On the day that I began writing this story in the summer of 2020, it had been exactly two months since George Floyd died at the hands of several police officers. At the time, the world rebelled against this horrific situation and collectively said “no more!” For a few weeks following, all anyone talked about was the Black Lives Matter movement and what could be done to stop police brutality against Black lives.
From big businesses, celebrities, news outlets, and influencers, everyone wanted to be a part of the Black Lives Matter movement and make a change. At the time, I had been on a rollercoaster of emotions; I’d been gaining more exposure to my writing and supervisors were asking me to be the Black voice on the team. But all of that buzz for many Black people began to quiet down, and it’s in this lull that we need to remember why we started and keep going.
In any big revolution, there always comes a moment when people get tired. Tired of hearing about it, tired of seeing it everywhere, tired of talking about it. Well, I’m tired of living it, and Black people can’t fight this revolution alone. We’ve been fighting this fight and asking for our lives to matter for decades and we are just now being heard.
All of that buzz for many Black people has begun to quiet down, and it’s in this lull that we need to remember why we started and keep going.
I don’t blame people for getting fatigued about this movement because I feel this too when hearing the offensive comments and criticisms coming from leaders. But I still need to vote, I need to protest, I need to educate myself on the issues and not just assume that other people will make it right. These actions also go for the Black Lives Matter movement.
We must keep going. Two months or a year isn’t a long enough fight to make lasting change. If you believe that Black Lives Matter, there must be a shift, not just with your words, but in your heart and mind. This isn’t temporary; this is a lifelong mission to make Black lives and the lives of People of Color matter just as much as their white counterparts. This is so that my son can feel safer than my husband and that our kids can know how to speak up when they see something wrong.
If you are feeling tired and like you’ve lost a bit of momentum, here are some ways to keep the movement going:
1. Continue to educate yourself
The biggest most important thing you can do right now is to educate yourself. There is a lot to learn and a lot to unlearn to move the needle forward in this revolution. There is a lot that was left out in our history classes growing up that is vital to the history of this country and to Black culture.
We must learn about the inequalities that exist now for Black people and trace them back to their roots. We must unlearn that whiteness is the default and that Black and brown are “other.” We must question our own biases and racist thoughts and ask ourselves how much of that do we believe to be true. We must take the steps to truly hear what Black people are experiencing as parents, employees, and mothers.
For anyone looking to start or continue their anti-racist education, Rachel Cargle is a great person to learn from. She is a writer, speaker, and educator “in providing intellectual discourse, tools, and resources that explore the intersection of race and womanhood.” I urge you to begin with the wonderful public address from her that I’ve put below.
2. Support Black businesses
Since the uproar began, there has been a spotlight on Black-owned businesses. Clothes, jewelry, shoes, baby clothes, skincare, haircare, coffee, restaurants, coaches, writers, herbalists, creatives, stylists, and more—we continue to learn and discover new Black-owned businesses now more than ever before.
It’s a great time to diversify your shopping experience. Sure, you may have your tried and true favorites but try buying your friend coffee from a Black-owned company this time around. Or see if you can find the anti-racist book from a Black-owned book shop rather than Amazon.
In addition to shopping with small Black-owned companies, stores like Target are labeling which of their products are by Black-owned companies. This is a huge step in the right direction and makes all of our shopping experiences that much better.
3. Stop supporting racist companies, leaders, and influencers
There are a lot of companies, leaders, and influencers with values that don’t align with the Black Lives Matter movement. Over the past few months, those companies and people have been rightfully called out and asked to make a change either in their values, the future of their company, or with their leadership staff. Making note of these is important because another way to show support for Black lives is to no longer support companies who don’t value this movement.
Some of these companies are big-name brands that many people shop and use weekly. I understand the convenience of going to these stores, but right now the biggest ways to make a change is with our voice and with our money. While we may not have known what these companies believe in, value, or stand for, we can longer use unawareness as an excuse. It is our duty to be aware of who and what we support from this moment forward.
4. Speak up at work
A lot of companies posted their grievances for George Floyd and their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement at the height of the movement. Since then, many companies have gone back to their regular content calendars and not much has truly changed from them. If you work for or with one of these companies, you must speak up.
If you have the privilege of sitting at the table where marketing campaigns, new initiatives, philanthropic ideas, or company goals are being discussed and you don’t see a Black person or person of color in that room, something is wrong. A part of unlearning is knowing that as a white person you won’t likely see the same gaps in marketing or new initiatives that a Black person would. This may come from the models hired, the catchphrases used, the artists or photographers used, or maybe even some level of cultural appropriation.
Black people need to be in the room, at the table, and in leadership positions if we want to see lasting change within these companies. There needs to be more diversity and inclusion not only in leadership but on all the teams and task forces. If this is not the case at your company, it is time to say something about it.
5. Continue to diversify your family’s TV shows, books, toys, and friends
Knowing more about the Black culture and caring more about Black lives, in general, will come with watching, reading, listening to, or talking to a variety of different things and people. We can not learn about a different culture without walking outside of our own bubble. Thankfully, there are so many fantastic options for adults and kids in terms of diversified content.
And in terms of diversifying your friend circle, this is important too. We must talk to and listen to people who have a different background than us. We can learn a lot from someone else if we just take the time to put down our defenses and open our minds and hearts.
6. Share Black people’s work
This is probably the easiest yet most impactful thing you can do for the Black community. There are Black businesses, writers, creators, chefs, bloggers, speakers, athletes, designers, etc. that have amazing work to share. If you come across a good book, podcast, talk, leader, product, or blog by a Black person tell someone about it. We do this mindlessly with everyday items and Black companies should be a part of that.
This work isn’t hard, and it’s necessary. As cliche as it may sound, what we do today will have a ripple effect on our kids’ future. As parents, it is our responsibility to do the necessary and important work so we can pass down our knowledge and everything we’ve unlearned to our little ones. They are constantly learning from us and this work is no different.
So, I’ll leave you with this Rachel Cargle quote: “What is peace when the only people who get to rest in it are those with white skin?”