Podcast Host/Politics Writer: Esete Amare
The resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement has been one that we have desperately craved as a nation, and specifically as a black community. As a community that pioneers cultural trends and popular culture, we are underserved, under-appreciated and unsung. Our trends are copied, and our culture appropriated. But the pioneers of this culture, the black people of this country themselves, are left alone to fend for themselves in a country that consumes their culture but denies their individual identity.
This revival of Black Lives Matter felt like a turning point for our nation- for this constant cycle of mass consumption and appropriation. Overall, it felt like Black people were finally getting the attention they deserved. We were witnessing people across our nation coming together for a greater cause despite the looming presence of a deadly pandemic.
Unfortunately, like most trends, we have seen a rapid decrease of the presence of Black Lives Matter in our social media feeds, news channels, and even political discussion. It seems that the nation has moved on from a moment of performative activism and social media posts, while the Black community is left alone, unsurprisingly, to continue this fight against police brutality, systemic racism and oppression. We see our institutions indulge vague social media statements, excessive damage control, and inconsequential actions that do nothing to support black and brown people in this country.
Now we are faced with feelings of burnout coupled with the current dark political climate. It seems like everyday there is a new name on our screens of someone who has either lost their life or come very close as a result of police brutality. At times, we feel like we cannot change the system, like our voices are not enough. We have tirelessly protested, petitioned, donated and there seems like there’s nothing left to do. So, what’s next?
What’s next for Black Lives matter? What’s next for the movement that we have built, and what change can we affect with the momentum we have created? What steps can we take in our daily lives?
Well, start here.
This is a comprehensive list of the dos and don’ts as we move forward from an often tokenized, self-proclaimed activist and black girl .
DO learn about those that have lost their lives to police brutality. It is important to note that while black and brown people lose their lives at a disproportionately high rate, white people are also victims of police brutality. It is essential that we honor the memory of those that have lost their lives, black and white alike, in order to progress the movement.
DO share petition links, informative posts and resources on social media in order to rapidly spread information and keep the movement alive.
DON’T serial repost without doing adequate research on the accuracy and reliability of the sources that you are choosing to share. I find that we (and I have been guilty of this myself) are so absorbed in rapidly re-sharing that we don’t fact check our sources, and check if the information is up to date.
DO take time to focus on your mental health. Activism, while necessary, is beyond exhausting and tolling on your mental health. We have become so accustomed to constantly viewing trauma that we sometimes forget to check in on ourselves. Mental health is important, please take a break, you deserve it.
DO check in on your friends to make sure that they feel loved, and cared for. The current news cycles feel very apocalyptic and hopeless.
DON’T text your local black friend and send an “are we good?” message. Literally, don’t.
DO research and learn about the systems and institutions that oppress and disenfranchise of Black and Brown people in this country.
DO support Black businesses, artists and organizations.
DON’T criticize/scrutinize other people’s ways of activism. We do not possess absolute knowledge on activism and progress, we are all learning. Don’t be rude.
DO register to vote and research candidates in order to select a candidate that supports oppressed and marginalized communities
DO learn about your privilege. We all have some sort of privilege -whether it’s our race, our social class, our education- and we need to learn how to leverage our privilege to push the movement forward.
It is no secret that 2020 has been a tumultuous year. This controversial year has been one of great social change that has allowed us to closely examine the systems and leaders of our country. We are tasked with building a more inclusive country that has historically oppressed groups. As cliche as this is, and as much as it kills me to conform to cliches, we all have the ability to change the world. And we are sure as hell not going to change the world by believing that we can’t.