As a kid growing up, I always remember adults preaching about how reading is fundamental. The reason that reading is so important is that it keeps us educated and aware. During this time, it's important for people, regardless of race, to understand that this ongoing fight for racial equality began 150 years ago when slavery was abolished. The repercussions of slavery and the Jim Crow era have bled over into the way blacks are socially, financially, and educationally positioned in America. To join in the fight to end systemic racism will require white allyship. So, it is important for whites and blacks to understand the history, policies, and institutions that have led to the events in America today. Below are a few recommended books to continue advocacy and support for racial equality.
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age Of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
- Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, and Future Reparations by Joe Feagin
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
- Stony the Road by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Reading books is the first step in advocating for racial equality; but it doesn't stop there. It’s important for people to use what they have learned about race and discrimination, and approach spaces with people of color with a more enlightened perspective. If you are an ally for racial equality and change, you will join black people or people of color by speaking up against racism wherever it exists.
Get Involved Locally and Support Your Community
Getting involved with your local community long term, specifically in politics, can help break down systemic oppression and promote racial equality. Many of your local legislators create and pass legislation that directly affect your schools, police department, healthcare centers, etc. Not being involved or aware, allows for legislators to create bills that do not allow for equal opportunity for all. It doesn't take the federal government to make change, but rather community members who are diligent and willing to hold their local legislators accountable for change. There are even opportunities for teens to get engaged.
If you are looking for more short-term ways to make change in your community, you can help support local black-owned business. There is a significant racial wealth gap that predates the Jim Crow era. Job discrimination and red lining have prevented wealth building in African American communities. Therefore, supporting black business owners and entrepreneurs provides African American communities an opportunity to build generational wealth. Supporting black-owned businesses not only help African American communities but the overall local economy and helps foster job creation.
Petitions have great power to evoke change. Petitions have led to the end of discriminatory practices and have even gotten laws passed. While not every petition that is signed will make immediate change, sharing petitions can help bring awareness to issues. For example, after the video of Ahmaud Arbery killing surfaced months after his death, petitions began for police departments to reopen closed cases such as Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain.
The most popular platforms for petitions where they can be created and can be signed by the community is on Change.org. Also, the social media platform Twitter has become an unofficial petition site of their own.
Racial equality isn’t something that will happen overnight, but as long as there are people who believe in equality change will come. The way to strive for racial equality is understanding and acknowledging that minorities, specifically black people, are still disadvantaged. Therefore, education, community involvement, and active advocacy for black lives will help to push for racial equality. bell hooks, prominent feminist and social activist, said to break down systems of oppression you first must help the people most disadvantaged by the system in order to help all.
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