No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. —Nelson Mandela
For the past few days, I’ve been trying to take time to process the horrible events that have happened recently.
My heart aches at the tragic loss of George Floyd’s life and the injustice we’ve witnessed.
Additionally, the generalization of groups of people (specifically, black people and law enforcement), watching people’s dreams go up in literal flames, and the pain others, especially that of my own friends, are sharing has left my heart feeling very heavy.
I’ve shared content regarding racism on my Instagram for the past several days, but held back on writing and publishing an article as I’ve been searching for the right words to articulate what I want to say.
And if I’m being brutally honest, I’ve been crying because what’s happening in America right now is very personal to me.
I’ve had my fair share of racism and being mistreated by police (which is a made-for-the-movies story for another time), but I know my experiences are NOTHING like what my black brothers and sisters are going through, NOTHING like what my cop friends are experiencing.
To fear going outside for a simple jog, to constantly worry if a loved one will return home safe, to be able to sleep in peace, to drive without being pulled over for your skin color, and to wear a badge and pray you make it through one more work day while you protect the public are just a few examples of what BOTH groups are going through right now.
While I may never fully understand what both sides are going through, I can do my part by writing this article.
That said, in today’s post, I will be sharing snippets of my friends’ insights on this topic in addition to links to anti-racism resources you can use to educate yourself.
In this article, you will also find information on black-owned businesses you can support and organizations where you can donate your time/money as well.
Here are some things you can do to respond to racism and discrimination:
TAKE A SELF AUDIT
The first thing you can do to respond to racism and discrimination is to take a look at yourself. Take some time to reflect inward. Take a good hard look and find out who you are and your true belief system.
One of my closest friends, Austin, shared this with me, “I promise you, taking 10 minutes to think about your subconscious biases and realizing you have them (we all do) won’t make you a bad person. It won’t condemn you as racist, prejudiced, selfish, or anything you were/weren’t already. It makes you aware. It makes you thoughtful. It means you care. More importantly it could save a life one day.”
As Americans, we are privileged to be able to learn freely. We all also have the ability to make the world a better place by learning from one another. From there, we can apply our knowledge with action to enact change together.
We have the blessing to have access to so many resources like books about anti-racism we can turn to in order to educate ourselves on the issues surrounding white privilege, discrimination, and injustice.
A kids book about racism is a fantastic place to start with your children right in your own home. A Kids Book About also has books on other important topics such as anxiety, depression, body image, and more should you need anything else for your children.
If you’re looking to purchase books for yourself, here’s a list of black-owned bookstores you can support.
And if you’re a part of the unemployed and can’t afford to buy books right now, reading anti-racism articles, listening to podcasts, TedTalks, and watching films/tv series and personal videos is a wonderful start to changing the world for the better.
While you’re at it, take time to read/watch about people’s personal experiences with racism.
If you want to know how some people are feeling:
My friend, Remi Adeleke, shared his thoughts on IGTV.
My friend, Leah Frazier, shared how she feels right now.
My friend, Isaiah Stanback, shares how he feels.
Danielle Coke, artist of the beautiful content you’ve been seeing on Instagram, shares her thoughts from a faith-based perspective.
Dana Jackson, founder of Beneath Your Mask skincare gave it to us straight.
My friend, Andre Gordon, shared this beautiful photo of his family with an important hashtag.
Please be aware that everyone’s experiences and levels of pain are different. No matter the type of experience, racism is still racism.
If you’re interested, here’s my personal experience with racism.
Do your part and research a ton of this topic yourself. This article on prison labor that one of my best friends shared on her personal Facebook page says a lot.
Along with her post, she said, “Another example of systemic racism: the racial bias in our prison system. We have the largest incarcerated population IN THE WORLD, the majority of them are incarcerated for non-violent crimes (some 80%), and they are disproportionately Black (40% of those incarcerated, though only 13% of the US population is Black). And US corporations are using prison labor to increase their profits…and we are ok with this? How many can say, like me, that you didn’t even know prison labor for corporations was happening until recently (or just now)? That is systemic racism at work, hidden in our systems without the majority even being aware of it!”
Learn about the root causes and research past events in history such as the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921.
HAVE UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS.
Love/hate is like a domino effect. This is about the human heart and knowing that kindness/hatred begins with you. From there, what’s being taught in your household is what will bleed into the world.
Call out those close to you when you see them making sly remarks or inappropriate comments. Correct them, explain why, and most of all, come from a place of love.
Talk to your friends. Ask them how they’re doing, what they’re feeling, and what you can do. If you can’t find an answer to a question during your research, then ask them questions. There are many people who are open to having conversations, but it’s not their job to teach you. It’s up to YOU to seek so YOU can understand.
Having uncomfortable conversations with our black and blue communities to further our understanding, is one of the most effective things we can do. While you’re at it, work on your emotional intelligence. You’ll find that communicating with others will become easier over time.
Understand better by learning how people of color respond to racism. Once you understand, educate others, and start with those living under the same roof as you.
TAKE BIG ACTION.
Like former President Obama said, use your words and your ballots to enact change.
Pick up your phone and text FLOYD to 55156.
Call, send a text message, or write to your local political representatives.
Sign petitions on places like Change.org.
Where you spend your money also speaks volumes. Donating a dollar to the official George Floyd Memorial on GoFundMe and organizations like Communities United Against Police Brutality still says something.
SUPPORT/DONATE TO ORGANIZATIONS THAT SUPPORT THE BLACK COMMUNITY.
Before I begin this segment, I ask you of one thing: do not generalize groups of people.
Other places you can donate your money to are organizations that support human rights. And if you don’t have the means, the least you can do is use your social media platforms to share so others who do have the means, can donate.
Organizations you can support:
Harper’s Bazaar also did a great job compiling a list of organizations by state you can support through donations.
SUPPORT BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES.
Like I said before, money speaks. And supporting black-owned businesses is important now more than ever.
Here are some black-owned brands you can support with your wallet:
Beneath Your Mask (non-toxic skincare)
chloédigital (Influencer/blogger tech support)
Cushnie (fashion – also sold on ShopBop, Net-A-Porter, and The Outnet)
KLUR (vegan & cruelty-free)
The Lip Bar (vegan & cruelty-free)
Mented Cosmetics (vegan & cruelty-free)
OUI the People (sustainable shaving)
You can also support by buying and reading books by black women authors.
On a similar note, Scores Sports Bar in Minneapolis had planned for a grand opening. However, with shelter-in-place rules due to COVID-19, owners, Kb and Tywana had to delay launching their dreams. Kb and Tywana ended up losing their business to as a result of the rioting. All this as they mourned with their community!
Take this time to find black-owned businesses who have been affected by the rioting and support them too. If you have the means, please donate to Kb and Tywana’s Scores Sports Bar GoFundMe.
To anyone whose businesses have been affected, remember, a set back is a set up for a great come back!
BE OPEN-MINDED TOWARDS THOSE WHO ARE SILENT.
Before you respond, hear me out. Please understand that everyone thinks and processes things differently. Some can express their emotions publicly and some can’t and need to do it privately. Some people don’t know how to communicate what they’re feeling while others need time to process their thoughts.
As a person of color (POC), I know that there are some people who genuinely do not know how to respond to racism or anything related to this topic.
And to me, that’s okay for several reasons: 1) they were raised to not talk about their feelings/emotions, 2) they’re trying to understand, but genuinely can’t because they aren’t black/POC, and 3) they know the words they speak cannot be taken back so they’re trying to be cautious. Some people are afraid they might miscommunicate something they don’t mean.
By no means am I excusing those who are silent. I am exercising emotional intelligence through understanding. And I’m asking you to try and do the same too.
One of my friends, shared this on her Facebook page, “I have been so afraid to speak out for fear of saying the wrong thing, for fear of offending, for fear of not being politically correct.” I believe her too.
To my black/POC friends, let’s be a bit more understanding. Part of our job as a friend, is to listen and educate those who don’t know how to communicate what they are feeling. We can discuss in private and ask why our friends have been silent. You’ll be surprised at what you learn.
To my white friends, since we’re all human, it’s in our nature to not be perfect. We will mess up even when it’s not our intentions. Trying to do what’s right is still intentional and your POC friends will see that you’re at least trying to share how you feel. We can see who has genuine hearts and who doesn’t so don’t be afraid to speak up.
USE YOUR PLATFORM
I, for one, am thankful for influencers like Kat Tanita, who are using their blogs and platforms to share their thoughts and provide resources on what you can do. We all have a voice and the freedom to use it in a positive way.
Here are non-black influencers with massive followings whom I feel are genuinely sharing about this topic:
IF YOU ARE FOLLOWING ANY INFLUENCERS WHO ARE SHOWING A SINGLE IOTA OF RACISM, I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO CALL THEM OUT (AND UNFOLLOW THEM).
These two actions make your message loud and clear: that you do NOT tolerate racism.
I know this article is quite lengthy, but I’ve learned to “do what you can with what you have” and firmly believe that this post can be a force for good.
Even though my following is small, I’m aware that I can go the extra mile and do my part by writing this article and publishing it on my blog. And I can go an additional mile and do my part by talking about it in my weekly email newsletter, which will be in your inboxes this Thursday.
I’ve always believed that “you can be the change you wish to see” because it does begin with you.
And if you’re wondering what I’ve done aside from writing and publishing this article, I’ve donated money, signed numerous petitions, tweeted links, and shared content on Instagram stories both on my professional and personal accounts. I say this because someone (there’s always one) out there will be quick to judge that I didn’t do enough.
And yet, to me, I feel like it’s not enough for my black friends and my friends who are cops (whom some are also black – I believe I can support my friends in both groups and hope they can see that I love and support them).
It’s my prayer that my small acts contribute to bigger and positive changes and that we as humans can stand together in peace and love.
I pray that we NEVER allow ourselves to be numb to racism. I pray that we never prioritize our feelings/emotions over others’ basic human rights.
And I pray we NEVER stop fighting for a better America and that we all have the courage to stand up for what is right and call out others when they’re in the wrong.
“Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than self kind of understanding. —Bill Bullard”
For every person who has/is experiencing any form of racism, I’m praying for you.
I will also continue to do my part to unite humankind. And for those reading this article, I pray you do as well.
As we all work on learning how to respond to racism, remember that it’s a process. We have to acknowledge that this will take time because we are working on undoing hundreds of years of systemic racism. It’s not impossible. The hard work begins with the hidden work: your heart.