“I can’t breathe”, are the heartbreaking words George Floyd said on May 25, just before he was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer, who was caught on camera with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck for eight long minutes.
For many, this murder echoed the killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Eric Harris, Dreasjon Reed, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Sean Reed and countless other black people recently killed by the police in the United States.
These killings are the tragic events that led to the creation of Black Lives Matter—a generation of black activists, protesting online and on the streets against systemic racism and police violence.
Although Arabs and Muslims are often victims of discrimination and stigmatisation too, racism is still deeply rooted in our societies and is very much visible in the media (ahem, black face). From America to Saudi Arabia, we all can (and should) punish and fight against racism.
Today more than ever, Black Lives Matter need allies. Time has come for non-black people (white, but also brown) to decide which side they are on, take action and hold each other accountable to stop anti-black racism.
Want to know where to start and how? Here are seven ways you can take action and make a difference today.
It all starts with education. Books and movies are a great way to start. Go for Angela Davis if you’re into academic works; and if you prefer Netflix, that’s fine—we suggest Cop Watchers, Seven Seconds and Under Arrest.
Take Action In Your Own Circle
Ever hear your mother say something casually racist? Your friend? Your boss? We know it’s hard and uncomfortable confronting people close to us, but any form of silence is complicity at this point. It’s important that you constantly practice awareness whenever you get the opportunity, because this is how they will understand their behaviour is not okay. We need to break the silence and publicly come out as anti-racists.
Because posting stories on Instagram isn’t always enough to make your voice heard on a higher level, you need to consider taking part in protests, because there’s no time to be on the side-lines.
Lobby to Punish Violent Police Officers
If some police officers are ready to kill innocent black people; who will protect black people from them? Violent police officers need to be punished and removed from their jobs. Online petitions are a great way to spread the message. Click here to sign the petition demanding the officers who killed George Floyd get charged with murder. Defunding the police is also something you should campaign for, calling for money to be used to protect vulnerable communities during the pandemic. Click here if you live in the US and want to find your local group taking action of resource spending.
Want to help the black community in Minneapolis? Consider donating money to on-the-ground organisations who are doing the political work needed. Check out Minnesota Freedom Fund and Black Visions Collective if you can.
Push For Black Representation
Whether it’s in the West or in the MENA region, black people remain woefully under-represented. If you work in the media or the creative industries, make sure you push for greater representation and most importantly, speak out against racist content on television and online.
Record Police Misconduct
Over-sharing videos of police brutality can be counter-productive, particularly as black communities tend to feel greater pain when they recognise themselves in this footage. We encourage commemorating black lives with imagery of black victims alive. However, videos are essential to hold police accountable. If you witness police misconduct and can record, click here to get tips.