47 Very Specific Answers to ‘What Can I Do to Help?’
Two questions I keep getting are “What can I do?” and “What resources do I start with?” While the general answers are “anything and everything” and “Google,” I thought I’d drop some specifics for the different situations you may find yourself in. There’s a role for everybody in this, even if it’s not on the frontlines. Find yours and get to work.
If you’re just now joining the fight and not sure where to start:
- Here are some anti-racism articles, books, and media for every age.
- Read The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein.
If you have racist family members or friends who are making sideways comments:
- Respond with open-ended questions. “What do you mean by that?” “Can you explain that word?” (Keep asking “why?” like you’re an unapologetically persistent six-year-old.) Make them feel uncomfortable. And if they keep saying those things, well, it’s time to re-examine your people.
- Understand that silence = agreement.
If you have young children with questions:
- Read A Kid’s Book About Racism together and discuss it with them.
- Seek out multicultural children’s books and toys.
- Have the tough conversations. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones you’d rather ignore and avoid. Trust me, your friends of color have been having these discussions since they were five. Jonah and Anna can have them, too.
If you have all the free time, energy, and righteous anger of a Karen:
- Attend a virtual activist training, like this one, on how to keep protests peaceful and safe.
- March in a peaceful protest and follow the minority leadership there.
If you marched back in the ’60s and are amazed that young people are doing the same now:
- Share your stories of resistance with your family, friends, and on social media. If you have photos of past advocacy for justice, share those as well.
- Let it smack people in the face that this is not an isolated event, but an ongoing, over-years-and-decades issue.
If you have $20 or more to spare, donate:
Here are some organizations doing the work of fighting racism and police brutality:
- A comprehensive list of bail-out funds by city
- Black Visions Collective
- Reclaim The Block
- Know Your Rights Camp
- Minnesota Freedom Fund
- George Floyd Memorial Fund
- Campaign Zero
- Black Lives Matter
- Communities United Against Police Brutality
- I Run With Maud
- NAACP Legal Defense Fund
- American Civil Liberties Union
If you don’t have money to donate right now, but do have time and energy:
- Volunteer to watch the children of protestors and organizers.
- Bring first-aid supplies to the frontline.
- Call family and friends and ask for donations (see the list of organizations above).
If you’ve got mad cooking/baking skills:
- Find a group of protestors/mobile parades and schedule a porch pickup.
- Bring food and water to a peaceful protest.
- Set up a safe house in your home with food, first aid, and hygiene supplies.
If you’re a creative artist:
- Create art of lament for the times. Art is a powerful way to make people stop and think.
- Create art featuring the beauty and joy of black and brown people being happy and carefree.
- Instead of sharing photos and videos of black death, share art that celebrates our humanity.
If you’re a citizen journalist:
- Take photos of peaceful protests. Do not identify anyone as a “leader of the movement” on social media, or share faces, names, or any identifying factors. Record the behavior of officers and know your rights if they tell you to stop.
- Interview your family and friends about why they think the protests are needed. If they think they aren’t, or they keep pointing out that looting doesn’t help the cause, encourage them to dig deeper into why they believe property is more precious than people.
If you prefer to post Martin Luther King Jr. quotes because he was “peaceful”:
- Read this one.
- Read the entirety of his Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
- Ask yourself why he was called the “most dangerous man in America” by the FBI.
- Sit with the fact that his mother had to mourn his murder, too.
- Watch The Murder of Fred Hampton, a film about a peaceful, charismatic 20-year old activist who was killed in 1969 by Chicago police while he slept in his apartment.
If you prefer to post scripture or quotes by Jesus because he was “peaceful”:
- Read this one.
- Or this one.
- Ask yourself why he straight-up destroyed property in a temple.
- Remind yourself that he was a child refugee, lived in extreme poverty, had intersectional friendships when Jewish men didn’t do that, and grew up as a Middle Eastern man with nappy hair.
If your workplace or organization has put out a lukewarm statement filled with safe platitudes:
- Ask leadership where your company will be donating money and how much and what concrete actions it will be taking to fight racism.
- Start an anti-racism book club with your fellow employees.
If you’re an educator:
- Call out the misinformation and dog-whistle politics your students see on social media and in memes.
- If you’re a words person, amplify the stories and voices of minority authors you’ve loved. If you can’t think of any, you’re not a words person. Sorry. I don’t make the rules. Here are some to start with.
If you could sell a match to the devil himself:
- Talk to your federal, state, and local elected leaders and make your voice heard. If you’re in Cincinnati, Tamaya Dennard is awesome to talk to. I’m slightly biased. She’s offering Zoom sessions to talk over your ideas for reform.
- Offer your services and phone number to protestors who may be illegally detained and/or jailed.
If you’re a person of color who needs a break from constantly fighting the good fight, remember that self-care is a revolutionary act. Take time to:
- Watch Lovebirds on Netflix.
- Watch In Living Color, Ugly Betty, Everybody Hates Chris on Hulu.
- Make yourself some yummy food.
- Turn off the news and social media for a day.
- Go on a socially distant walk with a friend and vent or cry together.
- Scream at the sky.
- Hug your family, pet, or the nearest tree.
- Blast Nina Simone and Sade in your living room and dance.
If you’re over 18: