Google whether your local police department currently outfits all on-duty police officers with a body-worn camera and requires that the body-worn camera be turned on immediately when officers respond to a police call. If they don’t, write to your city or town government representative and police chief to advocate for it. The racial make-up of your town doesn’t matter — This needs to be standard everywhere. Multiply your voice by soliciting others to advocate as well, writing on social media about it, writing op-eds, etc.
Google whether your city or town currently employs evidence-based police de-escalation trainings. The racial make-up of your town doesn’t matter — This needs to be standard everywhere. Write to your city or town government representative and police chief and advocate for it. Multiply your voice by soliciting others to advocate as well, writing on social media about it, writing op-eds, etc.
More and more stories of black folks encountering racism are being documented and shared through social media — whether it’s at a hotel, with the police, in a coffee shop, at a school, etc. When you see such a post, call the organization, company, or institution involved to tell them how upset you are. Then share the post along with the institution’s contact information, spreading the word about what happened and encouraging others to contact the institution as well. Whether the company initiated the event or failed to protect a POC during an onslaught by a third party, they need to hear from us.
If you or a friend is an educator, buy said friend books that feature POC as protagonists and heroes, no matter the racial make-up of the class. A few good lists are here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. And/or purchase educational toys that feature POC, such as finger puppets, Black History Flashcards, etc for their classroom. Use these items year-round, not just in February. The racial make-up of students doesn’t matter — kids of every race need to know American history and be exposed to people from different races, religions, and countries. If the friend is interested, buy them for your pal’s classroom. Don’t be shy to ask Facebook friends that you haven’t actually talked to in ten years.
If you or a friend or family member is an educator, watch or share this video of Neil deGrasse Tyson speaking about his experience as a black student telling people he wanted to be a scientist and astrophysicist. Tyson’s experience reminds me of a black friend whose high school teachers tried to dissuade her from taking AP classes, because, with the best of intentions, they thought the AP classes would be “too much” for her. Be an educator who supports and encourages, not one who dissuades. Talk to educators you know about being educators who support and encourage, not educators who dissuade.
Work on ensuring that black educators are hired where black children are being taught. If you want to know more about why and how this makes a difference for black children, check out this episode of Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast. There are some really good nuggets in there about how schools can support the achievement of black students — from ensuring black students aren’t closed out of gifted programs by using test results instead of white teachers’ recommendations to the influence that having a black teacher has on a black student’s education to the importance to fostering a school ethos wherein black students think, “This school is here for me.”
Many companies have recruiting channels that are predominantly white. Work with your HR department to recruit Americans who are descendants of slaves. Recruiting from HBCUs is a good start. Work to put descendants of slaves already hired under supportive managers.
Bank black. It doesn’t have to be all of your checking or savings. Opening up an account with some money is better than no account at all. You can use the link from #9 (type “banking” in the Category field) or this site to find a bank. At the very least, move some or all of your checking, savings, mortgage, etc out of Wells Fargo as a part of the divestment movement to protect Standing Rock.
Don’t buy from companies that use prison labor. Find a good list here.
Read up about mandatory minimum sentences and watch videos about this on Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM’s) website. FAMM’s website includes work being done at the federal level and state level. Call or write to your state legislators and governor about reducing mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug crimes.
To reduce mandatory minimum sentences on a federal level, call or write to your federal legislators in support of the bipartisan (sponsored by Sen Lee (R-UT)) Smarter Sentencing Act (S. 2850) which reduces the length of federal mandatory minimum drug sentences by half, makes the Fair Sentencing Act’s crack sentencing reforms retroactive, and expands the “safety valve” exception to mandatory drug sentences.
To reduce mandatory minimum sentences on a federal level, call or write to your federal legislators in support of the bipartisan (sponsored by Sen Rand (R-KY)) Justice Safety Valve Act (S. 399, H.R. 1097), which would allow judges to give sentences other than the mandatory minimum sentence for any federal crime.
To reduce mandatory minimum sentences on a federal level, call or write your federal legislators in support of another great criminal justice reform bill, the Second Look Act, which would make reduced sentences for crack convictions from the previously passed Fair Sentencing Act retroactive, reduce mandatory minimums for people convicted more than three times for drug crimes from life without parole after the third offense to 25 years, reduce mandatory sentences for drug crimes from 15 to 10 years, limit the use of solitary confinement on juvenile prisoners, etc.
Call or write to your state legislators and governor to support state-wide criminal justice reform including reducing mandatory minimum sentences, reducing sentences for non-violent drug crimes, passing “safety valve” law to allow judges to depart below a mandatory minimum sentence under certain conditions, passing alternatives to incarceration, etc. Study after study shows that racism fuels racial disparities in imprisonment, and most of the US prison population are at the state and local level.
Watch 13th. Better yet, get a group of friends together and watch 13th.
Watch The House I Live In. Or get a group of friends together and watch it.
Read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. Better yet, get a group of friends together to read it like a book club would — read, then discuss.
Read Caught by Marie Gottschalk. Better yet, get a group of friends together to read it like a book club would — read, then discuss.
Read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Yep, get a group of friends together to read it like a book club would — read, then discuss.
Read Orange is the New Black. The information the author shares about the ease with which one can be charged with “conspiracy” to sell drugs, the damage done from long sentences that don’t fit the crime due to mandatory minimum sentencing, the ever-present threat of solitary confinement at a Correction Officer’s whim, and other specific harmful practices in the prison system are well done. Get a group of friends together to read it like a book club would — read, then discuss.
Read The Color of Law. Get your friends on board reading it, too.
Especially if you or a friend is an educator, read or share bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress.
Buy books, choose TV shows and movies, and opt for toys for your kids, nieces, nephews, etc that show people from different races, religions, countries and that teach real American history. A few ideas: the books, toys, and flashcards from #4.
Arrange for cultural exchanges and cultural ambassadors in your local school’s classrooms. The International Classroom program at UPenn and People to People International are options. The Dept of Education has a good list. Cultural exchanges via the interwebs are very valuable. Actual human interaction between people from different races, religions, and countries (ie: cultural ambassadors) and students in the physical classroom is ideal.
Seek out a diverse group of friends for your kids.
Seek out a diverse group of friends for you. Practice real friendship and intimacy by listening when POC talk about their experiences and their perspectives. They’re speaking about their pain.
Watch these videos to hear first hand accounts of what our black brothers and sisters live. Then read everyday people’s experiences through the hashtag #realizediwasblack. Share with others.
Got close friends and/or family who are black? Contribute to their kids’ college savings.
Call or write to your national legislators, state legislators, and governor in favor of affirmative action. Encourage friends to do the same.
Write to your college/university about implementing all or some of these diversity strategies that effectively promote racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity on campus. Write to the public universities your tax payer dollars support about implementing these diversity strategies.
Write to the US Sentencing Commission (PubAffairs@ussc.gov) and ask them to: — reform the career offender guideline to lessen the length of sentences — change the guidelines so that more people get probation — change the criminal history guidelines so that a person’s criminal record counts against them less — change guidelines to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes — conduct a study to review the impact of parental incarceration on minor children. With more data, the Commission could modify the Sentencing Guidelines and allow judges to take this factor into account when sentencing individuals for non-violent crimes. — conduct a study to review whether the Bureau of Prisons is following the Commission’s encouragement to file a motion for compassionate release whenever “extraordinary and compelling reasons” exist. — consider amending the guidelines to reduce sentences for first offenders.
Read Van Jones’ short and to-the-point article about the racial biases of reporters. More examples are here. Check out this article discussing how media coverage of the opioid epidemic — which largely affects suburban and rural whites — portrays it as an outside threat and focuses on treatment and recovery, while stories of heroin in the 1970s, crack-cocaine in the 1980s, and other drug problems that impact urban people of color today have focused on the drug user’s morality. Keep an eye out for such biases, and use social media and direct communication to the media outlet to call them out when they occur.
Know our American history. Watch Roots, 12 Years a Slave, Mississippi Burning, and Selma, to name a few.
Check out black movies, TV, and other media that show POC as lead characters and in their full humanity. Queen Sugar, Insecure, Dear White People, The Carmichael Show, Blackish, Grownish, Atlanta, 2 Dope Queens, Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, Get Out, Girls Trip, Mudbound, How to Get Away with Murder, Scandal, The Cloverfield Paradox, Sorry to Bother You, Blindspotting, BlacKkKlansman, Little, If Beale Street Could Talk, and Queen ans Slim are a few. Share them with friends. In addition, if you can’t watch the whole video, watch 13:12 to 15:17 of this discussion about working in Hollywood when you’re not white.
Know what indigenous land you’re living on by looking that this map and research the groups that occupied that land before you did. Find out what local activism those groups are doing and give your money and time to those efforts.
Be honest about our history. One genocide, another genocide, then apartheid. It sucks, but it’s true. We’ll never be free from our history unless we’re honest about it. Denial is our pathology, but the truth will set us free.
If you have a close relationship with a young person of color, make sure he/she knows how much you love them. Love and affirm that child.
Write to your city or town government representative to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day like these cities did.
Personally divest your investments in private prisons and detention centers. Start here. Many people are divesting from Wells Fargo for their substantial role in Standing Rock and from private prison companies Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), GEO Group, CoreCivic, and G4S.
Read this article about an overt white supremacist’s son’s journey to relinquish white supremacy and watch this video about Daryl Davis, a black man who gets KKK members to disavow by befriending them. For those you know who are overtly racist (see #45), think about ways you can create exposure for them to people who don’t look like them, share their religion, etc. Jane Elliott says, “People who are racist aren’t stupid, they’re ignorant. And the answer to ignorance is education.” Frederick Douglass notes, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” It may be best to focus on children, adolescents, and young adults currently being raised by overtly racist parents. Maybe it’s tutoring them so they could get on a college track, encouraging them to study abroad, or turning them on to colleges where not everyone looks like them and shares their religion, etc. Maybe it’s spending time with them on some regularity and showing them the achievements and beauty of non-white cultures. Be creative.
Talk to the white people you know who aren’t clearly upset by white supremacy. Use “I” statements and “I care” messages (“I feel [feeling] when you [behavior]”). They need to know you see a problem. Call them out, and call them in. As a start, ask them to watch the videos in #40. For people you know who’ve been radicalized by FOX News and other nationalist (not conservative) media, who’ve been so pummeled with fear and hatred of “the other” that they’ve become ISIS-like towards others, how can you and other family and friends guide them through conversation to show them that their actions are now in direct contrast with the values they feign to purport?
As a nod to #63, don’t become the monster, as you try to kill the monster. As Gloria Steinem says, “The ends don’t justify the means. The means are the ends.”
MARSE: A Psychological Portrait Of The Southern Slavemaster And His Legacy Of White Supremacy - By: H.D. Kirkpatrick (Prometheus Books, 2022) This is an amazing book! It brings in a whole new layer (or way of explaining it) into understanding racism - especially for white people - and even more so for white men. It is scary reading! It is a “good” kind of scary! It helps me open up my heart - more and more to ponder the intersections of the power of elites. It shows how they play off the “little people” - against each other. It shows how, by our essential relative silence, we (,who think we are “better” than those “other “ white people,) acquiesce to their power. The book until its concluding chapter focuses historically on the Racist and horrifically pathological, criminal nature of slavery. It shows how relatively few major slaveowners deeply impacted the U.S. and the other major world powers. It paints a picture of “normalcy” that is highly disturbing
RAISE A FIST , TAKE A KNEE : Race and the Illusion of Progress in Modern Sports – by: John Feinstein - is a Must Read – for anyone interested in men and sports. It is also an excellent read for others! If anyone has any doubts – about this book – watch a video about it – one – interview by Judy Woodruff from the PBS News Hour (9:11) – one example -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gT-Ldoag-YU . Quote: Jones ended up making two Olympic teams – the 2008 team and the 2012 team that went to London. He had become the first African American to hold a world record in 2007 (note: men’s swimming) … (p.302) The night after George Floyd’s murder, Jones took his dog out for an evening walk. He was staying at his brother’s house in Charlotte, North Carolina, because he and his wife were building their own house nearby. “I’d gone about a block when a police car went past me,” he said. “All of a sudden, the car screeched to a stop. The cop made a U-turn and came back to where I
It was a crowd of primarily Black spectators that first brought my racial being to consciousness. I will never forget the pointing, laughter, and yells: “Look at the white girl!” As a sophomore in high school in the mid-1980s, I was the different one for the first time, the minority within a group. Eight Black girls and I competed to go to the California State track meet in the 400-meter race. (xi) So begins the Introduction of a most interesting book, Shelly Tochluk’s: Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk About Race and How to Do It . (Edition three is scheduled to come out in August, 2022, two months from now.) Tochluk is very direct, often with personal examples of the importance of white people focusing upon their own complicity in racism, and their need to proactively learn and become as active as possible at dismantling structural racism. She talks clearly of how we live in multicultural settings, yet understand so little of the daily experiences of BIPOC. The author f
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