#BlackLivesMatter. PERIOD.

by Rachael Deng, #FTPCA Marketing

This article was originally published at Free the Period.

Credits: @loveless_designs/Instagram

We’ve tried over and over to describe this trying time. But after countless attempts, the best way to capture America’s present situation remains the simplest. Three words: Black lives matter. Three more: take action now.

Affirming our support for Black Americans and taking concrete action against police brutality is long overdue. We must shift the narrative to the people at the center of the United States’ historically-entrenched, systemic racism — a system that, unless immediately dismantled, will continue to rear its ugly head in both conscious and subconscious ways.

Free The Period believes that no one should ever be discriminated against on biological grounds — all human beings are born equal, with the same rights and dignity. That’s why it is fundamentally wrong to shame or limit menstruators just because they have a period. We also understand the intersectionality of race discrimination and menstrual inequity, contributing to the unique struggles of Black menstruators. Thus, we are committed to centering the Black community in our work.

As part of our efforts towards justice for the Black community, we would like to share a list of resources, both for educational and advocacy purposes, so that you can participate in this movement as actively as possible. This list is by no means comprehensive, so keep following and sharing content on social media — Black Lives Matter is not a trend. It is a fight to restore humanity.

So don’t hesitate any longer! Here’s how you can start contributing:

  1. Educate yourself to become a better ally
  2. Exercise your voting rights
  3. Start meaningful conversations
  4. Demand justice from policymakers
  5. Donate to bail funds and important initiatives
  6. Support black-owned businesses
  7. Continue to share resources even after the outrage lessens

Masterlists

Before we share specific resources to act upon each of the six items listed above, here are some amazing, comprehensive compilations of information and action items covering all of the main steps:

If you’re looking for an all-in-one, detailed resource to follow daily and share with your network, these materials are fantastic!

1. EDUCATE: Become a Better Ally

Ending racial injustice requires us to acknowledging the difficult truth about the ways race has impacted society, and challenge the stigma surrounding conversations about race. Apart from societal prejudices, the American education system has failed to adequately educate students about African-American history, contributing to gross misconceptions about racial issues. For those of us outside of the Black community, we can never feel the precise pain that these individuals have faced; thus, we must strive to understand and empathize with their experiences.

So as soon as you can — drop everything that isn’t immediately urgent — start informing yourself about all of the social injustices that Black Americans have faced throughout history. From there, you will be able to command more impact with your voice as you speak up against racism and encourage others to engage in active allyship as well.

Credits: @elisaaale/Instagram

Read

Credits: @spacetospeakorg/Instagram

Watch

Additionally, make sure to participate in YouTuber Zoe Amira’s video crowdfunding project, which everyone can financially contribute to without spending any money. Amira’s hour-long video features music, poetry, and art from black artists, with 100% of the ad revenue going directly to bail funds, victims’ families, and advocacy organizations. To maximize revenue:

  • Disable all ad-blockers and don’t skip any ads
  • Don’t mute the video (the tab can be muted if necessary, though)
  • Prevent repeat views from being marked as spam by watching 3–5 other videos between streams
“how to financially help BLM with NO MONEY/leaving your house (Invest in the future for FREE)” by Zoe Amira

Listen

2. VOTE: Enforce Legislative Change

How do we stop racism, something that has persisted for centuries, dead in its tracks? How do we make America a country whose citizens — each and every one of them — are able to live without fear of being wrongfully criminalized, injured, or even killed by authorities?

One of the most powerful ways is also one of the easiest: vote. In his article “How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change”, former President Barack Obama stresses the importance of exercising your voting rights in all election races.

The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable… But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.

By voting, we ensure that the governing body of our country is acting in the best interests of the entire population. We can defund the police and ensure those funds are reallocated for community benefit. Voting influences much more than eliminating racism alone; public policy shapes so much of our society, from education to health. The graphic below illustrates just how systemic racism has impacted health outcomes for the Black community amidst the COVID-19 pandemic:

Credits: @ohhappydani/Instagram

3. DISCUSS: Start Conversations

All of us have to hold ourselves accountable for taking the initiative to learn, understand, empathize, and acknowledge our past mistakes and misconceptions. For some people, this can be very uncomfortable and confusing — which is why we should do our part to encourage everyone around us, and give those in need an extra push. We all have a voice; it’s prime time to use it and start meaningful conversations with those around us.

Cultural and Generational Divides

While racism in America has been strongly influenced by white supremacy, we cannot deny that non-Black POC have often been complicit in anti-Blackness as well. Historical prejudices ingrained in certain cultures can make the road to understanding racial inequality much more complex, especially when older generations have lived with such biases for such a long time.

For this reason, Letters for Black Lives was started by several hundred Asian Americans, who jointly authored an open letter explaining Black Lives Matter and the significance of solidarity with African Americans. Available in a diversity of languages, it’s an optimal way to start discussions with “Mom, Dad, Uncle, Auntie, Grandfather, Grandmother”.

When approaching your loved ones, a guide such as “How to Talk to Your Parents About Black Lives Matter” can also be great for preparation and leading the conversation. Moreover, here is a short list of culturally-specific articles regarding the importance of supporting Black Lives Matter:

Checking In

While it is an uneasy time for all of us, the people hit hardest by the present situation are often part of the Black community. They have felt anger, grief, and fear for their lives for far too long. If you can, reach out to your Black friends, family, neighbors, colleagues; provide support and solidarity to push through these emotionally-charged, traumatic times. Let them know you care, and ask them how you can better uplift their voices.

Beyond your network, you can also give strength and warmth to criminalized survivors of abuse and violence through the Letter Writing Action Center. Many of these individuals feel isolated and trapped, and have affirmed their appreciation for supportive letters while incarcerated.

4. ADVOCATE: Demand Justice

A key resource that has been circulating around social media and other Internet outlets is this Black Lives Matter Carrd, which gives you quick access to ways you can help the movement. It’s a wonderful, regularly-updated resource to utilize and share for demanding justice immediately.

There are many texting (left image), calling (right image), and emailing campaigns to join in on and engage decision-makers (please right-click and “Open in New Tab” to zoom in on contact info):

Credits: @spacetospeakorg/Instagram

Here are organizations to support in addition to Black Lives Matter:

Credits: @goodgoodgoodco/Instagram

Protests

To start, it’s important to know your rights as a protestor. The ACLU provides a clear outline for you to familiarize yourself with your speech rights, and learn how to proceed if you think that your rights have been violated.

If you’re joining local protests in your area, remember to abide by basic principles of safety; we cannot forget that the world is still fighting a major pandemic as well. Vox’s “How to more safely protest in a pandemic” is a great guide to follow so you can participate in public activism while limiting the spread of COVID-19 at mass gatherings.

Petitions

Email templates

5. DONATE: Fund BLM Initiatives

For a movement as universal as Black Lives Matter, all of us should try to donate if we can. As this article and Zoe Amira’s video have shown, there are many ways to help without costing a cent; however, every dollar donated counts. It’s especially important to support bail funds, in order to release individuals incarcerated on bail, many of whom have been detained due to their participation in BLM protests.

Donating to individually-organized projects and funds is also important — please refer to the linked masterlists above and search on Google to donate to more Venmo, Cashapp and GoFundMe initiatives.

Key Funds/Organizations

Venmo Accounts

  • @lalyn-yu: all funds and proceeds for buying supplies for those on the front lines in Minnesota
  • @blackearthfarms: delivering free food to Black individuals who have been arrested and bailed, jailed, or traumatized during Oakland uprisings; also supporting bail funds and medical resources for protestors
  • @Peoples-Programs: People’s Breakfast Oakland, a Black grassroots organization providing bail assistance across Alameda County
  • @spiritbirdsie: providing free meals to Black people in LA who are in need of food/nourishment
  • @BailOutNYCMay: Free Them All For Public Health, which is raising money to free protesters who have been arrested in New York

6. SUPPORT: #BuyBlack and Assist Repairs

Historically, Black Americans have been unable to improve their quality of life through financial means — they have been failed by job creation, public health, and many other factors. In particular, most are barred from achieving success through stock market investing, a major generator of wealth.

How can we help? We need to redistribute wealth in America over the long term. To start, supporting Black-owned businesses is imperative. From restaurants to fashion brands, #BuyBlack however you can:

While protests are important for raising awareness, many gatherings have turned violent, both injuring protestors and damaging storefronts. Many businesses have also been subject to vandalism and theft. For large corporations such as Target, which has been a major target of looting, the losses are relatively easy to absorb. However, the same cannot be said for small, independent businesses — many of which have already been struggling for months due to closures and decreased foot traffic from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, we must do our best to fund repair efforts and keep small businesses afloat in this difficult time.

7. PERSEVERE: Continue the Activism

Even after the outrage over the death of George Floyd and countless others has begun to die down, we can’t stop our efforts. Continue to practice as much of the above as possible, and consistently reflect on your actions and thoughts. This Instagram post by @jezzchung poses insightful questions to keep in mind, in the long term:

  • In what ways does my proximity to whiteness afford me privileges that aren’t extended to Black and Brown people?
  • In what ways have I been conditioned to believe in the superiority of whiteness?
  • In what ways have I engaged in rhetoric that promotes othering or stereotyping of Black people?
  • What can I do to better educate myself on the historical context of race in the country and community I exist in?

As you advocate, keep up with resources such as 8 Can’t Wait, a database project started by Campaign Zero to tracks major cities’ employment of eight policies that are proven to curtail police violence.

Above all else, remember to use your platform to speak up. It’s the best way to raise awareness and help a movement continue to gain traction. From educating others to sharing the work of Black creators, take every opportunity you have to challenge systemic racism, classism, sexism and privilege.

Credits: @IjeomaOluo/Twitter

If you liked this article, please like our Facebook page, check out our LinkedIn, and follow us at @freetheperiodca on Instagram! To learn more about our coalition, visit us at freetheperiodca.org. And keep tuning in for more content and updates on Medium!

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Rachael Deng

Rachael Deng

Is loving writing a personality trait?… I'm a designer and startup founder, makeup/skincare junkie, foodie, and published poet! Almost always smiling :)