The times may be changing, but the temperature reading on society's thermostat seems to be stagnate. For communities of color, the fear of being another body is a very real one that occurs every minute of every day. They are killed regularly by police, turned away from jobs, denied loans and housing opportunities all because of their blackness. I am what's called a non-black PoC(Person of Color). I have grown up under a safety net of privilege, because I am light-skinned. My father is white, and my mother is a mix of black and native american. I can blend in and "pass" for white, leaving me far less susceptible to violence and systematic oppression than most people of color. When I open up the internet to see another black person dead, I not only see a human life, but I see the faces of my own family. I feel pain and remorse for those lives, because I have been lucky enough to come face to face with how valuable the contribution of black life is to society. Do you even have any idea how many things black people have invented that you still use everyday? On top of these deaths regularly in the black community at large, the death rate for transgender women of color climbs even quicker. We have lost 16 trans women of color this year. Even scarier, we've lost FIVE this week alone. My immediate reaction to these deaths is to want to help, but how? Well, here are five simple ways you can stand in solidarity with communities of color.
1. Don't Recenter Conversations About Blackness Around You
Step one is to acknowledge your privilege! When you are first beginning to wake up to the truth, you will find yourself feeling guilty, and that is a necessary part of understanding the reality of your privilege and how you benefit from it. This guilt is a form of you coming to terms with the hard, cold, truth that everything is not about you. The struggles of people of color are monumental compared to the white/non-black majority, and this is not an opinion. This is a fact. I've heard non-black PoC say things like "well saying that non-black PoC are racists is racist". For the people who think this way, there is something you must understand: There is no such thing as "reverse racism". It is literally impossible for a black person to be racist towards white or non-black PoC. I think you may not understand what Racism means, so let me lay out the definition. Racism consists of systematic ideologies and practices that seek to justify, or cause, the unequal distribution of privileges, rights or goods among different racial groups. Statistically speaking, minority groups have never taken anything from the white/non-black PoC majority. You probably didn't know that a lot of the banks and coproations we have today were funded and grown with the blood of slaves. You probably didn't know that the White House was built by slaves. According to UsNews, About 73 percent of whites own homes, compared to just 43 percent of black folks. A black man is three times more likely to be searched at a traffic stop, and six times more likely to go jail than a white person. Black people make up nearly 40 percent of arrests for violent crimes. The point being, white supremacy has been functioning for hundreds of years and it's time to accept that. It is not an opinion, it is a statistical reality. We do NOT live in a post-racial society.
2. Donate/Financially Support Communities of Color
This second one is easy. Donate! There are so many easy ways to donate. Not only can you give money to PoC ran orgs, but you can also pour into the labour of people of color! Support their small businesses, their works, their endeavors. Support them in positions of power, because right now they are still fighting for equal positions of power in a white male dominated society. Remember, standing in solidarity is not a personal act where you stand to gain anything. It simply the act of empowering people of color to express themselves, and allowing them to flourish while doing so. It is acknowledging that there is a lack of balance in power, and that this wealth needs to be shared. It is telling them that their contributions are important, by literally funding and financially showing solidarity towards their efforts. Are you someone who questions these contributions? Here are a few modern contributions that we still use: Chips, Mailboxes, Incandescent Light Bulbs,Traffic signals or processed sugars. These are only a few of the many contributions people of color have offered to society that is still used today. Not only do we still use many of these inventions, but we continue to support corporations founded on the blood of black slaves. It's time to take responsibility.
3. Listen! Listen, Listen, and Listen.
White and non-black voices get the privilege of almost always being heard. This is why when it comes to showing support, one of the most important things we can do is listen! Listen to people of color and what they have to say. Consider it, and while doing so, take whatever emotions you think you may feel out of it. Again, this isn't about you. This is about a marginalized group of people who are being killed and silenced. Not you. You wouldn't tell a scientist at NASA how to conduct a deep space mission, and you wouldn't tell an airline pilot how to fly a plane. So stop telling black folks how to talk about and approach anti-blackness. When they come forward and speak about these topics, it is our responsibility as fellow PoC to uplift their truth and their voices, because it takes so much courage to speak out against something that people are being killed for regularly. When we argue against people of color, we are not listening to them. When we point fingers, we are not listening. The more we listen, the more we are capable of learning.
4. Speak Out and Against Anti-Blackness
This part is not easy, but it is absolutely necessary. Your silence is a form of accepting white supremacy. Being silent around those who continue to perpetuate anti-blackness (whether they are aware or not) is merely another contribution to white supremacy. The more you refuse to acknowledge and fight against anti-blackness, the more fiercely you engage in supremacy. I have lost a lot of friends for speaking out and acknowledging this truth. In reality, they were never your friends. Just cogs in a system that does not care about black folks. The same people that will fight your stances on anti-blackness are the same ones who will post #AllLivesMatter in response. They will tell you that by somehow acknowledging the importance of black lives, you are suppressing another race? I honestly don't get that argument. If someone was protesting a specific dying rain forest, you wouldn't passive aggressively say " ALL rain forests matter", because it's a clear attempt to re-center the conversation away from the forest that is dying. This is how you sound when you correct people speaking out against anti-blackness. Also bear in mind, that speaking out can mean a number of things. I'm not saying go out and pick up your picket signs. I'm saying call your friends out when they are racist. Call out your family members even when it's uncomfortable. It's time they got uncomfortable, because it means they've grown comfortable benefiting from a system that thrives on the blood of black and brown bodies. Yes, being awake to systematic racism is a constant discomfort, but living it is something most of us could never even imagine. So honestly, being aware is like the LEAST we can do.
5. Love Black People, Not Just Black Culture
We all love hip hop and R&B music. We love the styles, the dialect, the art, and the dancing. Yet black deaths happen everyday, and many of us remain silent on these issues. This last blurb was taken from a lesson that Hunger Games superstar Amandla Stenberg taught the internet. "What would America be like if it loved black people as much as it loves black culture?" says Stenberg, who has spoken out many times against cultural appropriation. Stenberg, who was in the press earlier this year for criticizing Kylie Jenner's use of cornrows, is a young woman who is setting the standards straight for the majority groups who benefit from the tokenization of black culture. Showing love to black communities is a combination of all five of these quirks. We must allow conversations about blackness to remain about blackness. We must give to and empower those who are systematically oppressed. We must listen to their cries for justice and their demands for civility. We must support them because death is a greater than first world justice. It is louder than the bells of white liberalism. We must leave behind ideas of respectability politics. It's not just our words that people pay attention to, It's our actions.