skin.
Are you ready to listen? Because people of color are telling us what they need. This is what we must do.
Ijeoma Oluo has an entire list of the things you should find out about your local police departments, and what to do with that information. Click it now. Go down it, step by step. Do not stop until you reach the end.
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Here are 15 ways to end police brutality. Let your local, state, and federal politicians know you want them implemented. Don’t let up until they are.
If you see a person of color being confronted by the police, stop and record.
Don’t share images and video of black bodies being brutalized. Humanize the murdered people. Share details about their lives. Show them as the living, breathing, complex, wonderful human beings they were.
Unfriend your racist relatives and friends. Your friends and family of color deal with enough racist bullshit without having to put up with it on your wall. Also, it’s time for those engaging in racist behavior to face the consequences.
Demand police be held accountable for their brutality. You don’t leave the bad apple in the barrel. You get it the fuck out of there. The same thing needs to happen with racist, corrupt, law-breaking, brutal cops.
Educate yourself on ways to combat police brutality. Learn ways to increase police accountability. Encourage your local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to implement these ways to combat bias and reduce racism.
Don’t shoot the police. That won’t solve this. It’ll only make it worse.
If you want to save police lives as well as civilians, get rid of guns. Maybe even disarm the police. And resolve the us-vs-them mentality that is driving the current waves of violence.
Acknowledge it’s not just black lives that are devalued by the police: anyone with brown skin, or a disability, or a mental illness, is at risk.
Absolutely stop with the All Lives Matter bullshit.
Do you still need to be convinced there’s a problem? Someone in your life who needs some evidence stuffed in their face? Here you go:
There’s more. There’s so much more, but you are now equipped to find it. Go seek out the voices of people of color. Shut up and listen. Raise your voice to the people in power. Call. Write. Vote. March. Do everything you can. Because if we don’t pull together, it’s going to get so much worse.
I’d like to add one more thing to Dana’s list: reach out privately to black friends (online and in real life) to offer your condolences and support. Don’t make it about you.
I’ve written before that racism is 100% whites’ problem to solve. Our black sisters and brothers are telling us what they need us to do. Let’s get to work.