Last night, a friend texted me, "Hey. What are some concrete things I can do for #blacklivesmatter? This just continues..."
If you were ever wondering what you would have done had you been alive during the civil rights movement, well, that movement's successor is happening now, because there's a lot that was left unfixed when it comes to racial inequality. Don't let yourself be limited to this list, but here are a few ideas:
1. Sign I-873 and volunteer to gather signatures. This is the citizen initiative to reform Washington's unusually dangerous deadly force law that makes it all but impossible to prosecute police when they unjustly kill. The families most directly impacted by police violence in Washington are behind it, and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed on as an endorser this week. You can't sign online by law, but if you get in touch with the organizers (here and here) they'll help you find a way to get you an physical petition to sign. They meet every Wednesday at the Seattle Vocational Institute, Room 401 at 6p.m. The initiative needs 250,000 signatures by the end of the year to qualify for the ballot.
2. Put your money where your mouth is. The Black Prisoners Caucus supports African-Americans inside Washington's prisons. Donate and get involved here. Marissa Johnson, a Seattle Pacific University graduate-turned fearless local BLM activist, has a PayPal donate page here. At one point, her day job was nannying, but ever since she interrupted Bernie Sanders last year, she's had to withstand a torrent of online harassment and abuse on a national level. Whatever you think about that incident, she deserves your support. Her latest piece is a must-read on the killing of Alton Sterling, his record of sexual crimes, the complexity of justice, and how Black women are taking on racism and misogyny and police all at the same time.
3. Support reparations. Progressives have made causes out of gay marriage, pot legalization, and gun control in recent years. Reparations should join this roster.
Boatloads of prominent liberals have sung the praises of Ta-Nehisi Coates and his writing in recent years. Many, I'm sure, are having “tough conversations” about the “difficult” issues of racism and white privilege. Remember it was Coates who wrote "The Case for Reparations." He says the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act is “the vehicle” [emphasis added] for moving toward reparations. To begin with, it would merely launch an official study of how to implement them.
Liberals should be organizing and loudly demanding the passage of the reparations commission proposal, and every person celebrating Coates or joining Black Lives Matter protests should be petitioning their congresspeople and senators and the Democratic Party to support reparations. It should be the next big fight.
4. Push for strong civilian oversight of Seattle police: Seattle's mayor rarely criticizes our biggest police union, though that may be beginning to change. Nationally, police unions are lashing out against President Obama's mild, even-handed remarks on Black Lives Matter. So, the unions are a problem, and locally, this one has a terrible posture on questions of racial justice. It once called the city's Race and Social Justice Initiative "an assault on traditional and constitutional American values." This week, the union got in hot water for blaming the tragic killings of Dallas police officers on a "minority movement." Holding Seattle cops accountable means confronting SPOG, but Murray recently gave the union a gift, declining to re-appoint a civilian watchdog. Here's local comedian and activist Brett Hamil's call to action:
"All lives matter" is like screaming "Cure all diseases" at a Breast Cancer 5k. You right, but we running for cancer right now fam.
— Brent Morgan (@BMorganMusic) July 9, 2016