What can I do? I'm hearing this question a lot right now from people who are devastated by the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others, and who wish to take action to confront white supremacy and build a world in which black lives matter, are safe, and are equal. I believe this is the work of the Spirit stirring in us, and I love that you are answering the call of God's people, and the call of God herself, to do more than think and talk about these matters, but to take action.
The first thing to remember is that there have been people working in this struggle for years, decades, centuries, long before our arrival. The best thing we can do is learn about their work and explore how we fit into it. It's especially important, for those of us who are white, to take our lead from people of color; they live this fight every day. For those of us who are white, it's our job to do the work of dismantling the system that was created by our ancestors, is perpetuated by us (even if unconsciously), and still to this day benefits/privileges us. It's our job to organize white people and work within our own spheres of influence. It's our job to use our positional privilege to create change. But it's not our job to take up space that pushes out black and brown voices; nor is it our privilege to determine the agenda of the movement. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is listen---and believe.
A series of three conversations in response to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery continued the public discourse in Auburn. You can view them here. On Sunday evening, leaders of local advocacy organizations and other individuals gathered on Zoom to discuss concrete action steps, as a newly formed Social Justice Task Force. We are in the process of organizing a demonstration and a public statement. Meetings have been had with local leadership, from the Police Chief and Sheriff to the Mayor and City Hall. Long-term work is beginning, in order to create proactive strategies (to ensure what happened to George Floyd will not happen in Auburn) and to address areas of local change, such as public education, civic representation, hiring practices, policing, etc. Thankfully, we have seen great shows of solidarity from leadership, including the Police Chief himself this past Sunday at a local demonstration.
Racism is very real in Auburn and Cayuga County. It's time we did something about it!
Here's what you can do:
- Come to the demonstration (with safe distancing) - more information to come shortly.
- Join/support a local organization working for justice and inclusion: the Auburn/Cayuga County NAACP, the Harriet Tubman Center for Justice and Peace, the Human Rights Commission, the Harriet Tubman Boosters, Celebrate! Diverse Auburn, the Harriet Tubman Troupe, Auburn Public Theater, the Minority Professional Association, Booker T. Washington Community Center. I can provide contacts. This is a great way to plug into information, financially support ongoing work, and get involved. Westminster is already a lifetime member of the NAACP and hosts its meetings, hosts the office of the Human Rights Commission, and is a financial contributor to many of these organizations.
- Let me know if you'd like to be involved at a leadership level with the newly organized Social Justice Task Force.
- Support local black-owned businesses.
- For concrete actions you can take, read this article "75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice."
- Check out this practical guide for white allies and accomplices.
- Read this article "For Our White Friends Desiring To Be Allies".
- Check out this really helpful Google document, compiling anti-racism resources, including books, movies, organizations, articles, videos, podcasts, and resources for children.
Let our hearts break open, and these questions seep in.