Luke Combs and Eric Church spent a second week atop the Billboard airplay chart with “Does To Me.” No one cares.
We are a nation of frayed nerves and boiling tempers right now, and it’s hard to know where to begin after the week we’ve just lived through. On top of a pandemic that has killed over 105,000 Americans and thrown at least forty million people out of work, the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin—the latest in a long line of deaths of African Americans via police brutality, and an especially gruesome scene involving Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes—have moved thousands of people to take to the streets to voice their anger and frustration at a broken system.
I made a brief statement about Floyd’s death on Saturday, but the more I look back on that post, the weaker and more platitude-filled it reads. It declares that “We talk about [racial inequality] a lot, but we never seem to have the guts to follow through and actually address it”…and then fails to offer any avenues to address the problem itself, outside of “Let’s work together to make sure no one else gets treated like that ever again.” It’s certainly not the most helpful set of instructions in the world.
So what can we do to make a difference? How can we turn all this anger that we feel into true progress?
- We can donate. You can put your money where your mouth is by donating to organizations working to support activists and achieve racial equality. You can donate directly to organizations such as Black Lives Matter, or you can follow the links compiled by others below:
- We can protest. Everyone’s voice is needed more than ever right now, and while standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a mass of screaming people is risky in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, if you feel strongly enough to join them, there are things you can do to help lower the risks to you and to others around you. Wear cloth face masks to avoid spreading the disease to others, try to maintain proper social distancing as much as possible, and use signs or instruments to make your point instead of chanting or singing (or perhaps use megaphones to increase your volume without increasing vocal stress). If you’re not comfortable being around crowds right now, you can still sign petitions or voice your support on social media, though I’d encourage you not to stop there.
- We can support creators of color in our community. If you have a platform, you can put creators and artists of color in front of your audience and increase their visibility, such as Zack Kephart and Derrick Bitner have done today. If you don’t, you can still go out and support entrepreneurs of color who are operating in your community.
- We can vote. This is a big one, because if we want change, we need to put people in power who are dedicated to making that change happen. Start by demanding that the people asking for your vote take a stand to put an end to things like providing warrior training and military weapons for law enforcement, and ask about policies like a $15 minimum wage and expanded health care options to address pay gaps and health-care disparities. (For what’s it worth, Joe Biden has pledged to introduce legislation for some of these ideas if elected.) We can’t just focus on national politics either: As President Obama pointed out, “the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.” It’s up to us to make those who wish to govern clarify their positions on these matters, and hold them accountable while they are in power.
Above it all, we as a people need to draw a line in the sand and set a standard for the proper treatment of others. Letting longstanding racial disparities fester instead of fixing them is not okay. Having police departments brutalize the very people they’re sworn to protect is no okay. Using racially-coded language like “thugs” and the use of “vicious dogs” while discussing protesters is not okay. As a country, we need to be better than this, and must start looking for solutions rather than excuses.
The pulse of America may be shaky right now, but I believe a strong heart still beats underneath it. If we make a conscious decision to lift this country out of the dregs of racism and ignorance we’re laying in, we have to power to construct a society in which we not only say that all people are created equal, but we actually mean it.
The blog will return eventually return to its regularly-scheduled programming (oh joy, a new Walker Hayes single is coming out…), but America will not, and frankly, it shouldn’t. There’s a lot of work to be done, but a more just and equitable nation is possible if we’re willing to put in the time and effort.