Sweet and docile
Meek, humble, and kind
Beware the day
They change their mind
~ Langston Hughes
Ten For Today – Now What?
This week, we’ve celebrated the birth of our nation. We’ve robustly sang along to the National Anthem. We saw children become United States citizens.
We also watched two men be executed. One for selling DVDs, the other for complying with the police.
We’ve created hashtags.
We’ve tweeted our outrage.
We’ve hugged our children tighter. We’ve hugged our fathers, brothers, uncles, lovers. Tighter.
What now? How many more times can we cry, shake with rage, pray, and nothing changes.
Today, I want to be the change. I can protest all day long. I can block traffic. I can yell insults at the cops. I can get arrested. But what does that change? Instead, turn your outrage into something else.
Last night as I watched another man gunned down, I thought what can I do? Here’s the things I thought of:
- Stop blaming the victim. Instead of asking WHY he resisted arrest, or WHY he was selling CD’s , or why she changed lanes without signaling, ask WHY an arrest for black people often ends in judge, jury and executioner on the spot. Read this article to understand why we blame people.
- Take care of yourself. Two men dead in the span of 48 hours, with the video proof is too much for any person to handle. Log off of social media. Avoid the news. Be still. People don’t realize how harmful stress is on your body. Unchecked, stress can lead to death. Stress is often ignored because we don’t recognize this silent killer. Stress is harmful. Follow this link for a list of fifty things stress can do to your body.
- Get help. Black people have come a long way with the stigma of mental health, but there is still more work to do in this area. Look up Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. If seeing a man killed from two different angles, fearing what happens the next time you drive to the store, or fear of encountering a police officer isn’t the following definition, than let me know what the correct definition is.
PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.
- Stop letting someone else do it. We’re all tired after work. Some of us pull second shift with a second job, school, children. Attending a lengthy school board, council, or community meeting is not what I think about when I think down time. We have to do this. One or two extra nights a month can be added to your schedule. Show up with a friend or three at the meetings. You may not feel confident to speak right away, but be seen. You will find the courage quick when the zoning board proposes a half way house two blocks from the elementary school or the school board decides to cut funding for the arts. I know we can’t be everywhere at once. If you can’t go every month, Round Robin this. Make arrangements with your like minded friends and go every other month. Discuss what was planned or voted on, then plan your actions.
- Vote. Don’t tell me your vote doesn’t count. It does. When you cast a vote, that’s your voice. Your vote says “I have confidence in you to fight for my rights.” Your vote says “I trust you to do what’s best for me and my community.” We can’t just come out for Presidential elections. We have to pay attention to what’s happening locally also. President Obama couldn’t tell you what’s going on in Upper Darby, but your local council person better be able to.
- Stop voting straight ticket. Don’t let a D or an R near a name sway your decision. Don’t let paid poll workers control your vote. Do your homework. These are some of the questions you want to ask about the ticket:
What office am I voting for, and how does this affect ME?
What does the candidate stand for?
What’s the candidates record on things that matter to me?
- Once you’ve given someone the privilege of your vote, hold them accountable for their actions in office. Don’t stop at the celebration that your chosen candidate was elected. Make them earn your next vote. A life long politician once said “Campaigning now is really for the next election”. Call your elected official out when they fail to keep their election promises. Write letters to their office, set times to meet with them. Look at their voting record in Congress. Who your state senator or US Representative is should not be trivia answers. The following was taken from USA.gov. Click the following links to connect to your elected officials.
- U.S. Senators
- Demand not only justice, but action. Ijeoma Oluo tweeted 14 things we can do to start the change. She also reiterate my earlier statement: “Police reform should be on the lips of every local politician in this country bc (sic) they should know they will not get your support without it” Visit Oluo’s website for more information about this phenomenal woman.
1) Do you know your city’s police accountability procedures?
2) Do your police have any provisions for citizen oversight?
3) Is there a civilian oversight panel to review police shootings and misconduct?
4) if you do not know this you can google your city with police accountability/review procedures
5) what is the threshold for indicting police for misconduct? Example: in Seattle (where I live) you have to prove willful malice.
6) Do your police have body cameras?
7) When you do your research, if you don’t like the answers to these questions, if they do not hold police accountable, here’s what u can do
8) Demand your city council member make police reform a priority. If they won’t, vote them out – recruit friends to do the same.
9) Demand that your mayor do the same. If he/she won’t vote them out & recruit friends to do the same.
10) Do not give money or votes to any candidate who will not make police reform a priority. Make sure they know that is a requirement
11) Demand that your sheriff and local DA’s office do the same.
12) just google your city name + city council – all the contact info should be there.
13) along with phone numbers, email addresses – all the info u need to remind them that black lives WILL matter whether they want it or not
14) Do this today, do this tomorrow, do this every day like your life depends on it – ours actually does.
Some other things to add because I thought of them after I finished the original post:
- Meet people where they are. Stop belittling someone because they aren’t as aware or “woke” as you. Harriet Tubman is credited with saying
I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.
- We are not participants in the Grief Olympics. My outrage will not match your outrage. My reaction won’t be your reaction. People grieve differently. Respect that it is not a one size fit all approach.
Don’t talk about it, be about it.