There seems to be two viruses ravaging our nation. COVID-19 and racism.
Monday, May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a black man who worked as a security guard at a local Minneapolis restaurant was killed by Officer Derek Chauvin. Police responded to a call reporting that a man was buying food with a counterfeit $20 bill. The officer later identified that this man was Floyd and approached him in his car. After Officer Thomas Lane pulled his gun on Floyd, he proceeded with arresting Floyd and getting him out of his car. Floyd was seeming claustrophobic and began to fall down and panic-rightly so. He did not resist arrest and was compliant with the officers.
Shortly after, two other officers were called into the scene (even after Floyd was compliant), whom were Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao. Derek Chauvin apprehended Floyd who had his knee on his neck while Floyd yelled between gasping breaths “I can’t breathe,” and “Mama…please,” and “please don’t kill me.” Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds—at just 2 minutes and 53 seconds, Floyd closed his eyes and became unresponsive. They could not find a pulse and Floyd was pronounced dead later at Hennepin Healthcare.
Floyd suffocated to death, killed by a cop whose order is to “protect and serve.” All over a perceived fake twenty-dollar bill.
And this comes only a few weeks after Ahmaud Arbery’s death, who was chased and gowned down by three white men who claimed they followed him because he “looked like a suspect in a string of attempted burglaries in the neighborhood,” even though there were no suspected burglaries reported that week. Ahmaud Arbery died while running; an innocent man on his morning jog. For more on the facts on his case click this link. The men involved in this murder have since been arrested.
Both George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery died just as Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, and Breonna Taylor did. And let’s not forget the thousands of other black men and women who suffered death and abuse perpetrated by racism, white supremacists, and police officers whom have not been captured on video, all for being black.
We live in a country that is continually being fueled by racist profiling, discrimination, white supremacy, injustice, and the silent apathy of too many American citizens. If we can all ask ourselves this question; Would I want to be treated like Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the thousand other black men and women killed at the hands of crooked police officers and racist citizens? If we don’t want it happening to ourselves and our own children, black white, Latino, Asian, Arabic, disabled, young or old, then why do we stay silent or apathetic when it happens to our fellow brother or sister in humanity?
Being “not racist” is NOT enough. You must be “anti-racist.”
I am reminded by a few quotes that continually remind me of my duty as a human being when seeing injustice all around me:
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice then you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Desmond Tutu (South African antiapartheid and human rights activist)
“The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it is indifference.” Elie Wiesel (Holocaust survivor)
“Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Elie Wiesel (Holocaust survivor)
“What hurts the victim the most is not the cruelty of the oppressor, but the silence of the bystander.” Elie Wiesel (Holocaust survivor)
“Are we hungry for justice? Or are we too full with our privilege?” Carlos A. Rodriguez (Christian activist)
Having said that, here are some steps you can take to make a change:
1. Stay educated.
A. Read books on the history of white privilege, racism in all its forms (institutionalized, and systemic), the real history behind the found of America, etc. Please don’t buy these books from Amazon but buy them from Black-owned bookstores. Here are some books I recommend:
1. The School to Prison Pipeline by Nancy A. Heitzeg
2. Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans From the Civil War to World War II by Douglas Blackman
3. Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America
4. This link will take you to a list of other books that SNMA has recommended!
B. You can also listen to podcasts tackling issues on the multi-faceted layers of culture, racism, politics, and other social issues. Here are the podcasts I recommend:
1. The Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill (Reporting and incisive commentary discussing crucial issues such as National Security, Civil Liberties, Foreign Policy, and Criminal Justice.)
2. 1619 from The New York Times (“In August of 1619, a ship carrying more than 20 enslaved Africans arrived in the English colony of Virginia. America was not yet America, but this was the moment it began.” Hosted by Pulitzer Prize winner Nikole Hannah-Jones, this podcast chronicles how the black community has built America.)
3. Intersectionality Matters! From The African American Policy Forum (Hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a leading critical race theorist who coined the term “intersectionality,” this podcast dissects the academic term to life. Each episode brings together conversations with political organizers, journalists and writers.)
4. Throughline from NPR (Hosted by Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei, the two uncover systemic racism in America. NPR’s website recommends you listen to “American Police,” “Mass Incarceration” and “Milliken v. Bradley.”)
5. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (A comedic-but still informative-take on issues and news both nationally and internationally.)
6. Pod Save the People with Deray (On Pod Save the People, organizer and activist DeRay Mckesson explores news, culture, social justice, and politics with fellow activists Brittany Packnett Cunningham and Sam Sinyangwe, and writer Dr. Clint Smith. They offer a unique take on the news, with a special focus on overlooked stories and topics that often impact people of color.)
7. The Breakdown with Shaun King (Activist Shaun King unpacks important stories of injustice, racism and corruption and educates listeners on how to fight for justice and take practical action steps.)
8. Notes From Her with Xochitl Hernandez (This is a shameless plug because my podcast takes stories from women of color musicians providing a platform and space for multicultural women and their music/art to be amplified for social justice purposes. Think music and entertainment has nothing to do with social justice? Think again.)
C. There are also great documentaries and shows you can watch on this topic to better stay educated. Please note they are hard to watch, and may be triggering. Here’s a list, all of these are available on Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu:
1. 13th: From Slave to Criminal with One Amendment
2. Fruitvale Station
3. When They See Us
4. The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
5. Freedom Riders
6. Freedom Writers
8. Slavery by Another Name
10. Eyes on the Prize
11. Dark Girls
More books, films, and education resources can be found on NPR’s website here.
2. READ THIS. It is the “Enough is Enough” report on data and research to creating a new system of community policing and abolition. They state their work, data and “…interviewees also share their perspectives on what effective crisis intervention and service provision could look like without police interference – in order to generate specific proposals for a police-free future in each of these areas.” Their strategies and policy solutions show how police should not and does not need to handle everything. This is created by MPD150 who does not need donations right now but does ask for donations for Reclaim the Block, Black Visions, Minnesota Freedom Fund, North Star Health Collective, and George Floyd Memorial Fund.
2. DONATE to Campaign Zero and READ their list of Urgent Policy Solutions (informed by data, research, humans rights principles, and ways we can change the way police serves our community.)
A. Here is a great list of comprehensive, urgent policy solutions to amend police brutality including SO MUCH research behind reformation and police brutality as well as resources to help support these policy solutions.
3. Also DONATE to Black Lives Matter to help fund their cause.
4. DONATE here to another list of GoFundMe’s, bail funds, and other links to organizations and causes fighting on the grounds! Update: Click here for another link to such GoFundMe’s and organizations.
5. Have conversations with people. Don’t be afraid to listen, setting aside personal biases, prejudices, judgements and ego in order to actively listen to others. Listen when your people of color friends are telling you about their experience. Be willing to have uncomfortable conversations with family and friends who may not understand these issues and ideologies.
6. Actively engage. Go to your local protest, demonstration or rally-you can find the closest public action nearest you by clicking here. (And in this pandemic, if you are high-risk or live with someone whose health is high-risk (like I do) and cannot engage in a public protest with other people, engage in public action via social media. Raise awareness of issues and speak up by sharing posts, prompting conversations, and sharing news on social media platforms. Reminder to be sensitive about trigger warnings in the material you share.)
7. DONATE to Lake Street Council’s fundraiser organized to help rebuild damaged small businesses (many immigrant-owned) on Lake Street, Minneapolis in the wake of the Minneapolis riots. DONATE HERE where 100% of the funds raised will go to rebuilding the businesses and restoring lost/damaged goods. The following are other links to donate to help rebuild damaged small business:
- Donate here to help Black Lives Matter organizers raise funds for damaged businesses in Dallas, New York, and Atlanta.
- Click here to access a thread to donate to funds to help damaged small businesses in different cities.
- Click here to access a thread to donate to funds to help Black-owned damaged businesses in Atlanta.
8. Other ways to actively engage besides going to a protest or rally.
–Attend a Town Hall meeting to be informed and let your voice be heard in regard to local issues. Go to Town Hall Project enter in your zip code to find your Town Hall event nearest to you.
–DONATE to to help protestors on the streets providing funds for food, water, protective gear, medical supplies, and medical professionals on the front lines. Organizations dedicated to providing tangible resources to protestors are North Star Health Collective, Food Justice for Frontlines and other links to donate to here. The following are updated lists of where to donate to help protestors:
A) Donate here to help Charleston, South Carolina protestors for bail funds, water, food, and other supplies.
B) Click here to access a thread of independent frontline youth purchasing safety supplies for protestors.
C) Donate here for Los Angeles City’s Peoples City Council Freedom Fund.
D) Click here to access the websites to almost 20 different bail funds by each city.
–Call Your Senator. Call Your Local Representative. This is a great guide providing scripts for people who are shy or don’t know what to say once on the phone!
–Always sign petitions and make sure they are legit! Change.org always has legit petitions such as for George Floyd.
–VOTE. Always VOTE.
– Click here to access a thread of lawyers representing unlawfully arrested protestors Pro Bono!
–Click here to contact a lawyer who is representing people in Louisville, Chicago, and Indianapolis Pro Bono!
–Click here to access contact info for California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice if you or anyone you know is undocumented and arrested while protesting.
–Donate to non-profits especially grassroots organizations. Click here for a list of a few organizations (local, national and international) fighting for different social justice causes. Click here for more education resources and organization/bail funds to donate to.
–Support local, small-businesses especially those run by people of color.
9. Practice radical empathy. Have an open mind. Practice radical understanding of others’ situations/plights and stop saying “Yes, but…”