Protests are taking place all over the country in the wake of the death of yet another unarmed black man, George Floyd, at the hands of the police. Thousands of Americans are taking to the streets to protest racial injustice, and it’s a noble and important thing to do. Civil disobedience is the foundation of this country’s history, and protesting in itself is a form of patriotism (yes, even rioting. Don’t forget The Boston Tea Party caused north of a million dollars in damages).
However, not all of us are able to go out and protest, no matter how much we may believe in the cause. Some of us are not physically able to participate in protests. Others might be at higher risk for COVID-19 and unable to be out safely. I myself have a panic disorder triggered by crowds that makes it very difficult to protest. If you, like me, are at home feeling like you should be doing something, here is a list of ways you can help if you are unable to go out and protest.
What You Can Do To Help Right Now
The simplest and most effective thing you can probably do from home to support those protesting is donating to bail funds. These bail funds are popping up across the country to help arrested protestors pay their bail.
You can also donate to the George Floyd Memorial Fund, the Minnesota Freedom Fund, Black Visions Collective, and others. There are plenty of organizations out there doing great work. Do some research, and if you have the means, donating is a huge way to help the movement.
Another way you can help people on the ground is to listen to police scanners in your city. Use the information to contact the people you know who are out protesting in case of any kind of emergency. It’s often hard to get information when you’re in the thick of the protest, and those of us at home can help move communication along.
You can also send in videos of police brutality that you see online or that are sent to you by protestors to their respective police departments for an internal investigation.
Speaking of social media, an excellent little thing you can do to help is fact check misinformation you on your feeds. There is so much misinformation out there right now, and it’s incredibly harmful. Anything you can fact-check or debunk is a huge help. However, proceed with caution. Make sure your fact-checking is accurate and you’re not just adding to the sea of misinformation.
If you are able to drive, protestors might need support through rides. Public transportation, depending on the city you are in might not be the most reliable or safe thing right now, so having a safe ride away from the protests if need be is crucial. I wrote my phone number on my boyfriend in Sharpie this morning when he went out to protest. This great advice from Twitter ensures that no matter what happens he and our friends can contact me for any reason if they need it.
This one sounds kind of silly, but it’s actually important. If you are unable to participate in protests, you can always make signs for protestors. It takes time and energy to do, and if you don’t have protestors in your household use social media to see if anyone in your area needs signs made. It’s helpful, I promise.
Childcare is another excellent way to help out protestors. Not all children are old enough to be able to go out and protest with their families. Someone’s got to stay home with the kids to allow everyone else to protest. Offer childcare services to protestors if that is a thing you are able to do.
Make sure if you are living with protestors that when they come home, you hold emotional space open for them. Protesting can be incredibly emotionally charged and often traumatic. Keep that in mind and expect that emotion when protestors come home.
What You Can Do To Help Forever
The systemic problems this country is facing are not going to go away when the protests die down. There are also some things you can do in the long term to support oppressed communities, specifically the Black community when this is all over.
Call or email your congresspeople. Make your voice heard. Make sure those in power know how you feel about what’s happening in America right now. If you can’t be out making your voice heard through protest, it doesn’t mean your voice doesn’t matter. Use it.
In that same vein, it is important that we hold elected officials accountable. This means voting in state and local elections, as well as the more “major” ones. Vote out any government officials who allow injustice to flourish. Vote out anyone who does not represent your values. Just vote.
This one is a biggie. One of the best things you can do right now from home is to educate yourself on race, racial issues, and the Black Lives Matter movement. Fellow white people, it is not the responsibility of black people to educate us on these issues. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves. There are tons of books and documentaries on race out there that you can use to learn about the complex systemic issues at work right now.
Support black-owned businesses and artists. We live in a capitalist society and our economy is a powerful system. Every single person can help support the black community by supporting black businesses. Buy stuff, watch movies, read books, and listen to music created by black people to help eliminate the hardships black businesses and creators disproportionately face.
Lastly, this is another one for my fellow white people. Call out your friends for racist behavior. Do not let that shit slide anymore, ever. For any reason. That’s it.