My favorite month of the year is finally here. In my mind, June has always meant freedom. It’s a nostalgic time when the days get longer, the lightening bugs come out, and the weather gets warm enough for those lovely evening strolls. As I grew up, more and more responsibilities stood between me and the adventure, exploration, and limitless possibilities of youth.
No matter how much I had going on, I’ve always managed to find that sweet midsummer magic by squeezing in farmer’s market visits, spontaneous road trips, and al fresco dining (or all’aperto as Italians say) to my increasingly hectic schedule. It’s an extraordinary time where nothing, everything, and anything happens all at once, and that’s why things always seem so hopeful in the summertime.
This June, freedom feels so far out of reach both literally and figuratively with a pandemic and protests happening. Quarantine has been loosely enforced to prevent the spread of COVID, and nationwide protests are calling out the innumerable injustices in American society, especially that of police brutality. It’s uncomfortably ironic that police are firing tear gas at those protesting the suffocation of a man by the police in the midst of a pandemic caused by a respiratory illness.
It’s been getting harder to breathe as the humid heat of the southern summer sets in, but this has always been the unfortunate reality for African Americans. COVID affects black communities disproportionately. Often times, they don’t have the same access to general health resources to begin with. There have been and still are, thinly veiled laws that systematically disfranchise them. They have to be extra cautious in public because of the incessant surveillance and suspicion in regards to their every action. Forget that, they aren’t even safe in their own homes. It’s hard to breathe when you can never let your guard down. It’s hard to breathe when you’re always holding your breath, wondering whether you’ll be next. It’s hard to breathe when you’re forced to contribute to a system that actively works against you.
Despite the increasing tensions, I’m more hopeful than ever. This is the first time I’ve seen all 50 states united in a single cause and truly live up to our name. People of all races are coming together to close the divide that exists in our country. Mexico, Canada, the U.K., Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, New Zealand, Brazil, and even Syria have been protesting in solidarity. Being a human on Earth right now really feels like a fever dream, but it only means that we as a society are revolutionizing for the better.
As we all do our part to educate ourselves, donate to the causes, and have uncomfortable conversations to support the black community, we bring about awareness and advancement. We can use our breath, our words, to speak for those who haven’t been able to, or can no longer speak for themselves. We can give them a platform to breathe new life into an era of everlasting change.
Trying to figure out where to start can be intimidating, so I’ve compiled resources divided into three sections below:
Education, Donation, and Conversation.
Code Switch: “Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby explore how issues of race and identity manifest in every corner of American culture, from music to poetry to sports.”
Yo, Is This Racist?: “Actress and musician Tawny Newsome, writer Andrew Ti, and a weekly guest provide funny-yet-thoughtful responses to voicemails from people wondering whether a given situation is racist. Their responses are honest, hilarious, and kind enough to make callers feel like they can ask awkward or even embarrassing questions.”
Pod Save the People: “A rounding listen those overwhelmed by the endless news, as organizer and activist DeRay Mckesson and his cohosts make sense of it all by taking a closer look at each week’s biggest stories, particularly ones impacting people of color.”
The Stoop: Leila Day and Hana Baba start conversations about what it means to be black and how we talk about blackness. It’s a celebration of black joy with a mission to dig deeper into stories that we don’t hear enough about: experiences like Black introvert, what it’s like to grow up Black in New Zealand, and why “Black people don’t like swimming” is a stereotype.
Scene on Radio: Seeing White: “Where did the notion of ‘whiteness’ come from? What does it mean? What is whiteness for? Scene on Radio host and producer John Biewen took a deep dive into these questions, along with an array of leading scholars and regular guest Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika, in this fourteen-part documentary series.”
We Live Here: “Explores the issues of race, class and power that led to the emotional eruption in the wake of Michael Brown’s shooting death in Ferguson. St. Louis Public Radio reporters Tim Lloyd and Kameel Stanley present podcasts, radio features, web stories and use social media for an in-depth exploration of how systemic racism impacts people as well as the well-being of our region and beyond.”
Atlanta Monster: “A fascinating Atlanta history lesson on how the city struggled to balance plans for growth against the realities of racial tension, politics, and the city’s marginalized Black communities—and how all of that impeded the search for a child killer.”
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard To Talk to White People About Racism by Robin DeAngelo: White people, in particular, have a hard time talking about race. And there are many reasons for that. Break open the history and sociology behind that discomfort with this book that not only exposes what white fragility is and why it exists, but how to confront it and work toward change.
So You Want To Talk About Race by IJeoma Oluo: From why it’s not OK to touch your Black friend’s hair, to how to tell your coworker their joke is racist, to talking about white privilege in general, this book can help us all navigate those difficult conversations. If you’re uncomfortable talking about race, let this book be your guide.
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations about Race by Daniel Tatum: By looking at the psychology of racism and self-segregation, this classic text can help us enable conversation across racial divides. It may help you understand and look honestly at the makeup of your own social structure, too.
Becoming by Michelle Obama: Described by the author as a deeply personal experience, the book talks about her roots and how she found her voice, as well as her time in the White House, her public health campaign, and her role as a mother.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult: The story concentrates on an African American labor & delivery nurse, Ruth Jefferson, in charge of newborns at a Connecticut hospital. Ruth is ordered not to touch or go near the baby of a white supremacist couple. After the baby dies in her care, Ruth is charged with murder, and taken to court.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: The book is narrated by Starr Carter, a 16-year-old black girl from a poor neighborhood who attends an elite private school in a predominantly white, affluent part of the city. Starr becomes entangled in a national news story after she witnesses a white police officer shoot and kill her childhood friend, Khalil. She speaks up about the shooting in increasingly public ways, and social tensions culminate in a riot after a grand jury decides not to indict the police officer for the shooting.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: The novel is about two families living in 1990s Shaker Heights who are brought together through their children and it explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.
Films & shows
13th: Featuring some of the most prominent Black voices in politics and academia, such as Angela Davis and Charlie Rengal, 13th should be required viewing in schools across America as it dives deep into the 13th Amendment to the Constitution — and the mass criminalization and the American prison industry that resulted from it.
If Beale Street Could Talk: Tish and her fiancé Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt have big plans for their future — until Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. If Beale Street Could Talk is directed by Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and stars Regina King, Stephan James, and Teyonah Paris.
The Color of Beauty: “Renee Thompson is trying to make it as a top fashion model in New York. She’s got the looks, the walk and the drive. But she’s a black model in a world where white women represent the standard of beauty. Agencies rarely hire black models. And when they do, they want them to look “like white girls dipped in chocolate.” It’s a shocking short documentary that examines racism in the fashion industry. Is a black model less attractive to designers, casting directors and consumers? What is the colour of beauty?”
Atlanta: A dramedy that stars Glover as Earnest Marks, a college dropout who takes charge of his cousin Alfred’s (Brian Tyree Henry) rap career, and follows the pair as they navigate the Atlanta rap scene.
When They See Us: It is based on events of the 1989 Central Park jogger case and explores the lives and families of the five male suspects who were falsely accused then prosecuted on charges related to the rape and assault of a woman in Central Park, New York City.
Fruitvale Station: “Based on the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant, a young man who was killed in 2009 by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale district station of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in Oakland.”
Selma: “Selma is about the Selma to Montgomery marches that were held in Selma, Alabama in 1965 and which led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — which prohibits racial discrimination in voting. David Oyelowo was spectacular to watch in the lead role of Martin Luther King, the iconic, Mahatma Gandhi-inspired civil rights activist.”
donation & Petition
Here are some links to places you can donate:
Black Lives Matter
Justice for Breonna Taylor
Darnella Frazier GoFundMe: “The brave young woman who filmed the murder of George Floyd, deserves peace and healing. In addition to the trauma of watching a black man be murdered by police, she has had to deal with trolls, bullies and ignorant people harassing her online… Darnella played an important one and should be uplifted, not shamed. Something broke. This country will never be the same. And in the midst of our rage and pain, we cannot let this young black woman become a casualty. “
Unicorn Riot: A decentralized media organization that has focuses on primary source reporting and on-the-ground coverage of protests.
Atlanta Solidarity Fund: For bail funds. As of now they have enough funds for immediate bailing needs, but future donations will be used to support people after they’ve been bailed out for things such as drawn or court cases or other fees.
Atlanta Black Owned Business Relief
Metro Atlanta Mutual Aid Fund: A local fund to support people of color who have been impacted by COVID-19.
Here is a mega collection of recent events you can read, places you can donate to, people you can call, petitions you can sign, and various other resources.
Here is an extensive list of black-owned businesses in Atlanta compiled by some awesome ATLiens.
Here is a giant spreadsheet of resources nationally that includes legal service providers, bail funds, memorial funds, and other things people can do to help.
If you’re unable to donate, you can still contribute by watching these videos. They’re a few of many that are filled with ads and the proceeds will go to several different causes.
Some tips for watching:
– Watch through the Youtube app and not in a playlist or a browser app.
– Do NOT put on loop or repeat once it’s done because it’ll be seen as spam and won’t show you ads.
– Watch it through once. Then, watch 3 to 5 videos after of any length. Then, research this video manually and watch it through again. Make sure to watch different videos every time.
– Turn off ad block or Youtube premium (you can make a new account or use an incognito tab)
– Watch on at least 480p and at least half volume. Do NOT pause or fast forward the video.
– Watch through videos and do NOT skip them. You can click on ads as well!
– Comment and like the videos because it will tell YouTube this is something people like, but be careful with your wording, and avoid emojis.
– Do not clear playback or search history.
Letters For Black Lives: https://lettersforblacklives.com/about-the-letter-ed27ea67eb2e
– LFBL is a set of crowdsourced, multilingual, and culturally-aware resources aimed at creating a space for open and honest conversations about racial justice, police violence, and anti-Blackness in our families and communities. There are translated resources in Arabic, Bahasa, Bengali, Portuguese, Chinese, Hindi, Hmong, Farsi, French, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Tegulu, Thai, Urdu, and Vietnamese.
How to talk to Asian Parents about Racism: https://www.instagram.com/p/CA_h-xZBFKQ/
BLM Infographics with Vietnamese Translations: https://blmvietinfo.carrd.co/
Letter for Black Lives with Korean Translations: https://sophiashin.carrd.co/
Resources for Spanish Speakers: https://docs.google.com/document/u/0/d/1-t6J_O80UEBesidFcGYGD-EzH68jKpv6XS6gqiuroA8/mobilebasic
Tagalog Terms to Know When Addressing Anti-Blackness: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBBWyQpB1h0/
Chinese & Taiwanese Terms to Know When Addressing Anti-Blackness: https://www.instagram.com/p/CA8xVwZJoY1/
Japanese Terms to Know When Addressing Anti-Blackness: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBCAXMNA6_g/
Vietnamese Terms to Know When Addressing Anti-Blackness: https://www.instagram.com/p/CA8-61hHJ2M/
Russian Terms to Know When Addresssing Anti-Blackness: https://www.instagram.com/p/CA_Bt-MlwFk/
Tamil Terms to Know When Addressing Anti-Blackness: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBA2kqEDa81/