Getting involved in the Black Lives Matter Movement has been on the forefront of many individuals’ minds since the killing of George Floyd on May 25.
As people of all races have united in the stand against racism and police brutality, the responsibility to end racism and support equality is rising in America.
There are many ways to become more educated about the Black community, as well as other communities of color. Increasing knowledge is extremely important, and can include activities such as having a conversation with a friend or family member, signing petitions and donating, retweeting or reposting content on social media, amplifying Black voices and watching or reading historical content regarding race and systematic injustice.
Although these acts of awareness may appear minor at times, they can open the eyes of many individuals.
Talking to friends and family
Talking to friends and family about racism in America can be difficult, especially with those who do not personally experience it. Ijeoma Oluo, author of “So You Want to Talk About Race,” suggested many ways to discuss race with friends and family in a recent interview with NPR.
“I think it’s really important to start first from a place of your own ignorance that you once had … I always advise people to think about what brought them to the point where they realize it mattered, and to share that story,” said Oluo to NPR’s Life Kit.
When spreading awareness, it is important to remain calm and safe. Instead of attacking others, confront and question their views.
While initiating these conversations can be difficult, using your voice to speak against injustice is more important now than ever.
Signing petitions and donating
A simple way to aid in the Black Lives Matter Movement is to sign petitions.
While there are many petitions related to the movement, many can be found on change.org, as well as through the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF). Furthermore, many on social media have condensed these petitions into easily accessible websites, linking you directly to which petitions could use your assistance.
Donating funds or resources can also serve as a way to aid the movement. When donating, be wary of the recipient, as sites like change.org can retain funds, rather than dispersing them to the creator of the petition.
The Black Lives Matter Global Network has created petitions, one of which calls to defund and reform the police system. Black Scranton Project and Action Together NEPA, two prominent non-profit organizations in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area, have been collecting donations and organizing protests in our area through social media.
Watching and reading
Educating oneself on injustice is often the first step of getting involved in any movement. Films and literature regarding race, police brutality and systematic injustice are excellent resources for information, both from a contemporary and historical standpoint.
“13TH,” a documentary detailing race and the criminal justice system, has landed on the must-watch list of many during this time. Oluo’s “So You Want to Talk About Race” is also on numerous educational lists.
YouTube channels are hosting 24/7 live streams and uploading hour-long videos centered around the movement, such as streaming Black music artists. These videos are supported by advertisements, which pay the uploader or host to be featured to viewers. The revenue gained from these videos is then donated to Black Lives Matter groups.
Black Lives Matter protests have reached the Wyoming Valley, including Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. These protests remain peaceful, and are held weekly (sometimes, more frequently than that). Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square, only a short walk from campus, is a popular place for protests where many have created signs to attract exposure.
If an individual chooses to attend a protest, he or she should be mindful of COVID-19 by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
If you cannot show up in person to these protests, there are still ways to let your voice and presence be heard and seen. Many organizations, both local and national, have stepped up to declare their support for Black lives and to call for justice on behalf of the Black lives lost, especially those at the hands of police brutality.
Information on when and where protests are being held can be found on social media, as well as other online spaces. While these events are commonly reposted by many, Facebook groups serve as a means of finding information in one space.
The Facebook group “Black Lives Matter Wilkes-Barre” provides information regarding the status of the movement in our local community.
Due to the amount of disinformation being spread during this time, someone may have been improperly informed or unaware about certain topics pertaining to the Black Lives Matter Movement.
“Black Lives Matter is a central target of disinformation … You are a key line of defense,” blacklivesmatter.com, a resource for the movement, states.
In order to quell racism and bigotry in today’s society, Americans must stand together. Even an ounce of your support, put together with the outpouring of voices demanding for justice and equality, can create a driving force that has the ability to change the world.