CULTURE, FEATURE STORY

What You Can Do If You’re Not Able to Participate in a Peaceful Protest

I am amazed at how many cities across the country are holding peaceful protests. I’ve been seeing more and more communities coming together to protest against police brutality and seek justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other African Americans who have lost their lives to police violence. 

In the last few days, there have been protests held in the city of Detroit, but other metro Detroit cities are starting to hold protests, too. This makes me happy to see because the more communities that come together, whether it’s a large city or small town, then the more voices are amplified and raise awareness about social injustice issues such as police violence and systemic racism.

But what if you aren’t able to attend a protest? 

4 Ways to Get Involved with Social Justice Issues If You Can't Protest| Justice for George Floyd Protest
A young woman holds a protest sign at the George Floyd protest in Washington, D.C. (Photo Credit: Obi Onyeador)

There are a variety of reasons why some people are not able to participate in a public demonstration. Maybe you have a health condition or you have to work and therefore, you’re not able to participate. I was thinking about this because as much as I want to march in a protest in my local area, unfortunately, I am unable to do so because of my current health condition. 

I know I’m not the only one who isn’t able to protest at this time and who is aching to join their neighbors in their community. (And no judgment at all if you aren’t able to participate.) There are, however, other ways we can stay socially aware and make informed decisions to help make changes in our local and federal government. 

Here are a few ways I have found so far:

READ LITERATURE ON CULTURAL AND SOCIAL JUSTICE TOPICS.

I am gradually purchasing books that cover cultural and social justice topics, particularly related to Black culture. I like to read multicultural books as well as African American literature, but in January, I made a personal goal to read more African American literature. So far, I’m making great progress on my goal! 

I usually check out my reading material from the library, but I felt it was time I started my own personal collection. It’s always nice to have these books on hand for if I want to reread them or if I need a book for a quick reference.

Just a few books I currently own:

NONFICTION

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois

I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World by Martin Luther King, Jr.

FICTION

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America by Various Writers

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

If you’re looking for an extensive list of African American literature, I shared a post in February on 54 Must-Read African American Books recommended by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The list includes fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature.

Here are a few other book recommendations I came across online from other activists, publications, and writers.

Well-Read Black Girl shared on Instagram today their #Blackout Reading List.

TIME shared an article today on “What Else Booksellers and Publishers Say You Should Read.”

Writer Clint Smith shared on his Instagram 12 books he recommends “that discuss how American history and policy have shaped the current landscape of racial inequality, specifically in regard to Black life.”

USA Today’s recommended antiracism book lists looks really good and also includes books for children.

And here’s Black author Ibram X. Kendi’s (Antiracist Baby, How to Be an Antiracist) recommended antiracism book list he shared in the New York Times.


RELATED: WHEN A BLACK WOMAN WALKS INTO A ROOM


TAKE ACTION THROUGH A SELF-EDUCATE AND SELF-CARE MOVEMENT.

This might fall under more of a self-care topic, but I wanted to share this tip because it is helping me learn more about Black women’s history. I think that it can also help prepare one to understand cultural and social justice topics.

Have you heard of GirlTrek? I recently discovered it on Instagram through a friend. Officially launched in 2010, GirlTrek was founded by T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison. It is a public health and self-care movement for Black women which encourages women to exercise through walking, either individually or in walking groups, and to also focus on personal well-being.

The nonprofit group has also organized walking movements to support social justice causes such as the #WeAreHarriet tribute at the National Mall (15,000 people participated in the walk!) and participating in the 50th anniversary Selma to Montgomery Bridge March.

GirlTrek recently started a virtual 21-Day Black History Boot Camp that focuses on walking meditation “to remember where we came from and to gather strength for the road ahead” (GirlTrek on Instagram).

GirlTrek Black History Boot Camp | 4 Ways to Support Black Lives If You Can't Protest
21-Day Black History Boot Camp (Photo Credit: GirlTrek)

I decided to join the boot camp so I can stay motivated to continue walking for my prenatal health and to learn more about historical Black women. 

It’s free to join and right now they’re on the first week of the Black History Boot Camp. Here’s the link if you’d like to join or learn more about it. 

Vote. Vote! VOTE!

In his recent article on Medium, former U.S. President Barack Obama wrote:

“…throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. 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.”

Protests are important. Sharing our voices through public demonstrations, letters to officials, recording videos, and writing articles do help raise awareness of important causes. But just as the president points out, using our voice through voting has great power and helps bring about great change. 

Obama also went on to say it’s important we understand which levels of government we should pay close attention to when voting for change in our criminal justice system and police practices.

He explained, “…the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.”

Here’s a post I shared which features 5 websites to help you with voting.

MAKE MONETARY DONATIONS.

Making a monetary donation to organizations like Black Lives Matter and the NAACP is a great way to show your support. You can also financially contribute to a community bail fund. This is a link to Community Justice Exchange which features a directory of community bail funds.

One of my favorite blogs that I like to read is matching their readers’ donations up to $15,000 to organizations which support Black causes. Here is the information if you’d like to learn more about it.

A few more organizations you can support financially:

ACLU

BlackOUT Collective

Black Youth Project

Color of Change

Fair Fight

Just Speak

Know Your Rights Camp

Love Land Foundation

Mothering Justice

Southern Poverty Law Center

4 Ways to Get Involved with Social Justice Issues If You Can't Protest | Justice for George Floyd Protest | Flint, Michigan
Protesters marching in Flint, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Hayley Catherine)

Although sharing our thoughts and supportive graphics on social media helps spread the word on social justice issues, it is simply not enough. We have to be willing to take on more direct action if we truly want to see positive changes and make a difference. 

I hope these few tips are helpful to you. Please let me know if there are any other ways you know how we can take action.


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Feature image courtesy of Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit. Mural art “Appropriated Not Appreciated” by Detroit artist Sydney G. James.

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