by Brianna Chenevey
Our society is in desperate need of change. We have become far too comfortable living in a nation that leaks racial discrimination and systemic oppression. Fortunately, the majority of us are in support of change, but the question is, how? How do we begin to work through these feelings of fear, guilt, confusion, anger, sorrow, and frustration? Let us first gain an understanding of the underlying root causes. What has caused the differential treatment of blacks, and how have we as a nation allowed it to continue? Pay close attention, because this problem involves all of us. I haven’t lived these experiences, but I’m going to listen, and I’m going to learn. Learn what antiracism means and how to foster it, how to care for it, and give it space in my life. Doing this work will be uncomfortable. It will require me to acknowledge and confront my own privileges and do the work required to ensure that I am not helping perpetuate fear, even if it is unintentional. It is time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
- Emmanuel Acho is a former NFL linebacker who is currently working as an analyst for ESPN. In “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man”, he answers questions about the response to police killings of innocent black men and women and the Black Lives Matter movement.
- “Systemic Racism Explained” is a brief, 5 minute video that provides a closer look at what systemic racism is, and how we can help solve it.
- “Let’s Get to the Root of Racial Injustice” is an inspiring and powerful TED talk. Megan Francis, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington, specializes in the study of American politics, race, and the development of constitutional law. She traces the root causes of our current racial climate to the core causes, and helps to debunk the common misconceptions to a complex social problem.
Literature is one of the best means of expression, and reading is one of the best tools for understanding. Part of being an ally is understanding the history and culture of racism in America. These are just a few examples, but there is a wide variety of books across genres. Check out the links for additional information about each book.
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- Chokehold: Policing Black Men by Paul Butler
- My Vanishing Country: A Memoir by Bakari Seller
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
If you’re able, please consider supporting organizations working to end racial injustice.
- The Marshall Project is a nonprofit news organization that establishes facts, exposes failures, and examines solutions for a criminal justice system in crisis.
- NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund fights social injustices through advocacy, education, and communication.
- Advancement Project identifies funding, services, and opportunities in California’s public systems in order to help promote racial equity and build a foundation for all.
- Equal Justice Initiative works to help end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States and helps protect basic human rights for those most vulnerable.
The quickest way to have your voice heard is by signing an online petition since it usually only requires a name and an email address. Public outcry makes a difference. Here are a few examples to get you started:
- Hands Up Act proposes creating legislation that prohibits police officers from shooting unarmed citizens.
- We Are Done Dying is a petition launched by the NAACP in honor of George Floyd in an effort to eliminate senseless hate crimes.
- Take the Pledge is a call to action for the public education that all California’s students deserve.
- Close the Homework Gap and Narrow the Digital Divide COVID-19 has brought the stark realities of a digital divide called the homework gap – the inability for students to do schoolwork at home due to lack of internet access. A disproportionate share of these students are black, brown, live in rural areas, or come from low-income families.
REGISTER AND VOTE
Your vote makes a difference. Get involved and stay informed.
- California Teachers Association has an entire webpage devoted to Election 2020 with recommendations, resources, and information on your elected officials.
- Check to see if you’re registered. If you’re not, register to vote here.
- Vote Save America provides helpful information on candidates. How do they compare on the issues you care about? It also provides resources on how to make a difference in your community (e.g., fundraising, writing letters, phone banking, etc.).
“We may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us.” Rep. John Lewis
*For more resources go to our OGEA Equity and Human Rights Facebook page.