Life

21 Ways To Support Black Lives Matter If You Can’t Protest

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More than two weeks after 46-year-old George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer named Derek Chauvin, protests about systemic racism and the killings of Black people continue across the country. On May 25, Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for close to nine minutes, suffocating and killing Floyd, as three other Minneapolis police officers watched.

While these protests have garnered a lot of media attention, they've also inspired some major changes in the United States. On June 7, Minneapolis City Council members pledged to dismantle the Minneapolis police department, to invest in more community-led public safety measures. That same day, the Denver Police Department banned the use of chokeholds and carotid compressions (like the one that killed George Floyd), with no exceptions. And protestors arrested in Los Angeles are no longer facing criminal charges or financial penalties.

Being on the front lines of these protests has been an important way to inspire major reforms of the police. But for those with disabilities and/or chronic illness, people currently in quarantine, or essential workers, it may not be possible to attend demonstrations in person. If you're unable to stand or walk outdoors for hours, feel unsafe in large crowds, or can't take off work, there are tons of other ways to support Black people and Black Lives Matter and to protest police brutality.

Here are 20 ways to get involved that aren't demonstrating in person.

1
Listen To Black People

For non-Black allies, this is a time to listen to Black people. This doesn't mean expecting Black people to explain their trauma to you or to educate you on racism. It means listening when Black Lives Matter activists instruct you not to use #BlackLivesMatter with your #BlackoutTuesday black square, validating your Black friends or coworkers when they tell you about their experiences (not trying to compare their lives to yours), and checking your own unconscious bias, as it arises. While it can be tempting to post about your own emotions or share your own stories, it's imperative to let Black people lead the conversations happening right now.

2
Donate To Bail Funds, Mutual Aids, & GoFundMes

If you have the financial means, there are tons of community-driven organizations that you can donate to. While larger or more mainstream organizations may seem helpful, the "charity-framework" can create further social divides between the working class and upper class, perpetuating harmful ideas that poverty is an individual failing and something to be pitied, rather than a product of racism and capitalism, and something to be combatted. "Mutual-aids" or reciprocal, community-collected funds are a way to redistribute resources among a given community.

Donation-based organizations like bail funds and the Minnesota Freedom Fund help dismantle wealth-based discrimination within the justice system by helping both those arrested in the protests and all target populations (those who face higher rates of policing and arrests) get out of jail as they wait for trial.

Mutual aids, like East Of The River Mutual Aid Fund in Washington, D.C., allow community members to both give funding and apply for money and/or supplies.

GoFundMes, like this one for Tony McDade, a Black transmasculine person killed by the Tallahassee police, help the victims and families affected by police brutality, as well as people on the front lines.

You can research bail funds or mutual aids in your city or about causes you care about like food insecurity, sex workers' rights, or healthcare.

3
Donate Medical Supplies To Street Medics

As protests escalate into violent clashes, with the police releasing tear gas and rubber bullets, hundreds of protestors have been injured during the demonstrations, and are being treated by street medics or volunteers with medical training. If you are able to go to a pharmacy or drug store or have products delivered, you can donate medical supplies to street medics and those on the front lines, things like first aid kits, latex gloves, sunscreen, and gauze. You can find street medic teams near you, or donate to ones in cities with large protests like the North Star Health Collective in Minneapolis, Chicago Action Medical, and Ujimaa Medics in Chicago, or the Berkeley Free Clinic in Berkeley.

4
Donate Food & Water

Donating food and water for people on the front lines is another way to show support. Look for a Facebook event or Twitter thread about protests in your area or folks that are organizing. There may be information available about where and how to donate food on the event page. Additionally, look into local food banks or shelters or donating directly to Black people affected by police brutality.

5
Volunteer To Aid With Protests

If you are unable to be on the front lines of a protest, there are ways to help from the sidelines. Offer rides to and from the protests. Hand out food and water at the protests. Ask the organizers if you can help write emails, post on social media, or otherwise share awareness about the protest. Download a police scanner app, and post social media updates if you hear about the police escalating during the protests. Consider marking your house as a safe space for protests to shelter in the event of tear gas or other violence — maybe you hang a "Black Lives Matter" or "Protestors Welcome" sign.

6
Educate Protestors About Their Rights

Educate protestors about the rights people have when protesting. Read up on protestor's rights and share the information by posting on the event page of a group or on your own social media, sending emails out to friends and family that will be at protests, or printing out flyers or posters that you can have available at the protest. Additionally, educate people on how to be an active ally at protests, things like not posting pictures or videos that show protestor's faces, refraining from telling Black activists how to protest (known as tone-policing), and watching out for Black protestors' physical safety.

7
Offer To Take Care Of Children, Or Sick / Elderly Family Members

If there are folks in your area that are able to protest on the front lines but are worried about their children or elderly or sick family members, you can offer to watch their children or family members for free. You can post on your personal social media, the event page for a protest, let friends and family know directly, and have friends and family give out your number to others.

8
Educate Yourself

Your Black friends, family, coworkers, and peers aren't responsible for teaching you about race and racism. There are books for adults about anti-racism like So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo or The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. There are books by Black authors that do not get the credit they deserve, like Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom and What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons.

You can also read up on the prison-industrial complex, how the drug war targeted Black communities, redlining and housing segregation, economic racism, demographics of police killings, how capitalism promotes racism, and how Black people are stopped more by police than others.

Whether you're just learning about racism in America or are in the process of knowing more, the work is ongoing. And in your research, support Black-owned bookstores.

9
Support Black Artists, Writers, Musicians, Filmmakers, & Performers

Because pop culture is too easily dominated by non-Black people, it can take a little extra research to support Black artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, performers, tattoo artists, clothing designers, and more. Music site Bandcamp has a growing list of Black artists, bands, and producers that you can buy music from, (they even have certain days they waive their fees to give Black artists 100% of the sales). Ink The Diaspora is a platform and resource for POC tattoo artists that profiles Black tattoo artists. A quick Google can show you Black-owned clothing brands like Andrea Iyamah or CUSHNIE. Look at local venues and theaters in your area and go when Black artists are performing, follow Black artists on social media, and promote their work.

10
Support Black Businesses & Entrepreneurs

According to a 2010 report by the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency, Black-owned businesses are less likely to be approved for business loans than white-owned businesses. A way to directly protest economic racism is to support Black-owned businesses, restaurants, venues, stores, and establishments. You can Google Black-owned businesses in your area, or post in local Facebook groups asking for businesses to support. Buy gift cards or merch from Black-owned food establishments that may be closed due to the pandemic.

11
Talk To Your Friends & Family About Race

Don't let your uncle get away with a racist joke. Don't shrug it off when your friend from high school posts #AllLivesMatter. Being a good ally means using your platform and position to address racism when you see it, rather than forcing Black people to combat it themselves. Educate your friends and family on racism in America. Show them statistics and reports about housing discrimination or the detrimental effects the War on Drugs had and continues to have on Black Americans. Show them videos depicting police brutality. Question their unconscious bias as they arise. Take the responsibility off of Black people to educate others about systemic racism. Start the conversation in your own community.

12
Share Links & Resources, *Not* Triggering Content

There's a difference between using your voice to educate and uplift and optical allyship, or "allyship that only serves at the surface level to platform the 'ally, that doesn’t go beneath the surface and is not aimed at breaking away from the systems of power that oppress.”

When posting and sharing, don't make it about you. Make it about amplifying Black voices. Additionally, be mindful of posting or reposting graphic, violent content, which can be triggering for Black people. Instead, share tangible ways to get involved: Funds and aids to donate to, petitions to sign, statistics, and reports about racism, emails, and phone numbers of public officials. Do your research and write out scripts that people can use in their emails or phone calls to officials, like the #BrithdayForBreonna letter writing movement started by Cate Young.

13
Donate to Black Non-Profits & Social Justice Orgs

In addition to businesses, think about the things you care about and enjoy, and find Black non-profits, social justice groups, and community organizations that you can support. Do you love the arts? Sports? Food justice? Are you passionate about theater or queer liberation? Although volunteering may not be possible during coronavirus, you can write emails or make calls for the group or post about the organization on social media. Perhaps you donate money or supplies. Contact groups directly and see what they need.

14
Amplify The Voices Of Black People

Changing the dominant narrative means amplifying the voices of Black people and Black history. Read up on the history of police brutality in America. Read about American history from Black authors and Black perspectives, like the Journal of African American History. Read about the ways Black Americans have been barred from monetary security, and made their own economies, like LaShawn Harris's Sex Workers, Psychics, and Numbers Runners: Black Women in New York City's Underground Economy.Share the narratives of Black people, and learn about what racism looks like today.

15
Contact Your Local Officials About Police Budgets & Policy

An actionable way to be directly involved with ending police brutality is researching the police budget and policies in your area and contacting your city officials about it. Do you want less money going toward arming the police? Are you opposed to no-knock warrants? Do you want the police to have nonviolent intervention training?

Get more involved in your local government, i.e., the people that make the rules, policies, and budgets affecting your local police department. While town hall meetings may be postponed for a while, you can call and email city officials, start petitions, and attend virtual meetings.

16
Contact Officials To Investigate Recent Murders

According to Mapping Police Violence, a comprehensive database of killings by police in the U.S., police officers that kill civilians are only charged in 1.7% of the cases. This is because of a lot of factors, namely: there's not a unified system for reporting police misconduct, police departments spend millions of dollars to settle lawsuits, and there's often ties between prosecutors and police departments.

If you're outraged by this, contact local law enforcement, district attorneys, mayors, and other officials urging arrests and investigations when a civilian (especially a Black civilian is killed). Read the crime reports and find out what officers were involved. Look for the numbers and emails for your elected officials on the internet. State that you want a full investigation into the police department, name the officers involved, and ask for a special prosecutor to do the investigation. The Justice for Ahmaud Arbery and #RunWithMaud movements are a great example.

17
Fight Racism In Your Workspace & Communities

Does your company have diversity coordination? Are Black people supported in your workspace? What are your gyms, clubs, or social groups doing to combat racism? Organize within your work and community about ways you can fight racism and develop a more equitable policy. Listen to your Black peers, and see how you can come in service. Host town halls or spaces where your Black peers can share their experiences and grievances. Read up on being a non-Black ally in your workplace. Consult Black leadership and educational organizations that can teach diversity training or provide free resources like Racial Equity Tools or Dismantling Racism Works.

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18. Use Your Skills & Talents

In addition to donating money, consider donating your talents or skills to help support Black people. If you're a visual artist, you can make graphic designs or a website for a local Black organization. If you're good with numbers or social media, help local Black businesses with accounting or marketing. You can edit content or send emails for a group. Find ways to use your skills, interests, and talents to help Black organizations, businesses, and people. You can post your skills on social media or in local Facebook groups and directly contact organizations or businesses.

19
Research Current Petitions & Virtual Movements

There are tons of petitions, virtual protests, online town halls, and ways to be involved from your own home. The website Change.org is an open platform where people can start petitions and raise funds, like Justice for George Floyd, Justice for Breonna Taylor, Justice for Ahmaud Arbery. Sign the #BlackLivesMatter petition to defund the police. Use the NAACP's #WeAreDoneDying campaign tools to sign protests and take part in virtual movements. Use sites like Defund12 that have automated emails to send government officials and council members to reallocate funds from police budgets to social services. Look at condense lists of ways to be involved like this one from Ways You Can Help.

20
Reevaluate The Businesses & Organizations You Support

If your favorite bar hangs up an offensive sign or a store you like gets outed for having some racist policies, you can stop giving them your money. If your favorite magazine or influencer has been radio silent, you can stop reading their stuff. Support Black businesses and organizations, read publications that amplify Black voices, follow Black influencers. You control where your money and attention goes, so give it to the causes you care about.

21
Be In It For The Long Haul

Keep supporting Black businesses, keep donating to funds, being engaged with local officials, holding the police accountable, talking to your friends and family about racism. Even when the literal protest ends, it's imperative to keep working to combat systemic racism in all aspects of your life. As Latham Thomas shares, "This is a lifelong commitment, not a popular one."