Since the murder of George Floyd, thousands of Americans have taken to the streets to protest institutionalized racism. Many more have taken to social media to express their opinions on recent events, often either in support or dissent of Black Lives Matter.
It may be safe to say that most of us want the same thing. We want to feel safe and accepted in our communities, but when racism is left unchecked many people are unable to experience the security and liberty of a peaceful locality. This very article is the culmination of not one writer, but of a group of people concerned for the well-being of communities not just in the United States, but across the world. It is not a complete perspective on a crucial topic and it is far from the ultimate answer, but it is intended as a step towards making the voice of our staff heard in the raging dialogue which has taken the country, the world and has brought thousands to the streets in protest. Times are tense. Social media is aflame with conflicting ideas and conflicting information, and we will make no progress while we remain divided. An important take-away from this discussion is to respect one another as individuals regardless of their identity, to be willing to have the hard discussions, and to be aware of biases and open to new ideas regardless of the stance you’ve taken until this point.
But change is not impossible. It starts with awareness, which we’ve seen in the past few weeks. The next step is action.
It's imperative to educate yourself on issues of racism and inequality and recognize how far back this systematic oppression goes. Part of creating change is being able to have dialogue with people who have a different view or engage in meaningful conversation. It is difficult to do so if you do not have credible information to back up your arguments. Being well informed is imperative when arguing for a cause. Educate yourself, learn, and use that knowledge peacefully. The following is a list of books, podcasts, and classes recommended by The Torch staff.
-I Write What I Like - Steve Biko
-Long Walk to Freedom - Nelson Mandela
-Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century- Dorothy Roberts
-The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and Making of Modern Urban America - Khalil Gibran Muhammad
-Code of the Street: Decency, Violence and the Moral Life of the Inner City - Elijah Anderson
-White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism - Robin DiAngelo
-Good Talk - Mira Jacob
Additionally, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, and Toni Morrison have several books that address this topic.
-1619 - New York Times
-“The Mayor of Minneapolis” - The Daily, The New York Times
-“Anti-Racism using Love and Grace with Dom Roberts” - MOOD with Lauren Elizabeth
-“Doing Your Part” - Schnitt Talk
-Code Switch - NPR
-“When Police Brutality Meets Office Politics” - The Journal
-“How can District Attorneys help fight police brutality? With DA Rachael Rollins” - Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness
-The Diversity Gap - Bethaney Wilkinson
-Intersectionality Matters! - Kimberlé Crenshaw
Enroll in Classes:
As college students, we are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take classes. If you are in the need of some elective classes, or have room in your schedule, VU offers a variety of classes that center around the topics of race, inequalities, and Justice. The list changes every semester, but here are some that are being offered for Fall 2020:
-SOC275: Inequality in America
-COMM-490: Gender, Race and Class in Media
-SOCW-260: Human Rights and Justice
Sign Petitions and Donate if you can
There are many petitions circling around social media that call for action to be taken. They are free to sign and only require you to give your name and hometown. Here you can find a list of petitions which are updated every 5 minutes. If you have the monetary means, you can also find a number of organizations to donate to on that list. Gamma Phi Beta recently organized a fundraiser on behalf of Fraternity and Sorority Life for the Chicago Freedom School. You can find the link to donate here.
If you are unable to donate, the following is a list of Youtube videos you can watch to donate without physically drawing from your bank account. Just sit through the ads and leave it playing when you can. See the description sections for information on organizations they will be donating to through ad revenue.
Engage in community activism
-Vote! Participating in government at multiple levels--state, local, national--is a good way to make a difference in your community. According to fairvote.org, recent years have seen that “about 60% of the voting eligible population votes during presidential election years, and about 40% votes during midterm elections.” If you don’t already participate in these elections, attending them is a good way to make sure your voice is heard going forward.
-Call your representatives to advocate for social justice reform.
-Find local places that could use donations. Is there a group who is consistently organizing peaceful protests? Is a food pantry running low on supplies for kids who are out of school? What about the women’s shelter? Think about what your community needs.
-If you’re protesting, it’s important to know your rights. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) created a Twitter thread to keep you informed.
Our role in this movement is to listen, support and protect. We have to stop asking Black friends to educate us. It’s past time to take that burden from the Black community and assume responsibility. Educate your parents. Educate your siblings. Educate your friends. Educate yourself.