Supporting Black Lives Matter as a POC/White Ally

By Daniel Paiz

There is a lot of information to disseminate and learn from the ongoing protests nationwide. Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery are just the newest victims of police brutality. This is meant to be a starting place when it comes to supporting Black Lives Matter as a Non-Black POC or White ally. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and of course defer to Black leadership and Black voices when it comes to learning and listening. As someone who benefits from being a white-passing Latinx I recognize I am in possession of privilege that others do not benefit from.

George Floyd

Whether you’re Latinx/Chicanx (raises hand), Asian, Indigenous, White or a wonderful mix of different backgrounds, solidarity is the key. Not just now, but whenever working towards justice and equity for Black Lives and all underrepresented communities. Also one more note before jumping into it.

Breonna Taylor

If you didn’t think Cypher Sessions would be on the side of Black Lives Matter, you aren’t paying attention. The goal of this site is to boost Black and Brown voices, and local/underground voices who are not heard or consumed via popular media outlets. If it surprises or baffles you, go back and look at who’s been featured in our ongoing NaPoWriMo series for starters. Yeah. Anyway let’s get started.

Ahmaud Arbery

A place to start

Heading over to the Black Lives Matter website is a good starting point. There are toolkits for POC allies, White allies, and toolkits en español para la gente quien saber solamente español (toolkits in Spanish for people who only speak/are only comfortable with Spanish). They differ in preparation for an action, what to do during an action, and working towards healing of oneself. Honestly healing is a simple enough place to start for everybody new or years removed from this kind of work:

Toolkits provide necessary information for each group working to dismantle anti-Blackness. There are three different toolkits to check out at the BLM website: one for Black and Non-Black POC organizers, one for White allies, and one for Spanish speakers. Everyone has to start somewhere. Understanding the history of these protests is also important. Another helpful piece of information is learning where the demands being made have come from.

A lack of justice with regards to police brutality and the murders of countless Black men and women for starters. Institutional and systemic racism is another. The historical continuation of discrimination and violence as well. There are so many demands that are unmet. A centralized list that might better illustrate what’s been fought for a long time follows below from the original Black Panther Party’s “Ten-Point Program“.

The original Black Panther Party was destroyed by the FBI and CIA, but the above declaration can serve as a starting point to understand some of today’s demands. More recent history from the protests in Ferguson and Baltimore can also provide context and resources for the current protests.

A guide for those new to protesting

For some people this will be their first time protesting. There’s no time like the present to get out and practice your First Amendment rights. However, there are some things you should know before heading out that will protect you and other people there.

For starters, you’re going to want to dress in something you can move in comfortably. Should it be a protest that faces violent police action, you might need to run or move quickly to avoid a dangerous situation. Clothes and shoes that allow you to be mobile are your best options.

Speaking of mobiles, your cell phone is a catch-22. While it can help you to document the protest and catch any violent behavior around you (likely from the police), it can also get you in trouble. Cell phone data can be tracked by the authorities, and it can also be used to track your movements and messages. Some people decide to turn their phones off, others switch it to airplane mode, and still others have separate phones for protests.

Obviously it’s up to you when it comes to using your cell phone. If, like me, you might have another camera device to capture footage, then I’d turn it off. If you don’t have another means of documenting then you have to weigh the pros and cons of using your phone.

Only you can make that decision. A word of warning though, as police departments allegedly have been tracking down protesters and arresting them for their participation days after attending said protest. It’s absolute nonsense, but not surprising with the current state of things. Another thing to note (at least in Denver) that there are allegedly puppet protest groups such as “We Are Love Denver” that are allegedly funded by the Denver PD and Mayor’s Office.

Additional supplies you should take include backpack, water, snacks, any necessary medication should you have any conditions (like an inhaler), change of clothes should you get tear gassed or pepper sprayed, and contacts of people you trust. If you have weighed the options and have accepted you might get arrested, you need to contact someone who can be there as you’re processed, have an attorney ready, and know what you’re getting into.

Finally, there are other supplies that can aid you against tear gas and pepper spray (among other things):

  • Shatterproof goggles (Z87+ are what you’re looking for)
  • Bandanas/face coverings that are soaked in water or vinegar to combat the effects of gas and spray
  • Umbrellas can be very effective as shields
  • Lastly, you being aware of your surroundings and having your head on a swivel; knowing your surroundings is vital

A reminder

There are so many more resources to search for. Black Trans Lives Matter, Black Women’s Lives Matter, and of course all Black Lives Matter. Resources for all types of causes are out there, it takes a bit of digging on your part to find them. This is a starting guide and is nowhere near a fully comprehensive list.

The biggest thing you can do is sit down with yourself and honestly admit where you might be uneducated and lacking understanding. Unlearning things you grew up around is difficult, but essential. It’s one of the first steps everyone can take in their efforts towards justice and equity.

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