One thing I hope many people understand is that it’s not only what you say, it’s also how you say it. Many articles and headlines talk about “recent protests” and “in light of riots” but there is nothing about these riots that are either recent nor are they the source of the issues. It’s in light of hundreds of years of black oppression for the purpose of white suppression, the protests are a byproduct, yet people talk about them like it’s the issue.

But also, it’s a matter of when you say something, as we now see on social media platforms. Everyone who works in media, from journalists to influencers, is eager to focus on the protests, and they have halted much production of anything else. It’s clear to see those who do it not because of any solidarity toward the cause, but because of how it might look, their “image”. Although their show was paused on #blackouttuesday, ultimately, their show does go on. 

@cada_consult

There have been videos released about white women posing as though they were helping working men or part of the aggressive rioting. But these women are not the only ones putting on a show, the next day, others on social media went back to the same scheduled posting they did before, and even the whole creation of the black out initiative–although well intentioned–was highly criticized in execution. While nothing is perfect, it’s important to know when the good intentioned becomes another money grab for media attention and affirmation. If you’re wondering “but then when will things go back to normal?” you are clearly missing the point. 

This should not be a show. These are people’s lives. Reaching likes on social media should not be the only reason to show support and the conversation should extend to active steps. Educate, not only yourself but others who say ignorant comments and breed micro-aggression, vote–know what to vote for as well as for whom to vote. 

While encompassing a large part of history, Black Americans often have to self-educate themselves more on their own history while every student is taught about the triumphs of white history–globally. Black history is an important part of how societies like America came to be, regardless of whether it is presented in textbooks for students in the future. The fear of facing our historic mistakes are what seems to have stunted any growth in progress for civil rights. Every time there is an uprising, if true change is not achieved, the same cycle will repeat.

Our social spheres are littered with facades that reach more than just people’s eyes. There are companies dedicated to promoting their product and give consumers unattainable ideals of how to be. There are many who are promoting books they have not read, movies they have not seen, products they have never sampled, and ideals they don’t believe in. There are companies hired to push these products and dance around the trusting relationship writers and journalists have with the public. I hope the rise in the BLM movement starts to break that as more people get called out. I hope everyone ingests the ideas that so many people’s lives depend on. I hope the right, honest voices are disseminated educating those that haven’t fully grasped it. Let this branch extend beyond this week, this month, and this year. 

Overall, there are simple things to do beyond a post. While we do encourage this, any awareness with good intentions is important, here are ways to make sure it’s not a hollow stance:

1. Call Elected Officials This includes both at the federal, state, and local level. There’s no use in wanting your voice to be heard if it’s not heard by the right people that have the ability to make a systemic change. Also make sure they see you if you can: stand with the protester.

3. Donate to causes Many places need your money in order to function and many nonprofits rely solely on donations. Donate to your local Black Lives Matter chapter, bail bonds for protestors, or contribute to any of the other organizations pledging to make a change.

5. Watch the movies I know you have a million streaming services and they all have amazing movies and documentaries. 13th and Dear White People on Netflix are great. Also If Beale Street Could Talk is on Hulu. You have options.

2. Vote Obviously. Make sure you’re registered. And if you want more of a say in who you’re voting for, make sure you’re not independent. Otherwise you can’t vote in primaries for your favorite candidate and get stuck with two people you don’t like. It’s simple. Also with the coronavirus freaking everyone out, rightfully so, make sure you’re registered for mail-in ballots.

4. Read the books Regardless of the problems within the media, these books are important and the only way for anyone to educate themselves consistently is to listen to different voices. Some of my favorite authors are Roxane Gay, Ta Nehisi Coates, James Baldwin, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Toni Morrison.

1. Call Elected Officials This includes both at the federal, state, and local level. There’s no use in wanting your voice to be heard if it’s not heard by the right people that have the ability to make a systemic change. Also make sure they see you if you can: stand with the protester.

2. Vote Obviously. Make sure you’re registered. And if you want more of a say in who you’re voting for, make sure you’re not independent. Otherwise you can’t vote in primaries for your favorite candidate and get stuck with two people you don’t like. It’s simple. Also with the coronavirus freaking everyone out, rightfully so, make sure you’re registered for mail-in ballots.

3. Donate to causes Many places need your money in order to function and many nonprofits rely solely on donations. Donate to your local Black Lives Matter chapter, bail bonds for protestors, or contribute to any of the other organizations pledging to make a change.

4. Read the books Regardless of the problems within the media, these books are important and the only way for anyone to educate themselves consistently is to listen to different voices. Some of my favorite authors are Roxane Gay, Ta Nehisi Coates, James Baldwin, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Toni Morrison.

5. Watch the movies I know you have a million streaming services and they all have amazing movies and documentaries. 13th and Dear White People on Netflix are great. Also If Beale Street Could Talk is on Hulu. You have options.

These actions are not immense. They do not require anyone to sacrifice anything but a bit of time. But the repercussions could cost a black person their life. Like George Floyd. Like Breonna Taylor. Like Ahmaud Arbery. Like Eric Garner. Like Philando Castile. Like Alton Sterling. Like Delrawn Small. Like Dominique Clayton. Like Eric Reason. Like Atatiana Jefferson. Like Botham Jean. Like Bettie Jones. Like Walter Scott. Like Natasha McKenna. Like Tamir Rice. Like Tanisha Anderson. Like Ezell Ford. Like Trayvon Martin. And many more that are left unknown.