Yesterday marked a momentous day in the Black Lives Matter movement – following the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis on Monday 25 May, a growing sense of outrage, anger, sadness and unrest has spread across the globe.
This resulted in ‘Blackout Tuesday’ taking place yesterday – a day for people and companies to step back from social media by posting a black square on their social media account, muting their account for the day and using the time they would otherwise be on social media to educate themselves on Black Lives Matter, and amplify black voices.
However, as Blackout Tuesday gained momentum, it became clear that social media was becoming totally awash with black squares – a powerful statement, yes, but unfortunately also hiding posts that were full of useful resources and information for how people can further their own and other’s education and continue to be allies to the black community.
So, if you posted a black square, great. But that’s just one step in standing with the Black Lives Matter movement – now we must continue to show our support and solidarity by turning those black squares into catalysts for real change today, tomorrow and every day after that with real actions.
What to do after posting your black square on social media
Write to your MP
The UK supplies the US with tear gas, riot equipment and rubber bullets, which are currently being used by police against peaceful protesters across America. British law requires exports to be suspended if they are used for ‘internal repression’, which is currently the case in the US as police continue to use ‘excessive force’. Use this template to write to your MP to apply pressure to the government to suspend supply.
Whether with friends, family or colleagues, young or old, it’s important we remove the ‘taboo’ of discussing racial inequality. Be thoughtful and considerate with your words, but don’t hold back from uncomfortable conversations because you’re afraid of ‘saying the wrong thing’ – we can only learn from our mistakes. Don’t be embarrassed if you aren’t an expert on the subject, as conversations will only help us grow and learn.
Probably the easiest thing that literally anyone with access to a computer can do is sign petitions: start by signing the Justice for George Floyd, Justice for Ahmaud Arbery and Justice for Belly Mujinga petitions; it will literally take a matter of minutes.
Consume content by black creators
Whether it’s books, films, art, music or media, tune in to black voices and creators and amplify them. Be aware of who created the content you consume day to day – what percentage is by black creators? Then actively seek to settle the inequality. Yesterday, thanks to Blackout Tuesday, the top 20 Amazon bestseller list included authors Reni Eddo-Lodge, Layla F. Saad, Candice Brathwaite, Akala, Candice Carty-Williams and Bernadine Evaristo. Keep this momentum going by reading books by black authors (we have a list here), sharing black-created art on social media, seeking out black-created movies and TV shows and making sure the social media accounts you follow are diverse – Munroe Bergdorf, Mona Chalabi and Layla F. Saad are all excellent voices to follow.
Elevate black voices
It’s important to start with educating yourself, but then make sure to give rise to black voices by passing that education on to others by recommending and sharing on social media the books, films, art, music and media you consume. Media outlets such as gal-dem, Unbothered by Refinery29, Shondaland and Cocoa Butter by Buzzfeed are all great online media outlets to read, learn and share black voices and experiences.
Continue to ask why
We live within a culture of systemic racism, so it’s unlikely you’ll get it right all the time. What’s important is to call yourself up on things when you find yourself succumbing to systemically racist tendencies and asking yourself why – and the same goes for asking why of others, too.
If you’re financially able to, consider donating money to funds and reliefs that are helping black people in need – we have a list of several places you can donate to to help the cause in the US and the UK here.
Buy from black-owned businesses
Emily Ames posted a brilliant resource to social media yesterday highlighting several black-owned businesses and there are even more listed in the caption and comments. Do your research and actively seek out black-owned businesses to buy from, especially now when black-owned businesses have been hit hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve also rounded up some black-owned beauty brands you should have on your radar here.
Commit to being an ally on and offline
Anti-racism goes beyond social media – commit to taking your education and awareness off screen and into the real world with you. Silence is not an ally, so that means pulling up friends and family when they say something racist. If you know a black colleague has been treated unfairly due to their race, speak up about it. Make sure your offline actions reflect your online promises.