We Have to do Something to Combat Racial Injustice, but what?

We said black lives matter

We never said only black lives matter

We know all lives matter

We just need your help with black lives matter for black lives are in danger

There has never been a greater need for change and compassion in the current moment. Our fellow humans are dying at an alarming rate, and the ones remaining are facing uncertain futures. Coronavirus. Employment scarcity.  Reversal of environmental protection. Police brutality. Rioting, looting and anarchy in the streets. It feels as if our country is burning to the ground.

What are we to do in such tumultuous times? 

Many people have taken to Facebook to discuss their outrage. They have changed their profile picture in solidarity and discussed the injustice with those that are similarly minded. Every business I’ve ever been on a contact list for is sending an email with a statement that they condemn racism.

But is that enough to affect real change? 

Frankly, I’ve written this because I don’t know. All I do know is that I feel worried and anxious. Worried that there is a right way to do things and maybe I haven’t discovered what that is. Anxious that, assuming my worries were true, it would mean I was not doing the right thing. So I wanted to start a conversation with you, not as a business owner who is making noise for the sake of marketing, but as a person who is struggling and wants to do the right thing. 

So I wanted to share with you a few simple actions that I believe all of us are capable of, and will affect more change than these mere words.

Embrace your expertise.

Everyone is good at something. For instance, I am a total nerd when it comes to math, taxes, finance or science fiction. But does my expertise have any bearing on the current situation? It does, oddly enough. I can use my expertise to reject any investment profit coming from the migrant detention or prison industry. I can refuse to take a blind bribe and educate others to do the same. It is an easy thing to overlook. After all, when you look at your investment portfolio the only thing you see is statistics and ticker symbols. But by embracing my expertise, I can stop others from sabotaging their own goals and unconsciously profiting from inequality. Even if it is a small impact, all of our expertise will eventually make a difference. 

Support non-profits that will continue the fight even after the media has moved on. 

I was in Los Angeles during the Rodney King Riots. Black Lives Matter might be a new slogan, but the sentiment remains the same. Everyone was outraged then, and are outraged now, but it feels as if we subdued our outrage somewhere in between. Maybe it was simply the act of our everyday lives getting in the way. Our own challenges can be enough to shut us down to the outside world. But even in those times of challenge, we can outsource our effort and give others the means to carry on the work for us. When we can’t give our physical support, giving our financial support is the best way to reward the good we want to see in the world.  

Write your state and local officials.

Systemic changes cannot happen overnight. Often, we need the support of the legal and political system to guide the way forward. And frankly, elected officials are unlikely to care about your opinion without actually knowing you. Make them know you. Write to them, let them know that you take your right to vote seriously. Let them know what issues affect you most and are most important to determining who will represent you. You may be a drop of water in a sea of voices, but you can direct yourself to be that persistent drop of water that constantly calls attention to the faucet that needs to be fixed. 

Network with other advocates to get ideas.

These ideas are the product of multiple discussions that I’ve had with the very patient people around me. I don’t always get it right, but I continually try to be open and continue to educate myself where I can. Solutions for inequality are not simply going to present themselves, but by networking with others we can hope to streamline the process. This statement is a part of that networking. You’ve arrived here because either myself or someone you care for has invited you to read it, someone who feels you can be a positive force for change. I encourage you not only to reflect on these humble suggestions, but continue the conversation. How can we do better? How can we come together to figure out how to do the right thing? What ACTIONS can we generate above and beyond these conversations? I want this list to get longer, and I simply can’t do this alone. Positive change needs your participation. I invite you to start this conversation with me or share this letter to start the conversation with the people around you. We can only do this if we do it together, and if any of this message resonates, we certainly need you.