For those of you who are familiar with my book - MAKiN' iT, you know I describe awakenings as significant emotional events. The moment when a young person realizes that they must take responsibility for their own development. Awakenings are powerful moments, such as when someone gets shot or arrested, or when a person finds out they’re unable to graduate. It could be the loss of a relative or significant other, or it could be the diagnosis of a disease. It’s these moments that people realize what survival truly means and commit to making a change—at least for the moment. The problem with these moments is that they are fleeting. The effects last for a few days or a few weeks, but without the right support or perpetual awakenings, many young people settle back into the situation that landed them there in the first place.
Now is a time of another type of awakening - a time when millions of Americans realize that they must take responsibility for the injustice and racism inherent in the fabric of American society. As millions take to the streets and rage out for justice, what happens when the protest ends but the rage still burns hot within?
The MAKiN' iT Nation has created four easy ways that you can fight racism and support true justice when the protests are over.
How can you stand for a cause when you don’t have true knowledge of its origins? Take a bit of time to research the history of racism in America and predominant figures who dedicated their lives to forcing change. Research and understand not just the physical aspect of racism (how it’s acted out), but the psychological aspect as well (the mental and emotional causes and reactions of racism.) We suggest starting with Jason Reynold and Ibram X. Kendi’s book Stamped. This book will help you better understand the origins of racism and how it evolved to what is today.
Armed with the knowledge of racism, you can take to social media and speak out. We’re not talking about a few posts with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Do something more meaningful and write up a heartfelt piece on how the current situation in America has affected you and what you plan to do about it. Written pieces like these tend to garner a lot of attention. The rage you feel during a protest, let it pour out on paper. You can post this piece just about anywhere (Wordpress, Youtube, Twitter thread, Facebook, etc.) This will help spark conversation and get dozens of people talking about what really matters.
It is a fact that changes start at home. Instead of trying to take on the nation as a whole, start within your own community. Create a group in your neighborhood that allows young people to come together to discuss and understand police brutality and racism. This can help members of your community deal with their anger in a productive manner while also becoming educated about social injustices. Your group can even grow large enough that you decide to organize future protests or demand justice from your local politicians.
You don’t always have to take action on your own to fight police brutality and racism. There are hundreds of organizations that are already fighting the good fight. Organizations like the NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union, Color of Change, and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance are dedicated to establishing equality and justice for people of color. You can donate to these organizations to help them continue their hard work. Equally, you can also join existing community and social media groups that are dedicated to educating its members and pushing toward a common goal of justice.
Don't get played out by the protests and burn out without a long-term plan. The fight against oppression, racism, and inequality has started. Don't let this awakening be a spark, take the steps to turn it into a roaring fire for change.
Edward DeJesus is the president of DeJesus Solutions, the founder of Social Capital Builders.