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Feeling helpless? Turn that into action

[last updated: Wednesday 8 July] [first published: Tuesday 2 June]

As a righteous rebellion sweeps across the United States of America, many people who haven’t previously been aware of the injustices inflicted on Black people are starting to wake up to the issues.

You might feel the Black Lives Matter movement speaks to you, but you’re not yet sure how to interpret anything you’re feeling, so I’m starting a list of things you can do, great and small, to turn what you’re feeling right now into action.

It’s not enough to feel sad or embarrassed, ashamed or ignorant.

It’s time to change.

I’ve already written a couple of posts, including Trying to find hope and An open letter to the Women & Equalities Select Committee, but I’ll be updating this post regularly as new information comes through, so please check back often.

The following list is in no particular order, please just follow what stands out to you most. Start small so that you know how much power you have in your own hands and can build on it from there.

This is a list from a UK perspective, but with plenty of crossover to the US

  1. Understand your own role in this issue by reading Peggy McIntosh’s short essay ‘White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack’ it will easily and quickly open your eyes to the ways in which white people are treated differently to others.
  2. Examine your own behaviour, for example:
  3. Step up in your own sphere of influence and speak to people you wouldn’t normally talk to about issues of race and injustice. You can start with this piece from Marilyn Addy to understand why.
  4. Join the Women’s Equality Party – the first ever political party in the UK to be headed up by a person of colour, in this case the brilliant Mandu Reid. If you’re joining the Women’s Equality Party, make sure to check out their BAME Caucus and the allies group
  5. Sign the petition to Battle racism by updating GCSE reading lists
  6. Complete the survey ‘The Impact of Omission: A survey to investigate the extent to which British Imperial history is explored in the curriculum of compulsory education in the U.K.’ I promise it’s super short and will help inform things like the petition above.
  7. Think that racism is only a US issue? Read Metro’s The State of Racism.
  8. Read the New York Times’ Antiracist Reading List.
  9. To help protesters in the States you can donate to the National Bail Fund Network.
  10. To inform yourself about what lies at the heart of these issues you can read the ebook Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? (edited by Joe Macaré, Maya Schenwar, et al.) which has just been made free for download.
  11. Spend your money with Black and women of colour-run businesses. If you’re in the US you can visit Buy From A Black Woman and in the UK you can visit Janet’s List.
  12. Write to your MP – make your voice heard.
  13. For advice for the workplace read this piece from Benish Shah on How to Talk Trauma & Protests at Work. The (very non-definitive) Guidelines.
  14. Read the Equality & Human Rights Commission’s ‘Research report 108: the ethnicity pay gap’ to understand why ethnicity pay gap reporting is important.
  15. Read Noughts + Crosses by Malorie Blackman and watch the BBC production to understand just how insidious racism is. It truly is the air we breathe.
  16. Particularly if you’re non-Black, talk to any and everyone you know. I’ll be posting more examples as I go, but this thread from R/GA’s Rachel Mercer is a good place to start.
  17. Donate to the Justice for Breonna Taylor campaign on GoFundMe.
  18. In the UK support these organisations: Southall Black Sisters // Imkaan // Black Lives Matter UK // Operation Black Vote // Runnymede // gal-dem // Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust (h/t Fawcett Society)
  19. Check out this brilliantly comprehensive Google Doc, the Anti-Racism Resource List (h/t The Copy Club).
  20. Another great Black-owned business to buy from is Kassandra Lauren Gordon Jewellery – and I’d like to share here a helpful video she shared as well.
  21. Read these two pieces (one and two) on the weaponisation of white tears: how white women can play a particular threat to Black lives – and therefore how important it is for us to check our privilege and act with integrity. One recent example of this is the ‘Ramble Racist”s threats against Christian Cooper, a birder who was out birdwatching in New York when she attacked him.
  22. Be aware of your rights when protesting in the US and in the UK.
  23. Read this excellent newsletter from the Heights. Well-researched, evidence-based piece on fighting implicit bias.
  24. Sign these petitions.
  25. Check out this varied and brilliant list of UK resources – including even more Black-owned businesses you can buy from.
  26. Act immediately on Kesiena Boom’s 100 Ways White People Can Make Life Less Frustrating For People of Color which I found via this excellent piece from Nicola Rollock in the FT.
  27. Broaden your podcast listening using this list from Elle: The Anti-Racist Podcast List and I’d also add Pod Save the People to your list as well.
  28. If you’re not sure how to implement change in your organisation read this brilliant list 600 Black Advertising Professionals Demand Meaningful Action From Leadership in Open Letter.
  29. Buy from the Strategist’s 59 Black-Owned, U.K.-Based Businesses to Support
  30. Buy a Jamii discount card (just £14.95 for a year) and use their excellent database of Black-owned businesses to figure out where to spend your money.
  31. When joining a new company ask them about their diversity & inclusion policies. If they don’t have any (why not?) negotiate some as part of your contract. For example, you could ask for a diversity & inclusion budget to be started which could cover reading for the company, workshops and training.

Remember: this is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s not enough to engage with this topic once – like buying a new summer skirt then discarding it once the season has passed – you owe it to everyone to continue speaking up about injustice for as long as it needs fighting.