No matter where you live in the world, if you have an internet connection or a tv, you’ve probably heard of the Black Lives Matter movement. Despite misconceptions and outright lies by those opposing Black Lives Matter, it is a movement solely designed to help end police violence against African-Americans across the United States. Check out what Black Lives Matter is if you’re not sure.
Since the fatal shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown in 2014, there have been over a thousand deaths at the hands of American police, and it has to stop. That’s why BLM is so important.
However if you’re not in America, or you’re in a remote part of the country, it can feel like anything you do is inconsequential, or it may feel like you have no power to do anything at all. Plus, if you’re young, you may have parents who don’t want you risking yourself getting involved directly with protests that are happening across many of the states right now. But there’s plenty you can do from your own home that will make a difference in the fight for making the USA a much safer and less hostile place for African-Americans to call home the way they deserve.
If you are an American living in America, or even if you’re not, here’s a couple of things you can do to help out from wherever you are.
How To Help BLM From America
Vote. America is democracy, and the only way things will change higher up is if you use the power you have to vote in people who are going to take action. If you don’t already know them, research the representatives in your area/state and find out what their stance is on BLM. If you don’t know, you can call them to ask if they’re in support of the BLM movement and whether or not they’re going to push for legislation in Congress. They’re called representatives for a reason.
Take a look at the Black Lives Matter website. Not only is there plenty of information for the various chapters of BLM that you can join, you can also browse through the “Guiding Principles” page that lays out all of the core values that members of BLM want to promote. Not only do members acknowledge their privilege on a global scale and want justice for all black people, they have a firm stance on representing and protecting the LGBTQ community. A recent study by Gallup estimated that 4.6 percent of African-Americans in the USA identify as LGBTQ – much higher than any other ethnic group in the country.
Join protests. If it’s safe for you to do so, and you know how to keep yourself safe while you’re there, you can join one of the many peaceful protests across the States, and do what you can to add your voice to the other brave people who are taking a stand at ground level.
Of course, not everyone is in a position to do this for many reasons – it’s especially true that getting involved with protests as a minor is often inadvisable due to their unpredictable natures. You might also be out of the country during the time of the protest thus making it impossible for you to join.
How To Help The Black Lives Matter Movement From The UK
Search through the #blacklivesmatter and #BLM hashtags on Twitter and retweet the messages of hope or those educating others to spread awareness. It’s important to let African-Americans have their voices without being talked over – retweeting is a great way to promote black voices without letting any unnecessary opinions get in the way. (However, it’s worth noting that these hashtags on Twitter can get overtaken at times by those supporting #alllivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter, two unrelated and unhelpful “counter-movements” that shouldn’t be supported.)
Donate. There are many GoFundMe initiatives that have been started to help the families of victims of recent police brutality, and the Black Lives Matter website also welcomes donations directly to help fund the work they’re doing. It doesn’t matter how much or little you donate – whether you forgo a coffee or buying your lunch out once this week, it all helps, and you can usually do it from anywhere in the world.
How To Help Black Lives Matter If You’re White
You don’t have to be black to help the Black Lives Matter movement, as mentioned above their principles are very inclusive. However, being white means you have ‘white privilege‘ and it’s important to remember that it should be used to help, not get in the way of what BLM is trying to accomplish.
If you see racism happening, don’t stay silent. Silence allows hatred to keep spreading, and it’s scary to stand up to people who are being bigoted but in the long run, if you change even one opinion or give someone something to think about it can have a ripple effect on others. Seemingly “innocuous” comments can do as much damage as the outright hateful ones, and often telling people the correct terminology to use or what they’ve said isn’t appropriate now is actually appreciated.
Don’t be “color blind”. Much like saying “all lives matter”, if you’re white and you claim to not see color – meaning you don’t “see” black people – you’re adding to the problem. Erasing blackness isn’t going to give black people more of a voice, it’s going to make it seem even less like their problems matter to you. Black Lives Matter is about celebrating blackness and letting people be who they are, so don’t minimize blackness, use your ‘white privilege’ to help raise up black voices – the quiet voices, the angry voices and the voices of those who are in pain.
Above all: listen. If you’re not black, and a black person is telling you they feel targeted, or marginalized, threatened, or taken advantage of, listen. Listen without getting defensive or having to justify the actions of (overwhelmingly white) police. Listen to the ways black people are saying you can help – whether that’s by speaking up or staying quiet.
Hopefully wherever you are in the world and whether you’re black or white you have a little more info on what you can do to help the Black Lives Matter movement in America.