June 8, 2020

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Hey everyone, it’s been a minute since I’ve had time to write, and it’s also taken me a while to know what I wanted to say in this space. The past two weeks of action for racial justice have been devastating, inspiring, and a chance to courageously imagine a future without police violence, without police as our go-to for all community issues.

I hope you read with an open mind and a soft heart. Breonna Taylor was about my age, and that detail keeps haunting me. I’m certainly not an expert on anti-racism work but I want to keep doing it, and I hope you join me and hold me accountable to it.

  1. How Much do US Cities Spend on Policing? (Infographic), Forbes. So this source is a few years old but some of us are visual learners and I found this illuminating. The data came from a report “compiled by The Center for Popular Democracy, Law for Black Lives and the Black Youth Project 100, [which] makes the case that investment in mental health, housing, youth development and living wages would stabilize communities and prove more effective than policing.”
  2. From Michael Brown to George Floyd: What We’ve Learned About Policing, The Marshall Project. Good, short read that will catch you up on policing since Ferguson. Includes links to every story they reference. This stuck out to me: “A contributing factor to excessive use of force by police is the increasing militarization of many police departments. For decades, the Defense Department has been passing surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies—for free and with little scrutiny. Think grenade launchers, machetes and bayonets. Many of the military-grade weapons were deployed in Ferguson, where police used weapons of war against protesters.The Obama administration banned the program after the waves of protest following police tactics in Ferguson; President Donald Trump reinstated it.” WHY would the police need bayonets?
  3. Tear Gas Doesn’t Deploy Itself, The New Republic. “The most egregious offender to date is The New York Times, which is leaning on a tried-and-true favorite: passive voice. Passive voice removes a subject from the focus of a sentence, instead choosing to look at the action or reaction caused by the subject. Effectively, when describing something like the protests, it’s a way to evasively describe who, exactly, is causing the violence.” Plus haven’t you ever taken an English 101 class? Passive voice is WEAK writing. Here’s more from that source: “As both social media and the evening news are staple sources for people looking for real-time updates, it is necessary to ensure that when people turn to these sources, the framing is not just fair but correct. Equating militarized police units armed with tanks, lethal and nonlethal guns, and riot gear with protesters standing against the violence doled out by them is not just cowardice but an intentional distortion of reality.” Her final sentence sums it up: “People are protesting racist policing in dozens of cities and towns across the country, and police officers themselves remain the largest source of violence in these protests.”
  4.  “White Family Facebook Drama Over Police Racism,” Captain Awkward. The Captain always has the best combination of word and deed in her advice. “Hey, look, as a white person who likes to know things, explain things, and be good at school, I know that the catching up we individually and collectively need to do on the subject of racism can feel like those anxiety dreams where you are sitting for a final exam for a course you don’t remember even registering for, sweating bullets over your blue book while the clock ticks loudly down to the time where Everyone Will Be Able To See That You Don’t Know The Answers. […] [Black people] are experts on shit that we just admitted we don’t really understand! We just showed up yesterday! Let’s do it their way! That is our urgent project, right now. Lives depend on it. We have power to help and a duty to fight in solidarity. […] Black people have imagined, articulated, designed, and advocated for multiple visions and concrete plans, adaptable in real time, for what needs to happen next to shift the balance of power away from white supremacy and make their communities safer, happier, freer, healthier, and more prosperous. Right now. Today. The right things to do next are not only knowable, they are known. You don’t have to become the world’s foremost expert on this topic, you just have to listen to the ones we already have and follow their lead.” There’s so much good stuff in this link, I hope you click through and check it out!
  5. We defend ourselves so we can all breathe in peace, Roar. “There has to be something or someone to nourish, protect, bailout, educate, house and provide healthcare for those in need, since the state is clearly more interested in killing those it deems undeserving of care and aid. That someone is all of us. And all of this should be done in ways that directly challenge the capitalist logic of moneymaking and profiteering. These are rights that we are afforded by birth, not something we should have to be able to afford based on the state of a manipulated economy.” And this is another great quote: “We all have to find our place and our purpose whether we are teaching, planning, organizing, caring, cooking or creating art. Not everyone will be in the streets, but some will, and people should not do anything they are not ready, trained, or prepared to do. There is not a single correct way to protest, and authorities will attempt to divide us by trying to shift blame to those who embrace radical tactics, as Black people have done historically. We can all learn new things, but we should be aware that this is not about any of us as individuals, it is about all of us together.”

Couple places to donate, with a Maryland focus:

  • Baltimore Safe Haven, a black, trans-led nonprofit harm-reduction to support Baltimore’s most vulnerable LGBTQ community members. Their Facebook page has the most recent updates on services during the pandemic, including free lunches, syringe exchange programs, and Zoom community check-ins.
  • Baltimore Legal Action Team (BALT), you can choose to direct your funds to a few different categories: advocacy, management of a community bail fund, litigation, and research.
  • I Believe In Me, a non-profit in Frederick focused on mentoring young people “through mental, physical, and social activities that foster self respect and respect for the world around them.” My dad and I ran their 5k last year, and that’s how we heard of them! Here’s their Facebook page, which has more recent updates.
  • The Loveland Foundation, a national organization dedicated to helping fund therapy for Black women and girls.

5 cute or funny TikTok videos as a reward for making it this far:

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