The racial injustices of black people have become a hot topic across the globe. Social media has played a major role in spreading awareness about racial injustices that have been taking place for several decades. Unfortunately, there has been a cycle of major attention to no attention, with or without justice. The chain of events has remained consistent: a black person is killed, a video or story is shared, cries for justice on social media results in a hashtag trending, oftentimes a protest for justice is held, and then a decline in attention.
This cycle raises the question, how do we move past the hashtags? How can individuals and communities continue efforts to create sustainable justice and reform?
After the unjust killing of Michael Brown, I reconnected with an old travel buddy, Clifton West Jr. (CJ). We hosted an Instagram live and were able to come up with five action steps for sustainable racial justice reform. These steps are for anyone wondering what they can do now and where they can start.
1.Conversation: You can’t control what the entire world losing interest in the need for justice. Starting at home and with your immediate influence is a great way to continue the topic.
2.Stay informed: Holding government and companies accountable to their diversity and inclusion policies. What are the details of “new” policies put in place to end racial injustice? Are there systems in place to support new policies?
3.Educate: Expose the next generation to the real history of the United States and the globe. Encouraging others to expand their knowledge with creditable resources.
4.Culture reform: In all sectors; work, home, government, education. Systemic racism should no longer be the norm.
5.Rest: Prioritizing self care in these times. Burnout is real!
Since the Instagram live session, CJ has turned each step into reality by co-founding the Black Lives Matter (BLM) chapter in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Recognizing a lack of support for the black community in his town, CJ teamed with his co-founder Tanisha Johnson and started the BLM chapter. According to CJ, ignorance, systemic racism, and a culture of silence have been the root of the racial injustices in Portsmouth.
Everyone can play a role in creating sustainable change. CJ has embraced his gift of bringing people together through BLM. Since starting the BLM chapter they have hosted rallies, a gala for their black youth mental health initiative, a school supply drive, and networking events for black-owned businesses. One lesson that CJ has learned and observed is that black people have to unify around the same principles and continue to show up. CJ stated, “Majority of the participants in the BLM rally are white in my town.” Ally support is necessary for sustainable change. But even more important is participation from black people. If rallies aren’t your thing there are several ways to stay involved. From signing petitions, donating, virtually promoting the movement, or participating in a local chapter. Click here to find out more.
To keep the momentum going rest and rejuvenation is key. Having a balance between advocating and taking care of one’s self can be the strongest form of protest. “When you’re in it like I am, it’s not a day, it’s not an hour that I don’t have something on my phone black lives related”, CJ says. “You really have to be selfish and take time for yourself and recharge.”
CJ’S advice for anyone looking to make a change now:
-Start locally and start a conversation where you are with what you have.
-Organize a rally focusing on petition signing or simply show up to rallies.
-The more you connect with people the bigger your network will get.
-Don’t be afraid, but remain smart. Don’t give energy to fear.
-GO FOR IT!