#BlackLivesMatter: Resources for Dismantling Racism in America
It has been a really rough year so far. As we head into our third month of quarantine because of Covid-19, America finds itself fighting yet another illness, that which is White supremacy. Racism is embedded into the fabric of this country. Beginning in the 17th century, millions of African people were kidnapped, enslaved, and shipped across the Atlantic to the Americas under horrific conditions. Nearly two million people died at sea during the agonizing journey.
For the next two centuries, the enslavement of black people in the United States created wealth, opportunity, and prosperity for millions of Americans. As American slavery evolved, an elaborate and enduring mythology about the inferiority of black people was created to legitimate, perpetuate, and defend slavery. The effects of this part of our history is what drives and reinforces the systematic oppression, dehumanization, and brutalization of Black people in this country.
The recent murder of George Floyd by ex-officer Derek Cheuvin seems to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. People are outraged and rightfully so. It is traumatizing and exhausting seeing video after video of Black men and women being murdered by law enforcement or vigilante private citizens claiming to stand their ground because they perceive Blackness as a threat. Yet here we are, again, a community grappling with racial injustice trying to determine what steps we need to take to stop these incidents from occurring; another body, another murder, another day of hashtags and another name to add to the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
The time has come for all of us to pick a side. You're either actively working towards ending racism or you're not. This country is at a point where all of us must participate in dismantling a system that was created to oppress Black people. It's not enough to change it. We must tear it down and start over. We must create a system rooted in equity and true equality. We must do this TOGETHER.
As a Puerto Rican woman married to a Black African American man raising Black daughters, I have a responsibility to them and all Black people to fight for a system that is just. And though I am a person of color I recognize that I am not Black. While I may experience other forms of injustice I will never know what it's like to walk in Black skin. However, not knowing what it means to be Black will not stop me from fighting with and for Black people.
I have been using my platform as a writer to raise awareness, share resources, and educate on racial injustice for years. That's why I wanted to take this opportunity to continue sharing resources and ways that our allies can contribute to the fight against racism and White supremacy. Below you will find a list of resources and ways for you to get actively involved.
The resources listed here are a combination of resources from a document I came across compiled by Gabrielle Saba Zimmer, information I found on the Black Lives Matter website and other resources I found on the internet. I share them here for easy access and reference. Please share with anyone who may need them.
Anti-Racism Toolkits & Guides
(Courtesy of Black Lives Matter)
Articles for Adults
Books For Adults (purchase from The Lit-Bar)
Media/Podcasts/Webinars for Adults
Lesson Plans & Educational Resources
Books for Children
Media for Children
Organizations To Support
BAR WE (Building Anti-Racist White Educators) Instagram
Until Freedom www.untilfreedom.com
Know Your Rights www.knowyourrights.com
More Anti-Racism Educational Resources
How to Reach Your State Representatives
To contact your Federal, State, and Local Officials click here.
The More You Know:
Elected officials are a lot like the rest of us; they pay more attention to people they know than to strangers. So get to know them or members of their staffs, in person if possible and through regular emails, letters or phone calls to their offices if not. Here are some tips:
Using their websites, find out if your member of Congress and your senators have offices in or near your community; most do. Drop by the local office and try to meet at least one person on the staff. Get the names of and contact info for staffers who work on issues of particular interest and then reach out to them online, by mail or on the phone. Make sure they know you’re a constituent, not some out-of-towner or out-of-stater.
Most members of Congress have town hall meetings or make other public appearances when they’re not in Washington. Particularly in a large state, it can be tough to arrange a direct contact with a senator, but with a little effort you can speak directly to your congressman or congresswoman.
Contacts with local officials and state legislators should be even easier. You can track down your state legislators’ local offices through their websites and you generally can get contact information for your city, county and town council members through the local government website, an online search engine or a phone directory.
EXAMPLES OF LETTERS AND PHONE SCRIPTS
Tips on telephoning Congress:
The phone numbers of the offices of your senators and representative are available on their websites. You can also call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your senators’ and/or representative’s office.
Remember that telephone calls are usually taken by a staff member, not the member of Congress. Ask to speak with the aide who handles the issue about which you wish to comment.
After identifying yourself, tell the aide you would like to leave a brief message, such as:
“Please tell Senator/Representative (Name) that I am calling in regard to the recent incidents of police violence occurring across the country. People of color are disproportionately targeted and shot at and as a law abiding, tax paying citizen of color I would like to know what Senator/Representative (Name) is doing to ensure that all citizens are protected and treated equally in his/her district. Furthermore, I would like to know his/her position on police violence and what actions they are taking or have taken to ensure that unethical conduct of all law enforcement agencies in their district are being investigated and punished accordingly. My hope is that Senator/Representative (Name) draft and support a bill that ensures law enforcement officers are held accountable for their actions when they use unreasonable or excessive force. I look forward to Senator/Representative (Name) reply. Thank you for your time.
You may also request a written response to your telephone call.
SAMPLE CONGRESSIONAL LETTER
This is an example of a letter to a Representative or Senator. In an email sent from your Congressman’s website, you will fill out your contact information and submit the body of the letter in the message section. (You can copy the below and paste it into the body of an email or into a new document if you will be mailing the letter)
The Honorable ________
United States House of Representatives/United State Senate
City, State, Zip
Dear Representative/Senator ______________:
As a concerned citizen and constituent, the recent events of police violence occurring throughout the country are alarming. People of color are disproportionately targeted, shot at, and killed when compared to their White counterparts. As a law abiding, tax paying citizen of color I would like to express my concern about police violence. As the representative for our district it is imperative that you ensure the rights of all citizens who live here are protected and treated equally. In an era of viral video, body cameras and dash cams even when the incidents are caught on camera very rarely are the officers held accountable for their often unreasonable and excessive use of force.
In a time where there are increased tensions between law enforcement and the communities they serve, it is critical that our representatives take action to ensure that the rights of all constituents are protected. Specifically, I am interested in knowing your position on police violence, what actions you are taking or have taken to ensure that unethical conduct amongst law enforcement agencies in your district are being investigated and punished accordingly.
My hope is that as the Senator/Representative you are doing all you can to ensure law enforcement officers are being held accountable for their actions when they use unreasonable or excessive measures to subdue or detain citizens. Please make police violence a higher priority for our district and nation as a whole. Please work towards ensuring that legislation is passed that holds those who abuse their power accountable. If we are to grow as a community and nation we must restore the trust and respect between law enforcement and the communities they serve. We can no longer sit idle and count on existing legislation and policy when it comes to police misconduct. It is clear that the existing laws relative to police conduct no longer serve the best interest of the citizens they were originally designed to protect. Change must happen. Thank you for your consideration and please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss this issue further.
Your City, State, Zip
Your Phone Number