I’ve been off of blogging for several days this week since it just didn’t feel as important as following the news about the George Floyd protests and putting my money where my mouth is for the Black Lives Matter cause. But then I realized- I haven’t been using my mouth enough. Or perhaps, my typing fingers. Using my platform (no matter how small) is an important part of how I can contribute, and no matter how prevalent these sorts of posts may be on the internet these days there’s always the chance that I’ll reach even one person who hasn’t seen them elsewhere yet or needs a little more info, and any step that can be taken to help end systemic racism is worth taking. On other social media sites this week I’ve seen an influx of posts with links you can use to make a difference in this time; since I didn’t find as much of that in the blogosphere (big thumbs up to those who have posted about it, on WordPress and elsewhere!) I’m going to add a few of those links and encouragements here, because I want it to be available.
First up, this is the petition link asking for the four police officers involved in George Floyd’s death to be held accountable to the fullest extent for their actions. As of yesterday all four officers involved were arrested, but signing if you haven’t already still helps convey solidarity on wanting this matter taken seriously- the fact that the three officers who stood by are now facing charges doesn’t mean it’s time to let this go, it means the petition is helping. It can do more.
(It’s worth noting that Change.org, the site running the George Floyd petition and others, asks for (optional!) donations, and keeps that money for its own use in turning petitions into legal actions. That’s fair of course, and they claim one victory per hour so their funds are producing results- I’m mentioning it only because it seems to mean that money donated through this site isn’t necessarily guaranteed to go toward George Floyd or Black Lives Matter. If you want to support Change.org and everything it does, by all means do so, but if you’d rather your donation goes directly to Floyd’s family or elsewhere you may want to go through another site to do that. These are things I wanted to know when choosing where to donate; I’m just hoping to help inform anyone who’s confused about the options!) And one more time to be clear: you do NOT need to offer a donation in order to sign petitions. Petitions are free!
But if you do have some cash to spare, there are some great places to send it.
You can follow this link to the GoFundMe for the George Floyd Memorial Fund, which is hosted by his family.
You can go to this site to join The Black Lives Matter Movement; whether you join or not, you can also sign a petition advocating for defunding of police and donate directly to BLM through the same site.
Here is a list of bail funds for protestors organized by state and city; some, like the Minnesota Freedom Fund, the Brooklyn Bail Fund, and Free Them All 2020 (also New York based) have asked for donations to go elsewhere as they’ve had a very successful turnout already. There are plenty of states still accepting donations to help release protestors who’ve been detained by police, and even some cities that don’t need funds at the moment are asking for volunteers to help with footwork, so be sure to check out different ways you can help in your area even if the bail funds are closed to donations.
The American Civil Liberties Union has a Racial Justice division that provides legal aid to those with civil rights complaints, particularly those who have been denied legal rights on the basis of race. You can donate and/or read more about them through this link.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund “seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.” This is the top legal org for racial injustice in the US. You can donate and/or read more about their efforts through this link.
The Black Visions Collective is a Minnesota-based group leading local campaigns that work to empower Black people within their communities and affect a (national) systemic change to end racial oppression. You an donate and/or read more about them here.
Reclaim the Block is running a petition to defund the Minneapolis police force and divert those funds to promoting healthier communities for people of all races; you can read more about it through the site, sign the petition, and/or donate here.
The Know Your Rights Camp Legal Defense Initiative is offering legal resources to MN protestors. You can read about them and/or donate here.
The Antiracist Research and Policy Center is a Washington D.C.-based group that works to understand and resolve instances of racism perpetuated by policies. They’re currently working on the COVID Racial Data Tracker. I believe Ibram X Kendi, author of the non-fiction book How to Be an Antiracist, is the director of this group. You can read up on their efforts and/or donate here.
Here is the BLM carrd full of additional resources; this is updated regularly and includes petitions, places to donate, advice and links to aid for protestors, and more.
In my last post I talked about my goal to read Black-authored books to educate myself and celebrate Black artists. Here is a list of Black-owned bookstores (in the US) and here is another for the UK to purchase from if you’re inspired to go the same route. If so, this is a great list of antiracist literature, with nonfiction at the top. And here’s a large Goodreads list of books by Black authors, fiction and non-fiction, for a wide variety of genres and subjects and stories to dig into in addition to seeking further education on racism.
I’ve talked (and will continue to talk) specifically about books because that’s my niche and I’m sure it’s a top interest for most of my followers as well, but it’s not the only approach. Whatever your interests, whatever you purchase, now is the time to see if you can get it from Black creators and/or from Black-owned stores. Be conscious about where your money, time, and attention is going.
If you don’t have the finances right now but DO have an open internet tab, you can add funds to the cause just by streaming this YouTube video– it’s full of content by Black artists, put together by a Black woman, full of ads, and the proceeds go toward BLM. Watch it over and over. Let it run in the background while you use other tabs.
The bottom line is: Do what you can. I’m not asking you to prove yourself to anyone but yourself. You don’t have to comment or post about where you contributed or how much you spent or what you did personally. Hold yourself accountable. I just want us all to do our best. This is a year for the history books- the time to contribute to the future is now.
This is not an exhaustive list; I acknowledge that it’s US-centered and even MN-centered because these are the places most relevant to me at the moment, as well as the origin of this particular string of protests. (Update: here is a Google doc full of ways to help from the UK, be sure to check it out if this is closer to home for you! It includes tips for contacting your MP, places to donate, petitions to sign, links to free reading materials to educate yourself, and more.) I highly encourage you to look further if none of this advice is exactly what you’re looking for because there are so very many ways to help with your wallet, with your online presence, with your physical self out in the world, and more. Look for resources in your area and support them, however you can. Staying silent is staying complicit- consider the Minneapolis officers now facing charges for standing by while their colleague killed a man. (But also, don’t use your voice to draw attention away from the Black people who need the spotlight right now. Listen first. Then speak to those who haven’t been listening.) Now is the time to speak up if you agree that Black lives matter. Please link further resources below if you see something missing here and want to help spread the word about ways people can help at this time.
I’ll be linking this list of resources to all of my posts for the near future; long-term, I’m working to incorporate more Black-authored stories into my regular reading, to further my own education and to review and recommend these books on my blog in the hopes that more readers will pick them up.
Black lives matter. Black stories matter. Let’s show the world they matter.
Update: I mentioned above that the protests started in response to George Floyd’s death. This remains true, but I want to be clear that at this point the movement is much bigger. It’s about all Black lives, under threat of police brutality. It’s about systemic racism, and the fact that being non-racist is not enough- we must be actively anti-racist in order to achieve justice and equality for all. Additional names are being added to the protest, including Breonna Taylor’s, a Black woman killed by police in her own home; the officers involved have not been charged. Here is a petition to sign advocating for those officers to be held accountable for her death, and here is a GoFundMe that will help Breonna’s family. Another name added to the call for justice is Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man chased and killed by a retired investigator and son for a crime he did not commit. Here is a petition calling for the men who killed him and the police department who failed to arrest them for months to be held accountable for their actions. Here is a GoFundMe intended to help Arbery’s mother. It is important to speak and acknowledge the names of the Black men and women that have fallen victim to a racist policing system. The problem is so large and has been going on for so long it’s unlikely we will ever know all of the names that should be recognized, but we must do our part for those brought to our attention. Donate. Spread the word. Stop this from happening again. And if you know of any further cases please share them below!
The Literary Elephant