I imagine that many of you, like me, feel outrage when faced with the reality of yet more killings of Black people by white police officers. If you were on social media, you no doubt saw the videos of the death of George Floyd, heard about the violent murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Arbery, and Tony McDade. We’re seeing images of powerful peaceful protests and despairing at images of community-level violence. You likely also saw the videos of Amy Cooper, a white woman, drawing on a deeply instilled understanding that accusing a Black man of a violent act is a powerful tool in a society that fosters racism. An understanding that white supremacy is a means of maintaining a social, economic, and power status quo.
Maybe, like me, you circled through fear, sadness, outrage, compassion, helplessness, connection, and isolation. As a white, cis-gender woman, I know that when confronted with evidence of structural, institutional, and cultural racism, it is not enough to have feeling — I must take action. And, as Executive Director of Safe Passage, I know that my job includes leading our organization to make visible and dismantle organizational and systemic level racism. This work is essential for the sake of survivors of domestic violence who need and deserve systemic solutions for safety that are accessible to those most marginalized. Because marginalization due to race, class, disability, location, immigration status, and gender identity puts people at greater risk for domestic violence and for a quicker, more serious escalation toward life-threatening violence.
The solutions require all of us and a concerted effort, especially among white people, to do better as community allies. This indeed is our call to action. I’ve seen and heard the direction — “White People Do Something”. Here are some tangible actions that each of us can take:
Ways for Community Allies to Get Involved:
Listen to and elevate voices of color: Follow Black activists and racial justice organizations on social media platforms. Participate in their calls to action. Share and promote their content as experts of their own experience. Make space for marginalized voices to be heard — and listen. Consume (and pay for) Black art and media: books, podcasts, blogs, music, etc.
Donate: Put your resources to work and support antiracism efforts and Black community organizations across the country.
Show Up: Don’t limit your support of racial justice to social media shares. Show up as much as you can — join a protest, provide transport to events and polling stations, vote for legislation that supports marginalized communities, and take action in small everyday ways that others may never see. Be present in the ways that racial justice leaders are asking you to be. And show up every day, not just when it’s trending.
Educate yourself: Dismantling racism is a lifelong journey. If this is new to you, start learning right now and keep at it. Here are a few helpful resources if you want to start learning, challenge yourself, and support Black folks in the US:
Say Something: Hold others (and yourself!) accountable for their racist comments, behavior, and beliefs. Practice skills of assertive communication and boundary setting. Be committed to calling in other white people whenever you can to reduce the burden on Black folks.
Be open to feedback: When you make a mistake, be grateful for the lesson — especially if someone else is holding you accountable. Say thank you, and do better next time, rather than succumbing to shame and defensiveness. Note: It is not the responsibility of Black people to educate others on how to be antiracist or to be compassionate in the face of racism.
Connect with local organizations doing antiracism work: Find organizations in Western Mass that are doing this important work. Reach out, volunteer, donate. Get connected at the local level.
We are experiencing compounding traumas as a community right now, with marginalized people being impacted disproportionately. Some specific self-care and mental health resources for the Black community can be found here and here. We encourage everyone to take respite when and however you are able. Care for yourselves and one another as best you can.