** First and foremost, to anyone who is reading this, please take this as a reminder to check in on your well-being and your mental health– especially my dear friends in the Black community. I see you. I hear you. I will never be able to fully understand your experiences, pain, and struggles, but I wholeheartedly stand with you in demanding the justice and freedom that should have ALWAYS been yours. I know this country systematically and unjustly makes you feel like you aren’t important, but you ARE. Your voice, your body, your mind, your soul, your heart, your health, your pain, your anger, your sadness, your happiness, your dreams, and your LIFE all matter!!!! (*And I know you don’t need the validation from me or anyone else, but I personally believe it’s always good to remind those we love of their immense worth- so, this is me reminding you that you’re amazing, your strength and passion are inimitable, you are a FORCE to be reckoned with, and you’re a real-world SUPERHERO). **
But even superheros need to rest- both physically and mentally– ESPECIALLY in times as exhausting, traumatizing, and overwhelming as what we’re currently living through.
You may already be aware of these resources, but just in case you aren’t, I encourage you to look into the following African American therapy organizations:
Steel Smiling: this Pittsburgh organization prioritizes affordable mental healthcare for African Americans, and works to bring mental health support through “education, advocacy, and awareness.” If you are a Black person in Pittsburgh in need of mental health therapy, but have little to no health insurance, this organization will help cover those costs, and ensure that you are “connected with a Black, culturally-sensitive, clinical professional in a timely manner.” – Julius Boatwright, Founder & CEO of Steel Smiling.
*If you are a white/ non-black person who would like to support this organization, you can donate here.
The Loveland Foundation: this organization focuses on providing accessible mental healthcare to communities of color- especially to Black women and girls, who are often overlooked.
*Again, if you are a white/non-black ally who would like to show your support, you can donate here.
Another great organization to follow is The Nap Ministry, which prioritizes the importance of rest and self-care, especially for African Americans and other People of Color.
Having the opportunity to heal from trauma can completely change the course of a person’s life for the better; we MUST prioritize mental health awareness and assistance, especially for the African American community.
Furthermore, we must also remember to rest and take care of ourselves, so that we may continue to harness the energy to fight for justice and freedom.
“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
The rest of this post will be focused on the following:
- Sharing direct resources of the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Amplifying & supporting Black voices, thoughts, feelings, art, businesses, etc.
- Advising on how to safely prepare for protests.
- Acknowledging the various, intricate facets of white privilege and sharing educational tools/ resources on how to become more aware, compassionate, supportive individuals in the pursuit of positive social change and justice for ALL- especially Black lives.
- Opening up a conducive dialogue about white privilege and systemic racism with friends, family, and peers, in order to help raise more self-awareness, and- hopefully- inspire people to change for the better.
- Sending messages of solidarity, Pride, support, equality, and love, reminding everyone that no matter your race, orientation, religion, gender, etc.- your life is irreplaceable, and YOU MATTER.
*Think of this as a “directory” of sorts– this post will be packed with a lot of information, and I know everyone is probably feeling fatigued and overloaded, so if you don’t have the physical or emotional energy to read it all from start to finish, please feel free to use the above list as a guide, and scroll to the sections you specifically want to see.
HOW TO SUPPORT THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT
*Visit the following advocacy websites to learn about the movement’s mission, and use them as trustworthy resources to show genuine support through donations, activism, petitions, education, and awareness:
HOW TO SUPPORT AND AMPLIFY THE BLACK COMMUNITY
*Follow and support Black activists who continue to pave the road to justice with their impassioned voices and knowledge.
Here are a few people to help you get started:
(Co-Founder & Strategic Advisor of Black Lives Matter)
(Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter)
(Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter)
(Filmmaker, Director, Writer, Producer)
(Author, Activist, Educator)
(Author, Activist, Educator)
(Comedian, Author, Actress)
*Support local Black-owned businesses and restaurants in your area. For me (as well as most of my readers), that area is Pittsburgh, PA:
*Support Black-owned fashion brands. Check out this amazing list that AfroTech put together:
*Support Black art and representation in the media by watching their films and television programs, reading their novels, listening to their podcasts, etc. I found an awesome list curated by Hannah Osharow, creator of Strong Ass Women– a platform dedicated to activism and inclusion. It provides some amazing options to start with-check them out below:
*If you’re struggling with how to educate your child about racism, The New York Times shared a great list of books (for multiple reading ages 0-12+) that could help you initiate this important conversation, and inspire positive, compassionate social & psychological development in your children:
*Additionally, Rachel Elizabeth Cargle recently launched a new literary platform, Elizabeth’s Bookshop & Writing Centre– you can read her mission below:
*LISTEN to your Black friends, family, neighbors, and peers. I’ve compiled some perspectives from various people within the African American community to help share their words and lift their voices:
The fact of the matter is, white people will never be able to fully understand the experiences that Black people have had to live through and endure for generations, so it’s important to let them speak their truth, and LISTEN.
HOW TO SAFELY PREPARE FOR PROTESTS
*I am personally not an experienced protester, but I found these guidelines provided by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to be extremely helpful:
*Additionally, a friend of mine shared these tips from their own personal experiences:
“1. Water makes pepper spray worse. Use milk or liquid antacid and water. Do NOT wear contacts.”
“2. If you get tear gassed, when you get home, put the contaminated clothes in a plastic bag for later decontamination, and shower with cold water to avoid opening your pores.”
“3. Come with friends and don’t get separated. Avoid leaving the crowd and watch out for police snatch squads.”
“4. Beware undercover officers, but beware snitch jacketing and collaborator ‘peace police’ even more.”
“5. The far right is very good at combing through pictures and doxxing people. Mask up.”
“6. Write any necessary phone numbers you may need directly on your skin in Sharpie.”
“7. Have an offsite plan for emergencies if you have not been heard from by X time coordinated with someone offsite.”
“8. Make sure all mobile devices are charged!”
“9. If you plan on going to jail, plan it: bail, lawyer, time off from work, witnesses (i.e. a cadre), etc. Don’t just go to jail without training.”
“10. Beware folks inciting violence. Most of them are police feds. Watch out for hook ups for the same reason. Get to know the crowd. They will set you up.”
*To protect your identity and the identities of fellow protesters, be mindful of taking/posting pictures and videos of yourself and/or others. If you have an iPhone and want a way to do this safely, check out this article:
*If you are a white ally who wants to support racial justice and equality by attending Black-led and People of Color-led protests, please look over these guidelines provided by Showing Up for Racial Justice, and remember that you are a guest in that space:
Some additional protest perspective…
*If you are planning to participate in any protests, please try your best to keep yourself and your fellow protesters- especially your friends in the Black community- SAFE.
HOW TO EDUCATE YOURSELF ON YOUR WHITE PRIVILEGE (YOU HAVE IT WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT)
*If you are a white person- regardless of your financial status, social class, gender, etc.- you have white privilege. It doesn’t mean you’ve had an easy life. It doesn’t devalue any pain that you may have suffered. It means that you haven’t lived with the immense ADDED trauma, pain, and suffering that inevitably affects minorities- most prominently, the Black community. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are an evil Nazi demon either (although if you are some sort of white supremacist, I encourage you to FIND YOUR SOUL AND GET YOUR MIND RIGHT, because I in no way, shape, or form will be condoning that toxicity on this blog, in this country, on this planet, or in ANY universe. No excuses or exceptions).
It’s okay to feel uncomfortable; however, it’s NOT OK to completely dismiss the undeniable, HISTORICAL abuse of an entire race, because of that discomfort.
We must do the work and acknowledge how we have been and/or are part of the problem that is systemic racism, and educate ourselves on how to be a part of the solution.
Since I am aware that this is a sensitive topic to come to terms with, I figured I would share the words of professional therapist, Yolanda Renteria, to help you acknowledge your privilege and re-frame your mind to be open to understanding and listening to the experiences of others- especially people of color.
The following thoughts are mostly centered around white privileged reactions to the civil unrest that has been enveloping the world recently; if any of these apply to you, check your privilege:
*At a time in the midst of a global pandemic and a historical revolution, new information is constant and overflowing- and it’s right in the palm of our hands on our phone screens. This admittedly can get overwhelming, no matter who you are.
HOWEVER, that “social media fatigue” is nowhere near the exhaustion that our Black peers are experiencing. So, keep in mind that having the opportunity to simply log out of Instagram, turn off the TV, delete Twitter and ignore the turmoil our world is experiencing, is a direct example of white privilege.
We must resist the temptation to tune out when life gets difficult, and continue to fight for our Black brothers and sisters who have been fighting their WHOLE LIVES without a break. It is the LEAST we can do.
Filmmaker Rebecca Scolnick explains this perfectly, along with providing resources to educate on white privilege, and donate to the Black Lives Matter movement:
* If you’re a white woman who considers herself to be a feminist, check out Rachel Elizabeth Cargle’s essay in Harper’s Bazaar about how white privilege affects feminism, and what it means to be a true, intersectional feminist ally to ALL women:
*If you want to read further on the subject of white privilege in order to better understand it and learn how to become a genuinely aware and helpful ally, check out Dr. Robin DiAngelo’s book:
*VOTE. Do your research on the representatives for your area and vote for the candidates who support marginalized groups. It is your RIGHT as an American; YOUR VOICE MATTERS- USE IT!!!
*Though white people will never be able to fully understand the struggles of Black people, it is our job to listen to their voices, learn about their experiences, and effect positive change in the world. We must not be silent or “neutral.” We must rebel and fight to create a true “land of the free,” that genuinely provides “liberty and justice for all.”
HOW TO DISCUSS RACISM WITH PEERS & LOVED ONES
*A crucial role of using white privilege to combat racism is to have the difficult conversations with others who benefit from that privilege, which often includes our friends, family, and peers (who may be overtly and/or covertly racist).
This can be an uncomfortable, sensitive issue to approach- especially when emotions are currently even more heightened than usual (and if the person you’re trying to talk to is blatantly racist).
*If you need help initiating these important conversations, check out Sahara Rose’s list of helpful guidelines below:
*Writer and speaker, Jen Winston, shared some useful guidelines as well:
*Furthermore, if you are a white person and ever find yourself getting into an “argument/debate” with other white people about the “value” of Black lives and other communities of color- STOP and ask yourself why either of you think you have the right to determine the WORTH of someone’s LIFE? (Privilege Check: We DON’T).
These conversations about racism aren’t about discussing whether or not Black lives and other People of Color are systemically discriminated against and abused (that is not even a debate, it is a FACT of both our past and present history), but rather, why white people believe that they are entitled to inflict and preserve that oppression, and how to stop it from continuing.
*It’s important to remember that being passively “non-racist” is not enough. We must all be actively ANTI-RACIST in order to protect Black lives and People of Color, and work together to create a more just, equal, and humane world.
MESSAGES OF SOLIDARITY, PRIDE, SUPPORT & LOVE
*As we collectively continue to battle the plagues of a global pandemic and systemic racism, I wanted to take this moment to remind you that you are not alone. I won’t pretend to know exactly how you are feeling, or the specific struggles you may be facing, but I want you to know that I’m here for you.
*In honor of Pride Month- especially this particular June of 2020 when we are in the midst of a crucial human rights revolution- I wanted to acknowledge that Pride first began in 1969 as a protest against police harassment and brutality (known as the “Stonewall Riots”), which was led by a Black trans woman and a Latina trans woman: Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. As most of you already know, the world owes the progress of the LGBTQ+ community and Pride to the bravery of these two inspiring and courageous women. We must continue their legacy in the pursuit for justice and equality.
I hope you take pride in who you are and what you have overcome, and I hope someday we can all live in a world that celebrates diversity, rather than discriminates against it.
No matter your race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, etc., I support you and your human right to live healthy, happy lives.
*If you are in need of resources, information, and/or support within the LGBTQ+ community- or would like to donate- here are a few organizations to check out:
(founded by Adam Lambert)
(founded by Lady Gaga)
*I still have a lot to learn and unlearn. I will always be learning and growing and educating until my least breath, and then some. I just wanted to create a space to help anyone else who is seeking to learn and grow, so that our Black brothers and sisters can rest and don’t have to deal with the additional strain of our lack of knowledge on top of the crushing burden they have been carrying with them for their entire lives, in addition to generations upon generations of epigenetic trauma (look that up. I’m admittedly not educated enough in that science to comfortably relay that information to you. But please– LOOK IT UP).
**Ok, REAL quick before I go- here are some resources to get you started on learning about epigenetics. A few weeks before the pandemic hit and the country/world went into quarantine, I attended a play at Carnegie Mellon University called Memory Habit, directed by Eben Joondeph Hoffer; it was an incredibly poignant, heartbreaking, and informative experience, centered around the effects of epigenetic trauma- a type of trauma that most of us aren’t even aware that we carry with us, passed down from our ancestors. The director included several literature recommendations on the subject in the program, which I have pictured below:
I promise to keep fighting for change and equality.
I promise to continue listening, learning, and educating to the best of my ability.
I promise to never compromise justice for comfort.
And to those of you who remain silent out of fear, denial, or prejudice…remember:
“History Has Its Eyes On You.”
BLACK LIVES MATTER.
YOU MATTER. 🖤