It’s nearing the end of the first week of June, which means the end of the #amplifymelanatedvoices movement on social media. The purpose of this movement was for non-black influencers and content creators to mute their own usual content so that the voices of the black influencers and content creators can be heard.
But now that the movement is almost over (or is over depending on when you’re reading this)… what now? Now that you can go back to your regularly scheduled content, what are you doing to STILL amplify black voices? What are you doing to STILL show your allyship with your fellow black influencers? How are you showing up for them?
Here’s the thing. I understand the symbolism behind muting your regular content. I get it. But it’s not enough. Honestly, it’s lazy. Muting your content for a week and then going back to your life is performative. Privilege check. When the week is over and you’re done amplifying our voices: we are still fighting for our lives.
IT’S NOT ENOUGH.
What will you do tomorrow?
WILL YOU PULL UP?
Or will you go back to your regularly scheduled program and repeat this cycle the next time a black man or woman is shot dead by somebody that has sworn to protect and serve us?
If you don’t know what else you can do for racial justice, check out this list of 75 things you can do. Then keep reading for a list of ways you can show up for the black community in general (understanding that this is by no means an exhaustive list, of course).
Say their names.
And no I don’t mean the names of the victims of police brutality and racism, although it’s important that you acknowledge them by name.
I mean your friends and your family and even your coworkers that say and do questionable and outright hateful things toward and about black people and people of color (and any marginalized group). CALL THEM OUT. (Imagine me clapping on each word for emphasis.)
If the black person around you doesn’t respond to the hate that’s being spewed toward them, don’t assume that they’re okay with what was said or done. We don’t always speak up because we’re often afraid of what will happen if we do. If you’re not sure how they took it, ask them and then speak up.
Silence allows oppression to stay alive.
Black people have been accused of “making it about race” for forever. But the reality is when you have to navigate through the world as we do, you notice things. You have to. It can literally be the difference between life or death.
Start paying attention and you will see racism, discrimination, and oppression everywhere. Listen to what’s said and how it’s said. Look at who’s in the room.
But don’t stop there.
Pay attention to what’s not being said, who’s not in the room. Recognize how injustices are minimized and disregarded if not outright denied.
Educate yourself (and others).
It’s not enough to be “not racist”. You have to actively be “anti-racist”.
It’s not enough to teach your children to “not see color”. You have to teach them that we’re all different but we should all be treated fairly – and don’t wait too long to have these talks. It’s never too young to teach your child about how people are treated differently because they look or act differently and that that’s not okay.
It’s not enough to want to be better. You have to actively take the steps to educate yourself on how you can be better.
There are so many resources online that can help you navigate this space. Ask questions when you need to, but do your research first. Don’t rely on black people and other people of color to teach you from ground zero. We don’t always have the capacity for that kind of labor on top of fighting for our humanity. And, understand that it’s absolutely okay if your black friend doesn’t want to be that person that you lean on for this.
Learn the history of the relationship between black people and the police in this country. Or oppression and racism in general. Learn about the massacres, the housing discrimination issues, the history of predatory lending, the school funding issues. Understand that what you learned in school is an extremely white washed version of our actual history.
Visit the Eye See Me bookstore’s anti-racist collection to find books dedicated to teaching about anti-racism and activism for both you and your children and to support a black business at the same time.
Show up for us.
Join local groups that support social justice. Follow their social media accounts, subscribe to their email lists, show up to their events.
When your black friends invite you to an event, go for support. Listen. Learn.
Go out into the community that you say you support and SUPPORT THAT COMMUNITY. Whether it’s patronizing a black business or volunteering at shelters.
If ever there was a time to ask to speak to the manager – this is it. Find out who your local legislators and politicians are, contact them, and let them know where you stand.
When you’re invited to speak on panels, hired for brand campaigns, or asked to join intimate meetings/lunches/dinners with other influencers and you notice all the people there look like you – speak up. Ask why there are no black influencers in the space. It’s highly unlikely whoever is organizing the event couldn’t find one black person to be involved. The bigger the group, the more black people and other people of color you should see. If there are fifty of you and one black lady it doesn’t pass the smell test. Offer to refer your friends who would be excited to be a part of the opportunity.
If you’re the one organizing a conference or a summit or a panel discussion, be cognizant of who you invite to participate.
I understand that not everybody’s ministry is to be out in the streets marching and protesting. You could instead donate your time and money.
Donate to relief funds that use the money to bail protesters out of jail or black businesses rebuild.
Donate to organizations that help provide legal services to victims that can’t afford their own.
Help a family buy food, medicine, diapers, formula, and other necessities.
Donate your time in your area of expertise.
Crafty? Create something, sell it, and donate the profits. Own a business? Donate the proceeds or profits from the sale of one of your products or even donate your time if you’re in an industry where you can offer direct help (legal services, counseling, etc). For example, all proceeds from my ebook providing recordkeeping tips for business owners will be donated to relief funds.
Offer your place of business as a place for people to organize.
If you’re in a situation involving black people and other people of color and you’re not sure how to handle that situation, take a step back and ask for guidance from your friends that are in that community. Sometimes you can have the best intentions but your knee-jerk reactions can land terribly and be extremely tone deaf.
Don’t center yourself.
It’s not about you.
Don’t comment on every situation with your anecdotes. Listen to what people tell you and just absorb that information. Basically just continue to amplify the voices of others.
If you’re a true ally, we will know. If you’re being performative, we will know. No need to be extra just to prove that you’re down for the cause.
If somebody calls you out for making a mistake – which you will – don’t get defensive and start making it about yourself. Listen to what’s being said, apologize, and move forward with changed behavior. Nobody is going to be perfect.
Acknowledge your own prejudices.
Most importantly, check yourself.
If you consider yourself an ally, yet you turn into Amy Cooper when you encounter a black man who is minding his business or asks you a simple question or reminds you of the posted rules of the space you’re in, check yourself.
If you call yourself an ally, but you automatically question the presence of a black man or woman in a certain space, check yourself.
If you’re muting your feed to amplify black voices today, but get uncomfortable at the mere presence of a black man walking into your apartment building, jogging down your street, or passing you on the street, check yourself.
If you feel like you can’t speak out against police brutality, and discrimination, and racism, and oppression without denouncing the rioting and looting in the same breath, check yourself.
Ask yourself what about that person’s presence makes you uncomfortable? Why can’t you stand up for your brother and sisters of color without also reprimanding them in the process? Acknowledge that you, yes you, also have to some work to do. And then do the work.
So tell me white people, what’s next?