Violence against African-American men and women is nothing new. Throughout slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the War on Drugs - all the way to the present day, African-Americans have had a volatile relationship with police. This relationship results partially from the faulty economic and educational systems that marginalize communities of color and partially from stereotypes created during slavery to justify the enslavement of African-Americans that have been transformed and maintained to fit the culture as African-Americans have strove to reclaim their humanity.
Today, an increasingly connected global community has emerged as a result of the Digital Age; which makes capturing and sharing moments of brutality against blacks and other groups easier than ever. There is no denying the problem at hand - there is only room for us to act and find a solution. The twentyfourgifts team hopes that this post will serve as our part in the solution. The following dialogue will provide different ways (mentorship, activism, and community dialogues) for you to get involved and play your role in influencing real change.
Mentor-ship: Building up the Youth
The importance of mentorship is KEY! Many of the young black men and women in our communities don’t have anyone to guide them in the right direction. We must get involved in our communities and teach children their value as humans and the abilities they have to achieve. You can help mitigate brutality against blacks through mentoring children and young adults who don’t have positive role models in their lives. Positive guidance at a young age changes the trajectory of a child’s life and limits the number of negative interactions they will have with law enforcement. Here is a list of some mentoring programs doing great things in our communities:
Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 6 through 18, in communities across the country. They develop positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people.
How can I get involved?
If you’re interested in becoming a big brother to a young king in training click the following link. Likewise, if you’re interested in becoming a big sister to a young queen in training click this link. We understand that this time commitment may not work for everyone, so you can also donate to this organization to help match "littles" to other Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
Mentoring the 100 Way is a holistic mentoring program as part of the 100 Black Men of America organization that addresses the social, emotional and cultural needs of children ages 8-18. Members of the 100 are trained and certified to become mentors, advocates, and role models for the youth within their communities. Through chapter operated one-on-one and group mentoring efforts, their members forge relationships that positively impact our greatest resource: our youth. The program focuses on building essential skills needed to become productive, contributing citizens.
How can I get involved?
If interested, email email@example.com, and let them know you’re interested in mentorship and they will provide you with further details regarding how to get involved.
Activism and Civil Disobedience
Sit-ins. Boycotts. Protests. These are all acts of civil disobedience - defined by Wikipedia as the “professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government...” History has proven that civil disobedience provides real results when done properly. After reviewing some of the history from the Civil Rights Movement, as well as Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, we came up with some tips to help shape productive acts of civil disobedience.
Set clear and specific goals.
The purpose of the Montgomery Bus Boycott was to integrate public transportation systems in Alabama, and across the United States. The purpose of Ghandi’s Salt March was to allow for the production and transportation of salt without having to pay a tax. It is important that we have clear, specific goals that we want to achieve with this movement. What are we looking for? Changes in legislation? Culturally-sensitive police training? Stronger education systems for low-income communities? It is not enough to say that we want to walk the streets without having fear of being killed - we have to come up with specific ways to make it happen.
Develop a strategic plan and get people involved.
Protesting - it inspires and motivates people that true change is a possibility. However, that can’t be the extent of our civil disobedience. Even Ghandi’s Salt March wasn’t fully effective in it’s goal to eliminate taxation on salt production and transportation, but it eventually led to other acts of civil disobedience that helped to create a change.
Economically starving white collar companies through boycotting with the goal of leveraging their power to create change is an awesome start, but it’s important that the boycott is well thought out. Strategically choose which companies we will boycott, focus your energy on one or two companies at a time, provide the reasoning for why we decided to choose those companies to the participants, provide alternatives (ideally black owned businesses) for places to do business, and utilize the technology we have to get the word out.
Sit-ins and other acts of civil disobedience (such as strikes, picketing and refusal to adhere to other government demands) can also help further our cause. Sit-ins have been shown to be particularly useful when they are done in such a way as to lessen the economic gains and productivity of a certain company, industry, or sector.
Be patient, persistent and peaceful.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted from December 5, 1955 to December 20, 1956. That’s over a year. We know change doesn’t happen overnight, but in order to really affect the change we want to see, we must be patient and persistent. We can’t give in, no matter how hard it may be on us. Sacrifices must be made. With that being said, let’s limit those sacrifices to only include material things. No more blood should be shed. By responding to senseless killings with more senseless violence, we are only playing into the stereotypes that promote and justify that violence in the minds of the killers and the wider public that supports them.
One Voice, that is all it takes to start the conversation that has been the elephant in the room. That voice can capture the attention of many others who feel the same way and want to rally but don’t know how. One voice can spark the changes we seek.
Starting the dialogue is the best way to use one’s voice. It can be a means of opening eyes that have been blind, giving strength to those who feel alone and creating a ripple in motivation and action.
First, what is a community dialogue?
A community dialogue is a conversation amongst a group of people that can bring about understanding, comfort and action.
Who can lead a dialogue?
Anyone with a voice. The voice is a powerful weapon that when added with passion and a mission can spark not only action but a step towards change.
Where can a dialogue occur?
EVERYWHERE. We live in a world today that benefits from the reach of the internet and social media. Anything with a powerful message that is posted can go viral instantly and seen by millions within minutes.
Why should my voice matter?
Because you are you. Everyone is different and bring a different perspective. What makes you who you are may be the very thing that inspires others. Never hide your voice when you can help others; because what you say may be the very thing that makes all the difference.
Use your voice. Start the dialogue.
Ghandi once said we should be the change we want to see. Here at twentyfourgits we hope to embody the change we want in our communities and hope that this gift, and the many others to come, will motivate you to do the same.
- Twentyfourgifts Team