By David Dietrich
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Philando Castile. Sandra Bland. Freddie Gray. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. Trayvon Martin.
These are just a handful of the countless black Americans who have unjustly died because of police brutality. We could compile a list of names from the last ten years alone that would continue for pages. Sadly, those would only be the deaths the public knew about. Even more tragic is the fact that we would not have known about these deaths had it not been for the recent developments in video and social media.
At this point, it is painfully obvious that racism still exists in a country that often proclaims itself the greatest in the world. For the past two weeks, I have been asking myself how I can make a difference. In looking for answers, I have discovered many quotes that inspired me to create positive change.
“No justice, no peace,” a common chant at the numerous protests that have broken out in each state across the country and other countries around the rest of the world.
“The man who can’t see isn’t the blindest, it’s the one that chooses not to see,” a sentence in a tweet from NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe (Sharpe, 2020).
“All lives don’t matter until black lives matter,” a phrase I’ve seen on countless signs and throughout social media.
“You have the power to change people’s minds!” a text I received from a friend who has been the victim of racism in America. This was perhaps the most powerful because it reinforced my belief that I could make a difference for the better.
As a white man, I will never be able to fully understand the struggles of black Americans. I have white privilege, which is an essential guarantee my life will not be made more difficult because of my skin color. Unfortunately, this is something I was not aware of until halfway through my college career. However, I now recognize this privilege and I want to use it to make a positive impact.
One thing I have never had to do is fear for my life because of my skin color. Activities that are typically part of everyday life can be safe for white people but dangerous for black people. The picture below is a perfect example of the things white people can do without the fear of being killed or seriously injured.
The most important thing we can do right now is be an anti-racist. It is no longer enough to say, “I’m not racist,” then sit back and do nothing because it doesn’t affect you. That is selfish and ignorant. Be active in the fight against racism. People are hurting, suffering, and dying because of their skin color, and we have the opportunity to support them in their fight. The first step to take in helping is to listen. Listen to your black friends, classmates, colleagues, and community members who have fought an uphill battle their entire lives. While we will never be able to understand what it is like to be in their shoes, we can use our privilege to do everything we can to help.
If you are able, find a reliable and verified organization that is accepting donations for the cause. A simple Google search produces hundreds of families, businesses, justice movements, and bail funds you can donate money to. If you are unable to donate directly, there are YouTube videos that collect revenue based on advertisements. Simply search “Donate BLM,” and select one of the top results. You can play the video in the background as you work on your homework or browse the web, and the money from advertisements will go to the Black Lives Matter fund.
If you have two minutes and Internet access, you can sign online petitions. It costs no money and some websites encourage you to sign multiple petitions in a matter of minutes. If you have the time and resources, attend a protest. Be an ally with those protesting, especially people who face danger because of their skin color.
If you have social media accounts, you can be active in sharing information about protests, donations, and petitions. Do not wait for violence to arise at protests to voice your displeasure; be angry that we still have to protest for basic human rights. Keep in mind, peaceful protests such as kneeling for the national anthem have been vastly criticized and discouraged. Even if protests do not continue at the rate they are now, continue to support the Black Lives Matter movement and be a force for change.
If you see or hear racist comments or jokes in your homes, workplaces, or communities, say something. Silence is not golden. It’s toxic. Speak out and do everything you can to convince people to have a different point of view. The thread below provides answers to some of the tough questions you might be asked in that conversation.
Lastly, I would like to provide everyone with links to two videos from current and former NFL players. After all, this is a website designed to critique sports media. With the current lack of sport, that has become difficult. However, social media has been a wonderful resource, with many high-profile athletes using their platform to make their voices heard and send powerful messages.
First, a video from Emmanuel Acho. a former NFL player and current ESPN analyst. While lengthy, Acho makes some incredible and well-articulated points that each person should have the opportunity to hear.
Next, a video collaboration from several notable NFL players that was posted on multiple Twitter and Instagram accounts.
If you are looking for a way to get started, the website below is a great place.
I have used it to find petitions to sign, videos to watch, and organizations to donate to. If conversations and actions make you uncomfortable, realize that it is needed to create real change. It won’t happen right away, but it will happen with persistence and positive change. We are in the midst of the most important civil rights movement of our lifetimes. It’s time to step up and be better. We can change people’s minds. We can create change. We can make a difference.
Black Lives Matter.
Black Lives Matter. (2020, June 4). Ways To Help. BlackLivesMatter.carrd.co. Retrieved from https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#
PatrickMahomes. (2020, June 4). #StrongerTogether. Twitter.com. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/PatrickMahomes/status/1268724815118163971
ShannonSharpe. (2020, June 4). For Drew Brees not to understand that Colin Kaepernick was never trying to disrespect the flag or the military, although the military had disrespected a lot of black men, goes to show you that the man who can’t see isn’t the blindest, it’s the one that chooses not to see. Twitter.com. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/ShannonSharpe/status/1268568840478179329
thEMANacho. (2020, June 1). Dear white people, For days you’ve asked me what you can do to help. I’ve finally found an answer. Twitter.com. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/thEMANacho/status/1267609472589090816
X2yoon. (2020, June 2). I wrote a thread to help you people that are having conversations respond to difficult questions. Twitter.com. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/X2yoon/status/1267955341968408584