Your Voice Matters

I've stayed pretty quiet this weekend online because of what's going on in the world. I'm angry. I'm sad. I feel helpless. And I'm just going to speak from the heart. 

America was founded on racial injustice and I am lucky and privileged to have been raised by wonderful parents who have had tough conversations with me. Who help me understand and learn about our past and how to be part of the change for the future. They have taught me to see color and be a better ally to those in need.

I don't normally speak on any major topics on the blog out of worry that if I cover one, I must cover the rest. And with so much sadness in the world -- the police brutality, the shootings, the political divide, the pandemic -- it all felt too much. How can people cry over the burning of Notre Dame and not cry for Eric Garner? I just never wanted to share one without sharing them all. And I told myself posting to Instagram won't change the world, I must do more. So I signed petitions, I donated, I listened, I read, I researched, I asked questions, I learned. I did what I could.

But there is more to do. I think what is going on in the world right now is sad and horrible, but with this I hope will come change. I'm glad people are upset, I'm glad they are making their voice heard. It means that we're coming together to tell whoever will listen that things need to change. That we will not stand for racial inequality and police brutality.

Over the weekend I was able to connect with Kenzie, who is a follower and longtime supporter of the blog. We were able to have a really open and honest discussion and I asked her to help me in today's post. She has helped open my eyes to the importance of using my platform and to share voices for those who need to be heard. Kenzie has graciously put together links, articles, and different ways to help together for us all. If you don't know where to start, here is a good place. 

In addition to the information below, I wanted to share that I will be donating $250 to four different charities (Black Lives MatterCampaign ZeroNAACP, and The Liberty Fund (in NYC) for a total of $1,000 and ask that you help donate as well. 

Hi! I’m McKenzie “Kenzie” Barnes. I grew up in Washington, DC and have now lived in New York City for five years. I am an entrepreneur, content creator, and body-positive activist. I have always been involved with social justice in one way or another.

Trayvon Martin’s murder happened while I was in high school and it sparked a national conversation surrounding issues that have been going on for centuries. As a black woman who comes from a financially and educationally privileged background, I have always felt that it was my responsibility to use my voice to lift those of the people really on the margins.

The recent events surrounding the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd in conjunction with the global pandemic disproportionately affecting black and brown communities, I have felt more compelled than ever to try to educate my white and non-black POC counterparts on these issues.

What is the best way to help? Directly and non-directly.

Obviously, with all of the protests happening around the country right now, there are a lot of immediate actions that can and need to be taken, but support also needs to continue long after the protests stop. I believe the best and the easiest starting point is to sign the petitions for justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and donate to non-profits that are helping protesters, such as bail funds.

Sharing these resources on social media helps bring more awareness and support to the cause. While many of us, especially people that live in New York and other liberal cities around the country, assume that because it’s all over our timelines that everyone is seeing these things, which isn’t necessarily true because many people in many parts of the country live in bubbles of privilege. In addition, calling your elected representatives and demanding that not only the police officers be reprimanded for their crimes, but also that they pass the Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act, H.R. 4408.

More indirectly, it’s incredibly important to call out racism--both overt and subtle--in your everyday life. This means challenging your relatives that are “from a different time”, addressing microaggressions from friends and coworkers, and much more. In addition, within professional spaces, pushing for diversity is integral for progress. In an office, that means starting discussions with hiring managers and executives about hiring more people of color and promoting them to positions of power so they have a voice at the table.

In the influencer world, that means promoting businesses owned by people of color, refusing to partner with companies that don’t give equal opportunities to influencers of color, and helping influencers of color gain a following by promoting their content.

And obviously, vote.

How can people help in their everyday life? What should we be looking out for? What questions should we be asking?

Beyond what I mentioned above, beware of how your friends operate during conversations surrounding race. Encourage them to examine why they feel okay not addressing certain issues, why they don’t support certain bills or political movements, and how their privilege plays into those actions (or lack thereof). Also, be introspective when addressing these things. Make sure you’re not conflating issues of morality or ethics with political issues.

What are good resources to educate ourselves on what is going on?

I think there’s a lot of inflammatory and biased content going around right now that can be alienating to people that are trying to learn and help. One of the best educational resources I’ve found for white people and non-black POCs is The Everygirl’s compilation of anti-racist articles.

In addition, author and activist Rachel Cargel has written multiple articles for Harper’s Bazaar on everything from intersectional feminism to how-to’s on talking to your family about racism. Also, Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein put together this comprehensive list of anti-racist resources.

What is the best way to use our voice?

Right now, the most important thing is to take a firm stance on racism. Promote these messages on social media, talk to your circles, donate to the right causes, and if you feel safe doing so, go out and join the protests. And don’t stop having these conversations, even when the outrage and media coverage do.

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