Some cities across the nation are entering their third week of protesting in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, but some people are still convinced the movement is slowing itself down. Seeing feeds return to normal and no longer being inundated with protest imagery on the same basis as the past few weeks can definitely give the illusion that things are slowing down, but we’re here to remind you they’re sure as hell not. So how do you politely talk to others about keeping the movement alive and well? We got you covered.
Firstly, focus on the choice of verbiage – when people say something along the lines of “When will this movement be over?”, take the time to remind them what a movement is. A movement requires long term change to occur, and it cannot be surmised to a mere moment in history. Look at the Civil Rights Movement, a movement we are arguably still in – peaceful protests, boycotts, and iconic speeches took place over the course of 1954 to 1968. That’s 14 years of work put in simply to achieve voting rights and rid the country of segregation. The Suffragette movement, though problematic in its own right, took time too, with the historic Seneca Falls Convention occurring in 1848 and voting rights not being granted to women until 1920. For long term change to occur, long term effort must be put in.
One common statement being tossed around is, “They arrested the guys, what else do you want?” Well, this is loaded for a number of reasons. Firstly, acknowledge that without a week or so of protesting, we don’t know if all four officers involved in George Floyd’s case would have been arrested at all. Secondly, you can point to Minneapolis’s vow to reform police and include more community facing organizations. But of course, this is just speaking in context of the George Floyd case. Remind the people around you that this extends beyond George Floyd – we still need justice for Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Abery, and all other victims of police brutality and white supremacy in this country. Until the list stops growing and until justice has been served for those passed, the movement is far from over.
That said, will people be protesting to this magnitude for years? We frankly have no way of knowing, but a movement does not end when protests do. In fact, this movement in particular requires many people to reflect on their personal actions and beliefs in culmination with larger governmental change (which is your formal reminder to VOTE!). For non-Black people and particularly for white people, the movement continues at home. Outside of protesting, donating, and singing petitions, what will you do to keep the movement alive in your world? Start with purposefully supporting Black owned small businesses over large corporations – it’s an incredibly easy step and directly positively impacts the Black community. Offline, take time to constantly educate yourself and any misinformed family or friends. For Black folks, these conversations are often draining, but frankly, it’s not their job. As an ally, make one of your priorities educating those around you, suggesting books, and popping on documentaries – if you don’t let the conversation stop, how can the movement stop?
See below for more descript ways non-Black people can socially transition into a more long term movement.
Feature Image via Vanessa Granda