Having gradually become used to the sight of emptied streets, it is shocking to see them suddenly so full. And, in contrast to the selfishness of those who failed to heed public health advice in the preceding months, these are congregations expressing solidarity, and truly in pursuit of a greater good.
Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark and powerful reminder of our shared humanity, it has also provided a reminder that vulnerability is not distributed equitably. Income inequality, food insecurity, environmental injustice, and numerous other factors have contributed to disproportionately high suffering amongst Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities throughout the pandemic. And then came the merciless and unjustifiable killing of George Floyd in a Minneapolis street. An echo of too many needless deaths, which has resulted in widespread protest across the United States and in countries around the world.
It’s difficult to imagine a more urgent, just cause for which to come together even when to do so has become anathema. That these protests are occurring over the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre is but one grim reminder of the persistence of racial inequality and systemic racism.
In the first days of the protests I didn’t feel as though I had a great deal to contribute save for my attention. However, it has begun to feel as though silence is a shade of apathy, and so this post exists as a simple acknowledgment of — and declaration of support for — the cause of racial justice and equality. In addition to which, I wanted to share a handful of ways in which anyone and everyone can help.
In the immediate term, if you would like to make a monetary contribution you can use tools like this to find effective organisations to donate to, or perhaps split a donation across more than 70 community bail funds. You can also help simply by buying yourself some music from Bandcamp on 19 June: details here.
If you don’t have money to spare, but you have some time, you could watch this 10 minute video; listen to this podcast; or turn your next movie night into a documentary night with suggestions like these. In addition to which – at the very least – you can use your social platforms to listen to and amplify black voices.
When you are able to invest more time, it is my unflagging belief that ignorance is powerless in the face of books. Here are some that I can personally vouch for, and which I feel have helped to broaden my own understanding:
- Frederick Douglass – Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845);
- Zora Neale Hurston – Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937);
- Richard Wright – Black Boy (1945);
- Toni Morrison – Beloved (1987);
- Ta-Nehisi Coates – Between the World and Me (2015)1
I’d also point you to excellent lists like this one and this one by people who are far better educated on the subject.
The sheer scale of problems like these can engender feelings of helplessness. But fatalistic acceptance of the status quo as intractable is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the most effective cure for feelings of helplessness, is to do whatever little you can to help.
I published a brief review back in 2016. ↩︎