The Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests have been inspiring and exciting. It’s exciting to see tens of thousands of people stand up for justice against racism. And it’s inspiring to be reminded that when people come together to oppose injustice, real change can occur.
Racial justice is climate justice. As the BLM protests have shown, racism is pervasive in the United States. If we want to achieve a just transition to a fair, clean energy economy for the sake of our health and the planet, we must stand with the BLM movement in protest of an unjust system.
While everyone can protest in person, our families can still support the Black Lives Matter movement in meaningful and concrete ways.
10 Ways Families Can Support Black Lives Matter Protests
- Learn more. Books like How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi provide a solid understanding of what racism is and why it’s so destructive. Here’s a list of children’s books and resources for children that will help explain racism to younger kids. You can watch many of these films and documentaries with older teens and young adults, then discuss how racism might be affecting your own community. For guidance on how to talk about racism with your family, consult When the World Feels Like a Scary Place: Essential Conversations for Anxious Parents & Worried Kids by Abigail Gewirtz, Ph.D. One important recommendation: Start with your own family’s basic values, and acknowledge that your children might be worried and confused. Check out Gerwitz’ sample conversations if you need a place to start.
- Speak out. The BLM movement declares that “Silence = Violence.” In other words, not objecting when others make racist statements or act in racist ways implicitly condones those statements and actions. Get comfortable saying, “I disagree, and here’s why…” Put up lawn signs, apply car bumper stickers, and use your social media to support an anti-racist ethic.
- Help protesters directly. Protesters need water, snacks, and basic first aid supplies. Can you make up care packages to drop off at a central location for them to pick up? What about face masks, and signs they can carry? Why not offer to be an emergency contact in the event someone is arrested, hurt or otherwise incapacitated?
- Donate to bail efforts. When protesters are arrested, they must post bail in order to be released from jail. Black and Latino individuals typically face fines that are 35% and 19% higher than whites, respectively, while simply being black increases someone’s odds of being held in jail pretrial by 25%, according to the Pretrial Justice Institute. The National Bail Fund Network has compiled a list of more than 60 community bail funds across the country that are collecting money to help bail out protesters.
- Support black-owned businesses. The EatOkra mobile app will help you find a nearby Black-owned restaurant. Here’s a list of Black-owned bookstores. Inquire on your neighborhood listserv about other black-owned businesses you can support.
- Sign a petition. This change.org petition calls for justice for George Floyd.
- Diversify your friends and family. Getting to know people who are different from you can helps gain a greater understanding of the challenges other people face, and why systemic racism needs to be dismantled. Can your place of worship, local community center, or school collaborate with others to host diversity potluck suppers or conversations?
- Vote, help register others to vote, and apply for mail-in ballots. Voting is one of the most important ways we can change the system and elect leaders who will pass laws to undo racism at every level. If you’re not yet registered, or know others who are not registered, visit Vote.org. Physical polling places may be disrupted by coronavirus concerns so consider voting by mail if your state allows it (and two-thirds of states do). Vote early if you have the option.
- Contact your local, state and federal government officials and advocate for change. USA.gov makes it easy to find contact information for elected officials at all levels. The NAACP provides a list of talking points related to police reform. Send emails, make phone calls, and attend virtual town hall meetings.
- Make the connection between racism and environmental justice. People of color often live in areas that are disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous waste, polluting industrial facilities, and contaminated air and water. Moms Clean Air Force Community Rx program is dedicated to advocacy in Black communities. As Dr. Robert Bullard, the “father” of environmental justice said, “Protection should not be distributed because of the color of your skin. Everyone deserves a clean, healthy, sustainable and livable environment.”