About the only thing all Americans can agree on these days is that we are living in challenging times. It can be tempting to detach from the news of back-to-back murders and just disappear into Pokemon Go (no shade, I did it too). But that won't change reality: We are in the midst of the latest wave of this country's ongoing civil rights movement. Confronting issues of race is uncomfortable, but as generations of civil rights activists have proven, change doesn't come without hard work and real sacrifice.
This can feel easier said than done, though, particularly when it's unclear which institutions are capable of affecting real change. It's hard not to feel helpless and frustrated, unsure of the best way to be an ally for those who are suffering most. Luckily, there are lots of resources available to those who want to help others through actions both direct, like donating money to support survivors of violence, and indirect, like learning how best to talk to children about race so that the cycle of systemic inequality can slow and eventually stop.
One important thing to remember in all of this is that it is not the responsibility of every black person or POC to have or even care to give the answers for what steps you should take in addressing issues like police brutality. We have our own grief and fear to deal with, and it is not our job to be your teacher. Here are some ways to educate yourself and help other to do the same. It's time to start getting uncomfortable and taking action.
1) Hear two New York City-based Black Lives Matter organizers advise on the best ways to contribute to the movement and spell out why using #AllLivesMatter is not helpful (and is actually really insensitive and racist).
2) From a grassroots letter-writing campaign to educating yourself about what police are and aren't allowed to do, here are some ways to get politically involved.
3) Learn about five concrete things you can do to make black lives matter, like, put your money where your mouth is. Seriously.
4) One of the many horrific things about the murder of Minnesota man Philando Castile, who was pulled over for a broken taillight, was that it was witnessed by his girlfriend, Diamond "Lavish" Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter, Dae Dae. One essential thing to remember about these situations is that there is significant trauma experienced by the victims' friends and family members, who will feel the effects for untold years to come. While it might seem like you can't do much to help people you've never met, you can! Fundraising pages are often set up to offset the costs—both financial and emotional—of survivors. For example, you can donate to Diamond "Lavish" Reynolds and Dae Dae here.
5) Read about what white people can do to support #BlackLivesMatter. This goes way beyond using a hashtag and retweeting things. Get your body in the streets.
6) Engage in must-have conversations with white children, who might not otherwise understand that black children are forced to have uncomfortable conversations about the police from very young ages. If you're worried these conversations might be difficult, don't. That just means you're talking about what's important. Need more help? Here are more than 60 resources to help you talk to your kids about race.