Compassion into action
The work of active anti-racism is not finite. Progress shouldn't stop if or when current protests and intelligible anger subdue. Our efforts must continue to move forward and produce actual change. We want to turn our compassion into action. One important issue we've discussed here at JAM when trying to wrap our heads around what to do is voting rights. Read below to learn who is supporting the cause to fix and where to begin.
This moment feels different.
After months of staying at home during the pandemic, it seemed like things were slowly opening and we were just going back to business as usual, nothing changed even though the fractures in the system were made so visible during and by these times.
Now, beginning with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Oluwatoyin Salau, Tony McDade, Elijah McCain, and the long list of names stretching forward and backward, with the people marching on the streets to say this is enough, maybe, maybe, things are changing.
One couldn’t have happened without the other. It is because we’ve all been at home, isolated from one another and craving connection, because we’ve been out of work, with plenty of time to think and now time to act, maybe, maybe, things are changing.
As the memes say, we began quarantine by baking banana bread, now we’re abolishing the police.
Ideas that were ‘radical’ are becoming mainstream – Black Lives Matter (not radical at all), defund the police, restorative justice, prison abolition, banning the Confederate flag, it’s not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.
These times have made clear the connections between everything: systemic racism, the unequal effects of the pandemic and climate change, public health and who receives healthcare, employment and who is considered an “essential” worker and how we treat them, even the physical structure of our cities and neighborhoods.
What happens now? How do we stop reacting and start shifting the system that created these problems? How do we make bail bond funds irrelevant and protesting unnecessary? How do we help enact change, how do we create the world in which we want to live?
Pick your battles. One issue that we can invest in is voting rights. It’s not enough to vote or tell people to vote when we have gerrymandering, voter rolls being purged, polling locations being closed. Some organizations working on voting rights issues: League of Women Voters, Fair Fight, Election Protection. Volunteer to be a poll worker! Or a poll monitor!
Doing the work doesn’t have to feel like work. Read books by women and people of color for the pleasure of it! These are the books on our summer reading list, all released in the last couple of months:
Brit Bennet, The Vanishing Half
Alexandra Chang, Days of Distraction
Megha Majumdar, A Burning
Wayétu Moore, The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir
Andre Leon Talley, The Chiffon Trenchies: A Memoir
C Pam Zhang, How Much of These Hills is Gold
And buy books from your local independent bookstore! Or if you’re looking for a one-stop shop, try www.bookshop.org which supports independent bookstores.
Written by Krystal Chang