Although centuries overdue, it appears that change is finally on the horizon for the Black community. The tragic murder of George Floyd has catalyzed movements around the world, urging people to recognize and dismantle the systemic anti-Black racism our society is plagued with.
We must acknowledge and destroy all forms of bigotry, not just the overt hatred that leads to unjust murders, but the ease and frequency of which non-Black people appropriate, marginalize, and silence Black voices.
Racism, and it’s more covert counterparts, bias and prejudice, have been ignored for far too long, and the time for eradication is upon us. This is a human rights issue that requires contributions of all sizes, from all communities, in order to be tackled.
Anyone and everyone can get involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, and here are 7 steps for allyship – brought to you via examples set by your favourite artists.
CHECKING YOUR PRIVILEGE
This internal step is the foundation for all other outward acts of change. If you’re not Black, understand the privilege your skin has awarded you, and learn about the traumatic experiences and fears you’ve never had to endure because of your status as a non-Black person. How have you (unknowingly) benefited from Black communities and culture, and what can you do to amend that? This is not a revolutionary act, but it is a necessary one because accountability is so important.
If you are a Black cisgender person, you can still learn about the disproportionate rates of violence and murder inflicted on Black transgender folk, and educate yourself on how to become a better ally to the queer BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) community.
ENGAGING IN PEACEFUL PROTESTS
Peaceful protesting has been a staple in mobilizing movements throughout history, and if you’re able to, show up. If you’re white or white-passing, protect your Black peers. Stay in groups, be safe, and make your voices heard. If you’re protesting in the weeks to follow, continue to practice social distancing when possible and try to acquire personal protective equipment.
If you have the means, money can be used to support families of victims (including funeral funds, education trusts, legal aid, etc.), protesters (equipping them with resources and bail money), Black-owned businesses, and Black organizations and political leaders.
No money? No problem. You can stream monetized videos that donate the AdSense to these causes. If you’re a business owner, consider designating a commission of profits to charitable groups.
RAISING AWARENESS ON YOUR PLATFORM(S)
Read, comprehend and disperse any resources about systemic racism, inequality and barriers to access. Offer your followers and peers a variety of mediums (i.e., books, articles, personal essays, podcasts, movies) that cover these topics.
Share links to petitions, campaigns, and donation funds (the more eyes that see them, the better the potential results).
DISRUPTING THE POLITICAL SYSTEM
Systemic racism cannot be erased when the current system protects and uplifts corrupt authorities. Effective ways to create sustainable change include: registering to vote, signing petitions, learning about your political leaders’ stances and electing more progressive candidates.
AMPLIFYING BLACK VOICES
Share your (digital) space, or collaborate with Black creators, activists or educators. Help facilitate the room for their messages and insight to be heard. Support Black-owned businesses, and designate your money and attention towards a cause or person with honourable values.
HOLD PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE
Uncomfortable conversations often lead to meaningful solutions. It may be awkward to call people out, but it is important to hold those around you accountable for their actions and contributions to anti-Black racism. Industry leaders and corporations aren’t exempt from this, and we’re proud of artists (or anyone for that matter) that are able to use their voice to incite tangible change.
Most importantly, the final step, don’t stop. Maintain the momentum once the news cycles have changed, and the charges have been laid. True allyship exceeds the bounds of social media and should be ingrained in daily practices and interactions. It is your responsibility to be an educated and vigilant member of society because #BlackLivesMatter today, tomorrow, and every day after that.