The last week has surely been a difficult one. Between Delrawn Small, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, it is impossible to ignore that there is a genocide happening right before our eyes, and it is traumatizing. I, personally, found it difficult to get up and go about my day following this most recent spate of police violence, but it’s even worse for our black sisters and brothers. They are living in a state of real trauma every day. This week, I saw a co-worker break down and cry because she just can’t take it anymore. She was sad, but the emotion that overwhelmed her was anger, because history keeps repeating itself. Another co-worker commented that she is terribly afraid every time her nephews, brothers, and cousins leave the house, not knowing when they will come back. Yet another colleague noted that it isn’t just black men who are being killed; it’s black women too. “It could be you and me,” she said in conversation with one woman who feared for the black men in her life. The sadness they all feel, the fear, the agitation was palpable this week. And it wasn’t just this week for them. This is what they live every day. It was just heightened and brought into our space in the office this week because of the publicity of the most recent incidents.
Here on Depth and Candor, we all aim to live vibrant lives, but how can we do that when we have to fear for loved ones or when our loved ones live in fear? How can we achieve a vibrant life while mired in the injustices of a society that won’t allow us all the opportunity to pursue life, much less a vibrant life? Sitting with that question, it became clear that a critical part of a vibrant life is fighting for justice. In pursuit of our most vibrant life, there are three things we can do to fuel the fight against police violence now. I like to call it the immediate response ADE: activate, donate, educate. Here is how you can “ADE” the movement against police violence today:
I use the word “activate,” because it broadly covers a range of things we can do immediately to take on police violence. First, you can identify local activist groups rallying for changes to our criminal justice system (better those seeking to break the unjust system and build something new), and join them in their work. There are local Black Lives Matter chapters that you can follow as well as local groups that you can identify with a simple Google search. The Ferguson National Response Network is also a great resource for identifying actions near you. Here in New York, a group called NYC Shut It Down protests every Monday to uplift the names of individuals whose lives were lost to police violence. Their events can be found on NYC Shut It Down: The Grand Central Crew’s Facebook page. I encourage you to participate in protests. Actions raise awareness of the issue and applies pressure on the system to create change. Protest is a tried and true step in the fight for social justice.
Another way to activate is to contact local representatives and pressure them to address police violence. Write letters to your mayor’s office and attend city council and town hall meetings to let officials know that you demand changes to police training and procedures. Share with officials your ideas for how we can change things now. Organize within your communities to create change.
Finally, sign a petition. Change.org hosts a multitude of petitions addressing police violence. Search petitions and sign those that you can support.
Truly, one of the best ways you can support the fight against police violence is to support the activists who are doing this work every day. Your donations support the work of organizing and advocating for change. Here, I encourage you to simply find an organization you can support and make a donation. Some organizations take monthly sponsorships, while others have crowdfunding campaigns on gofundme.com and other crowdfunding platforms. Often, protesters are arrested and need legal support. Donating to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the ACLU can assist in their defense. Find a group you can support and simply give what you can. It will go a long way toward the fight for justice.
To begin, here is a crowdfunding campaign for Alton Sterling’s children: #AltonSterlingFamily Scholarship.
Finally, and probably most important, is to educate. By educating yourself and others about the atrocities of police violence, how racist our system is and how we can change it, you are breathing life into the movement. Get to know the issue on a deep level. Share your knowledge with your people. Then, start inviting people to join you in the work. The deeper your understanding, the more effective you will be in this work. Here is some material to get you started:
Quick Stats: Mapping Police Violence
A brief history: History of Racist Policing
A few facts about police violence: EF: 5 Infuriating Facts About Police Violence
The sobering truth: Why Police Violence Will Never End
This is just scratching the surface. I encourage you to do your own research and dig deeper.
Finally, please adhere to the following caveats in the charge to educate:
Abstain from sharing videos of police violence. No one needs to see these traumatic images to believe the issue is real.
Do not ask black family and friends to educate you or other people. It is not the burden of our black sisters and brothers to educate us. We can do the work. The information is out there.
Listen. In educating ourselves, it’s really important to know when to cede the floor. When our black brothers and sisters are speaking, simply listen and learn.
At the end of this tragic week, it’s truly difficult to imagine living a vibrant life in the midst of all of this injustice. The good news is that we don’t have to accept the injustice; it doesn’t have to be a fact in our shared future. In pursuing our most vibrant lives, we all must commit to fighting for justice. The best work we do will surely be our contributions toward the world we want to live in. If we as a community all commit to “ADE” in the fight against police violence, we will certainly make our future a little more vibrant.