Are Front Line Activists The Only Ones Making Change?

For the past week or so I’ve been at a loss of words. And as a writer, that’s something to be worried about. When something that usually comes so natural for you (and is often used as a means of coping with stressful situations) becomes impossible, it’s especially unnerving.

The racism Black people in America are facing right now isn’t really nothing new. We have been facing inequality for as long as we were enslaved and brought over here. But what has changed is that, not only is it being recorded… It’s being widely distributed.

See the reason there’s so much unrest is not that we are just now “seeing” what is going on… because we’ve been getting some “really good” (and I say that really good with all the irony I can muster) visual coverage of police brutality since the 1990s.

Remember Brother Rodney King…

No, the reason the response to police brutality and the killing of Black people is creating such a primal reaction is that other people are also seeing it. Isn’t it funny how doing something in the light, as opposed to the dark, seclusion of little ol’ USA, starts to change things? It’s like America’s dirty little secret that everyone is now able to see in real-time.

Thanks social media! See, you really are good for something.

A few days ago everything became a bit too much to handle. The reality of racism was overpowering everything and making everyday functioning (work, family, friends, etc.) extremely difficult. So, for the past few days, I’ve been taking care of myself mentally and emotionally. Leaning deep into my self-care practices (yoga, reading, cooking, etc.) and modifying my social media intake.

And here we are. Well… I should say, here I am.

On the other side of overwhelming and still incredibly sad and hurting, and tired… but with a clearer mind and better handle on my mental health.

It will tell you when you need rest. And by rest, I mean a moment to disconnect from the world and recharge your self. To “fill up your cup” as they say… so that you can pour back into your life and those who are in it without being depleted.
Don’t be stubborn and hardheaded. LISTEN.

So, on the other side of chaos I began to think about how to bring about change. I think it’s wonderful that there are folks out there marching and protesting to bring awareness and concern. Hell, there are ACTUALLY people out there that had no idea this was even “a thing”…

*insert extremely deep sigh*

Well, I’m not a protestor. I’m not a marcher. And I’m not a political organizer. I know these things about myself. It’s just not my personality. But what I am is focused, driven, and always in search of helping others. So I began to consider what I could do. How I could not only add to the conversation but create some change? And I came up with a few things.

Buy Black.

The Black dollar is one of the most powerful things we own. In a world that constantly takes from Black people, the one thing they can’t (and probably don’t really want to) is our buying power.

Black people spend money. Lots of it. And it usually goes to big corporations or to communities with people that don’t look us. Neither of which benefit the Black community.

Start with finding a Black vendor for some of your big ticket items and see how easy it is to show support. I have always passively bought products and services from Black people, but (I’m reluctantly admit) it’s only been recently that I’ve been an active customer. Instead of happening upon something dope from an African American, I’ve been searching and seeking them out.

Can you imagine what life would be like if Black people began taking money out of the hands of other communities and began cycling it in their own?

Promote Black Art.

Black people are talented.

I know. I know. You probably already knew that. But get this, there are actually a lot of folks who don’t. They may know a handful of actors, musicians, and dancers who are melanated, but that’s about it. And they think those few bodies are anomalies.

So, yes. Promote the beautiful writers, directors, singers, and artists you know. Show the world how DOPE they are. Show the world that our community is filled with these gems. Show the world that we are not a monolithic group and that there’s more than just different shades to distinguish us.

Racism is rooted in ignorance. Sure, there’s a couple of other factors in there, but mostly it starts from simply not knowing. Just having exposure and experience with the Black community is enough for some to realize their ways and change. And at the very least, it opens up the floor for a conversation about who Black people really are… And how complex that question is.

Be an Advocate.

This last one’s a little bit tougher. And for good reason.

An advocate is someone who supports and promotes a particular interest or cause. There are three types of advocacy…

  • Self-advocacy: An person’s ability to effectively communicate and assert their own interests, desires, needs, and rights.
  • Individual advocacy: Concentrated effort is placed on the needs and interests of just one individual.
  • Systems advocacy: Changing policies, laws, or rules that impact how someone or group of people live and receive their needs and interests.

So which advocate am I saying will help combat racism towards Black people? Well, if you’re a person of African decent, I’m saying to be all three.

And that’s really all I can say about that, because this step can literarly be anything. The police and justice system aren’t the only areas that are polluted with racists… They’re also our nurses, doctors, educators, banking officials…

Yes. They’re everywhere.

Not only is this idea of racism not a new one, it’s also not in one concentrated area. These roots of oppression and prejudice are deep babe. DEEP. And, vast. So our attack (*approach) needs to be equally varied and widespreed. You can do your part by speaking up about equity everywhere from your place of work to your place of worship. You can be a voice for the unheard if you’re the only person of color at the table.

You Matter. And you are powerful. Never forget that.

For more info, start here.

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