Keep the Momentum Going: Ways to Support Black Lives Matter Beyond Protesting
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. David McAtee. You’ve heard these names not because of these people’s accomplishments, but because they were murdered by men who felt threatened by them because of the color of their skin. They are a few of the reasons we say, “Black Lives Matter.”
The murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day at the hands of the Minneapolis police is one of the most recent tragedies within the Black community. His death sparked a new round of protests around the nation, calling for attention to the problem and action by policymakers. It’s sad to say that this is not the first time we’ve had to flock to the streets to demand that Black people are treated with the same respect as their White counterparts.
If you’re new to the Black Lives Matter movement, or simply looking for some resources to get involved, keep reading.
The Black Lives Matter Movement
So, before we get started exploring all the actions you could be taking right now, let’s first answer the question, what is the Black Lives Matter movement? Founded in 2013, BLM is an organization on a mission to end the mistreatment of Black people across America, specifically at the hands of the police.
The group, and subsequent hashtag, sprouted in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of the man who unlawfully took his life. It’s a group of concerned citizens who are dedicated to doing the work in our communities to erase white supremacy and the acts of violence against Black people by the police.
Here are some other issues the BLM movement is working to correct:
- Erasing racial injustice
- Criminal justice reform
- LBGTQIA+ rights
- Solving economic injustice
- Making healthcare accessible for all
- Access to a good education
- Ending voter suppression
If you’re interested in learning more about Black Lives Matter and how you can be a part of the movement, you should visit their website. Join their mailing list to get emails about news, current events, and information from a local chapter near you. And, of course, you can donate to the cause.
What Needs to Happen
This nation has an issue with dehumanizing Black people and devaluing their lives. It’s especially evident in the people who are supposed to be responsible for the safety of their community—the police. It’s time that we acknowledge this issue as a nation and make a strategic plan to remedy it.
So, what exactly do we want to see happen?
Defunding the police
One of the first goals of the Black Lives Matter movement is to defund the police. With less money being directed toward this department, local government officials should be able to fund departments that truly matter to the people, like better education for our children and accessible healthcare.
When there are low-paid and under trained police officers in the field, incidents and negligence can occur. This creates a great opportunity to institute comprehensive training for all officers. Then, a select group of specialized officers with the right experience can take on challenging jobs. It also reduces the risk of police ganging up on people, unnecessary police interactions, and unnecessarily escalated situations.
For example, if a car has highway maintenance issues, send a mechanic. If a car is speeding, use license plate cameras to identify them.
Encouraging education and training in police officers
Doctors attend school for years before they can operate on a human being. Lawyers study the law for years before they can represent a person in court. Why aren’t we treating police—the people who are meant to uphold the law—the same way?
Governments should be encouraging continued education and training in their police officers. That way, they are always growing and learning the best methods to handle certain situations. Also, we need to take a better look at the officers (and their qualifications) who are training new employees. Those with higher education and no violations on their record should be taking the lead.
Less police involvement
In our digital age, it is possible for technology to do some of the work for law enforcement. Cameras already monitor intersections and catch speeders. Why not implement a system that can send a speeding driver a ticket electronically? This does occur in select portions of the United States and autonomous cars could begin to change traffic laws. However, expensive technology is not financially viable for all areas.
Having less police involvement in our communities means fewer traffic stops. It means fewer biases against Black people and other people of color. A recent study showed that Black people are 20% more likely to be pulled over than white drivers. Additionally, Black Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans. If we work to reduce these biases and deescalate situations involving police, we could save hundreds of lives. And with less police presence at traffic stops, more officers can focus on serious reported crimes and public safety.
Hold the wrongdoers accountable
Last, we need police officers who abuse their power to be held accountable. The start is demanding justice for George Floyd, whose four murderers were taken into custody last week. It’s definitely a win, but it is far from the end.
We need to continue fighting for justice for those who were lost then disregarded by the police. Many cases were left open without any arrests made. Our government should build a board or group of advisors that will oversee the police departments to keep them accountable.
At the end of the day, police officers need to be trained to protect the people. Unfortunately, many officers are trained with a military mindset—to protect themselves at all costs. Sometimes, this is displayed as a mindset to kill at the slightest “threat.”
As public servants, police should be in place to help their community. It’s time to end the wrath of these racism-fueled bullies in our neighborhoods . It’s time to bring about some change.
What You Can Do
There are many ways you can step up and show your support for the Black Lives Matter movement. No matter your race, political party, or nationality, you can be an ally. This is not a political issue—it’s a human rights issue.
Keep reading to learn some ways you can show you support, from monetary contributions to simply sending e-mails .
Sign a petition
Signing a petition is one of the easiest ways to share your voice. There are countless petitions out there with the purpose of making a change in our communities. Research local and national petitions that demand justice for the Black people who have lost their lives at the hands of the police. Change.org is a great platform to find active petitions waiting for your support. When we speak in numbers, lawmakers and politicians will have to listen.
Make a donation
There are many organizations around the country that support Black people, ending police brutality, and advancing equality within the US. Many of these are non-profits that fund their efforts through the support of people like you. Want to show your support of the movement? Put your money where your mouth is. Check out these great organizations:
- George Floyd’s Memorial Fund
- Justice for Breonna Taylor
- Justice for David McAtee
- Black Lives Matter
- American Civil Liberties Union
- NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
- National Bail Fund Network
- National Police Accountability Project
- Reclaim the Block
- Many more on PeaceState.org
Additionally, you can do some research in your community to see if there are local organizations that need your support.
Let your voice be heard
It is your legal right as an American citizen to voice your opinion and speak out against injustices. The Civil Rights Protests in the 1950s and 1960s showed us that standing together to voice our demands will make a difference. So, get involved in your community and join a protest.
Over the past week, there have been peaceful demonstrations in all 50 states around the nation. Since the protests have begun, all four officers involved have been charged for George Floyd’s death, and the degree of former officer Derek Chauvin’s murder charge was changed from third to second.
Vote in ALL elections
Don’t let another election pass without making your voice heard. It’s crucial that we remove Donald Trump from office, but it is just as important for us to be represented at the local and state level. Register to vote, and make sure you know when and where the next election is being held in your state and city.
Learn about the positions of your local politicians to make an informed decision about who you’d like to represent you. Then, vote on potential laws that can make a difference in your community.
Share on social media
Social media can provide some important and relevant information, but it can also be incredibly deceiving. It is important to view information posted online through a critical lens and find external sources to confirm or refute those on your news feed rather than accept everything you read as fact.
While social media most often relays snippets of what’s going on in the world, we can use our platforms to tell our stories. Continue to share videos, stories, and hashtags to keep the Black Lives Matter movement going. Beyond the current protests, we must continue to use social media as a tool to organize, stay connected, grow, and learn.
Contact your local officials
You can directly reach the people in your community who are making the decisions that affect the lives of Black people. Contact them to demand justice for the lives lost, as well as policy changes to prevent excessive force and continued negligence by the police.
From local politicians and police departments to attorneys general and judges, you can find their e-mail addresses and send messages about what changes you’d like to see. Many activists are sharing great email templates to copy and paste if you need guidance formatting your statement.
Become an ally
Now is the time for non-black allies to stand up against this systemic and decades-long issue in America. Being silent and complicit in this environment speaks volumes—it allows the system to continue the way it is, and it makes a statement that you are okay with things the way they are.
If you are interested in becoming an ally, don’t be afraid. We need more ears to hear us and show their support. Learn about the situation and explore some of the reasons why people are protesting.
In addition to the suggestions above, you can also take these steps to support the Black Lives Matter movement and bring equality to America:
- Educate yourself about the issues faced by the Black community. Start by reading books, watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, and reading articles.
- Be a listening ear for a friend who has something to say. Research what you hear and don’t just accept it as truth.
- Follow Black activists, creatives, influencers, and more on social media to support Black voices.
- Have conversations in your community to spread awareness and knowledge about these issues, and call out your friends who enact microaggressions (which are subtle, often underhanded comments that may reinforce racist ideologies without your realizing) or excuse police brutality.
- Support Black-owned businesses.
- Promote access to education, and more specifically higher education, for Black people.
- Advocate for investment in the black community, including an end to redlining and other growth-hindering policies. Allow for equal access to financial resources for black people to buy a home, send their children to school, and open a business.
Peace Over Police State
Join PeaceState’s upcoming art activism event. We are hosting a digital and in-person art showcase to benefit efforts against police brutality and white supremacy. Explore our website to learn more about the cause and how to get involved with art activism.
Check your sources and even check these sources, dropping in some links for you to research: