The clearest message coming out of the #BlackLivesMatter protests in the US is that we all need to take responsibility. Change can't happen unless the majority of people respond to the call - but how can you do that? What can you do, within your personal or work life, that will help facilitate a shift?
Twitter has this week provided some guidance on this, listing a series of guides and pointers to help people better understand and respond to the call.
As explained by Twitter:
"The recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and George Floyd, and the victimization of Christian Cooper have left many of us angry, and with a deep sense of grief. Now is a time to take care - and take action. Now is a time for #Allyship."
Twitter says that, in order to respond, people first need to "understand the historical and structural contexts that have led to racism and discrimination".
To help with this, Twitter suggests these resources:
- Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen
- How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
- “Who gets to be afraid in America?” by Ibram X. Kendi
- Anti-Racism Resource Guide
Twitter has also provided a range of additional, contextual resources and guides in this tweet thread:
Racism does not adhere to social distancing.— Twitter Together (@TwitterTogether) May 29, 2020
Amid the already growing fear and uncertainty around the pandemic, this week has again brought attention to something perhaps more pervasive: the long-standing racism and injustices faced by Black and Brown people on a daily basis. ???? pic.twitter.com/8zKPlDnacY
Developing an understanding of the systemic processes that have lead to the current state is key in gaining true perspective on the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and the more people are educated on these elements, the better placed we'll be to enact effective change in our systems.
Twitter also provides some practical advice for people looking to approach the situation with colleagues and friends.
- Understand that answering questions takes emotional labor - be mindful of safe spaces and make sure you’ve done your personal learning before you ask a Black person to share with you.
- Approach questions with empathy and in a way to understand people’s lived experiences. Do not approach asking questions from a place of disbelief. Some questions you could ask include:
- “If you have the time/energy, do you feel comfortable sharing your experience with me?”
- “This week is heavy. How are you feeling/coping?”
Twitter also suggests that people consider donating to organizations fighting for racial justice and police reform to help further the cause. Twitter also advises people against re-sharing pictures and videos of violence perpetrated against Black people.
"While we may want to increase awareness, such media can be triggering and retraumatizing."
And importantly, Twitter has called on people so speak up:
"In meetings, on social media, in conference calls, in chats with friends and family. In your circle, create more allies. Address anti-Black sentiments when you see them and discuss the violence and injustice that Black communities face."
These are some helpful notes, which can be particularly beneficial for those who are not directly impacted by racial injustice, but want to ensure that they're helping to address the situation, where possible.
There's no easy way to tackle such concerns, and taking the time to read and understand the context is key. That also makes it a bigger challenge to communicate the depth of such divides, as it requires effort on the part of those not affected, but as has been made clear by the protest actions across the world this week, change is needed. Everyone has the right to feel safe and equal within society, and if we can contribute to that, we should.
And you can contribute, as per Twitter's pointers.
You can read Twitter's full #Allyship overview here.