26 ways to be in the struggle, beyond the streets. (a list)
June 2020 updates
Ejeris Dixon, Piper Anderson, Kay Ulanday Barrett, Ro Garrido, Emi Kane, Bhavana Nancherla, Deesha Narichania, Sabelo Narasimhan, Amir Rabiyah, and Meejin Richart. Design by Alana Yu-lan Price. Accessible version adapted by Alejandra Ospina and Akemi Nishida.
Please note: Authors gave consent for it to be republished on the Disability Visibility Project
This list is designed to celebrate the all ways that our communities can engage in liberation. For a variety of reasons there are folks who cannot attend rallies and protests who contribute to ending police and state violence against black people.
People seek justice and support liberation in an array of ways, yet their bodies, their spirits, and their lives may not allow them to be in the streets. We believe that we will win and we need everyone’s contributions to win. We affirm that all contributions are political, militant, and valued.
By and for those in our communities who can’t be in the streets, we offer a list of concrete ways that we can and do support liberation every day. We uplift you. We are you. See you in the struggle.
- Host or attend a Know Your Rights Training to educate yourself, your loved ones, and your community on their rights when interacting with the police. You can find links to a list of orgs that host these trainings here: http://tiny.cc/BTSresources
- Give money, fundraise online, or donate business proceeds to organizations that are doing work for Black liberation and against police violence. You can also give money to individual Black activists and organizers for rent, food, medicine and more via Venmo or Cashapp. Check out this link for a list of places to donate and more: http://tiny.cc/BTSresources
- Spread the word about rallies, actions, events, and demands through social media, text, email, phone, and in person. Use hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #DefendBlackLives to amplify the message on social media.
- Offer to be an emergency contact for people attending marches and rallies. Get the person’s full name and date of birth, medical information (if they feel comfortable sharing), along with the contact info for anyone they want you to alert should they be detained or hurt. Make sure you know the numbers for the National Lawyers Guild (www.nlg.org), Central Booking, local precincts, and local hospitals. Check in by text once an hour so that you’re aware of their whereabouts and current protest conditions.
This document is a helpful guide to playing this role and what information it’s helpful to collect. Please note that if you use it, do NOT store people’s personal information online on Google – they will turn over this information if subpoenaed! Instead, it’s best to print this document and write these details in.
- Attend planning meetings or strategy calls for anti-police violence and anti-criminalization groups. Share and attend events that address anti-Black racism. Always consider who holds power and leadership within an organization or group before uplifting their work, and prioritize those that center Black voices and leadership.
- Support, attend, or organize healing justice events. Adrienne Maree Brown, Adaku Utah, and Leah lakshmi piepzna-samarasinha and susan raffo have created a list of healing practices to sustain care in protest; you can find a link to it by going here: tiny.cc/BTSresources.
- Cook a pre- or post-march meal, or pack food for people attending protests, marches, and events. If faraway or trying to maintain physical distance during the pandemic, offer to order food delivery or pay for groceries to help people recuperate post-event.
- Coordinate or provide childcare for protestors and those supporting at the frontlines. Because we’re in a pandemic, figure out if doing childcare is a good role for you – this carries risk of spreading the virus since you’ll be in direct contact with a group where people in it are spending time in large crowds and possibly arrested/detained by police. If you do childcare, try to keep groups small (like not more than a few families together) so that we’re limiting cross-sharing in case anyone in the group gets infected with COVID. You’ll also want to have a plan and prepare for any extenuating circumstances, like arrests. It might not make sense to do childcare unless there’s a strong relationship between the person doing childcare and the kids, just in case kids are separated from a parent or caregiver for longer than planned. It’s helpful to plan for childcare in a home, rather than at street actions themselves, just in case anything happens, or overnight arrangements need to be made. You’ll also need to consider any legal implications in case a parent being arrested could jeopardize custody in any way, and how that shapes a plan for who can do childcare.
- Create art, music, poetry, stories, graphics, and videos that speak on issues relating to police violence, criminalization of Black communities, and which focus on social justice: stories and images of resistance, solidarity, and resiliency. Create new chants, make signs, reach out to organizers to see what they need designed. Uplift and support the work of Black artists and people of color who are impacted by these struggles. Fund and invest in Black artists, cultural work, and ideas. This can expand audiences, share the work, and support Black artists to continue their creative practice. Cultural work is resistance!
- Create a homebase for the evening, where folks who are protesting can take physical and emotional breaks indoors with others. Homebase can also be a great space to gather people working as emergency contacts or doing other types of remote support for protesters. Because of the pandemic, you might not be able to offer your literal home as an in-person homebase. You could instead support via online communication, be someone’s emergency contact, hold health info, bail money, legal information, family/loved ones’ information in case of emergency.
- If you’re white, or a non-black person of color, continue to reflect on your identity, and the history of racism and of aspiring ally-ship or solidarity, between your folks and black communities. Find like-identified folks to workshop with, and have conversations with family, friends, co-workers, and community members to help build awareness and solidarity in ending anti-black racism. Directly invest and re-distribute resources to Black people in your lives, Black organizations, Black-led justice initiatives, Black artists, and bailouts including those specifically focused on supporting Transgender, Nonbinary, Migrant, and Undocumented Black people. Utilize your online media to reflect black perspectives that are being impacted. Be a conduit on social media where black activists are speaking, engaging, agitating, and showing up. Showing up as a non-black POC means supporting to multiply the message.
- Be a grounding or self-care buddy: speak and listen with someone before they leave for the march. Help them create a post-march grounding plan. Give them regular text check-ins from your home, and friendly reminders to drink water, breathe, etc. Remind and support them in taking care of their personal needs. Send emojis, memes, or whatever else would help the person, and ask that person to text you when they’re home from the action. Here is an Herbal First Aid Aftercare guide for All Who Have Experienced Police Violence. (Created by several collaborators, affiliated with MASHH – Medicine For All Seeking Health and Healing.) If you are able to grow and brew plant medicine, use these important skills to increase its accessibility for those needing support (especially immune and respiratory systems) as they take critically needed action in the streets during the pandemic.
- For friends who have physical pain, varying mobility, or mental health challenges and want to participate in the street actions, offer to help create a safety plan: what they might need before and after, what medications to bring (perhaps 2-3 days dosage), familiarize each other with the route, support them to have 2-3 contact people in case of emergencies or bail. Include self-care boundaries such as pre-determining amount of time spent on the street, what might help prevent or delay pain or anxiety, what signs to beware of re: onset of pain or mental health challenges, agreeing ahead of time to give themselves permission to exit early upon first signs of onset, what they will do/where they will go if triggered or hurt, what will definitely be comforting post-march that could be set up ahead of time. Additionally, in the case that pharmacies and stores close down, offer support with medical needs and assessments. If you can afford or can spare medical supplies, back up assistive devices, masks, &/or medications and share them with Black people and those deeply affected.
- If you have a spiritual practice or practice community this is a great opportunity to come together and set an intention for your work together toward supporting the movement. That could look like opening the space up for others to join you in meditation, prayer, chanting, singing, centering, Jo Kata, altar making, etc. If you have physical space where you practice could also include opening the doors to invite in protesters who need rest, water, food, warmth. During COVID, consider hosting a socially distanced space where you provide food, emotional support, masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, etc.
- When groups on the frontlines are using most of their resources to get people out on the streets, they need volunteers to provide IT support, collect supplies needed for demonstrations, answer phones, do data entry, upload, organize, and archive documentation. Check with groups about volunteer opportunities and organizational needs. If you have a car or bike, consider being a transportation hub for supplies, food, materials, and emergency supplies.
- If you’re an experienced educator, write curriculum and support other educators in talking about these issues. Host a conference call with teachers to strategize on how to talk with students about what’s happening and how they can get involved. Pay and invest in Black lives, have Black community featured in your events and class if they are interested. Listen to Black students and be attuned to Black youth organizing efforts.
- Use your skills. Are you experienced in organizing demonstrations, training security or marshalls, de-escalating conflict, providing jail support, being a legal observer, hosting trainings, designing social media graphics or doing other digital organizing? If so, you can create educational documents and support people one-on-one in building their skills before they head out to the streets.
- Hold space to process for black, queer, trans, disabled, elder, undocumented, and migrant community members who are unable to attend protests for any reason, but are still deeply affected and policed. This includes sick, disabled, and those who struggle with mental health within black community.
- Hold space and/or organize events centering the experiences of black people on probation or parole to talk about their experiences of over-policing and surviving state supervision, incarceration, and state violence.
- Skype, zoom, call, text, visit, and show love for those who are in pain, injured in protest, and/or managing trauma from tear gas, police violence, physical, and emotional violence. Follow up with them regularly by affirming their needs and creating support networks. Remember that state violence impacts our spirit.
- Help amplify the protests by circulating breaking news or visuals of actions, protests, and events from those in the streets, so they can reach a wider audience. Try to be extremely mindful to not share images of people’s faces unless given permission to do so. The police can use both the image and the metadata produced by it to track down protestors, often with deadly results. If you need to, blur identifying details by using a clone stamp or covering their faces and identifying features with emojis. If you need to post a picture, take a screenshot of it and post that instead of the original in order to avoid metadata transferring with the image.
- Translate documents and media, and support circulation about protests to non-English language press if you are multilingual. If asked, serve as an off-site spokesperson or media contact for protests. Offer to help write advisories and media releases, if needed.
- Support access for people who are blind, deaf, and hard of hearing, along with neurodivergent people and those with a range of learning styles and disabilities. You could write captions for images to convey messages in photos and footage, and take other steps to make materials accessible.
- If you have the skills or can do some research ahead of time, help your community plan to combat digital surveillance while people are on the streets. Learn how to safely use encrypted messaging apps like Signal and Jami, and walk people through how to install and use them. Get fabric and create DIY faraday bags to give to those heading out to the streets, talk people through disabling FaceID/Fingerprint and replacing it with a 6-digit PIN, help people disable iCloud or Google data syncing, and more. If you can, host a training or create social media-friendly guides to digital security at protests. While digital security is not foolproof and won’t address the most pressing needs in this struggle, implementing some basic measures can be meaningful in countering surveillance by the state and others who wish to harm our movements.
- Have conversations with those close to you. Discuss and take steps to implement plans for ending criminalization and state violence against black communities in your workplace, school, library, religious community, or family. Lean on your relationships of trust in those groups to shift conversations and change material conditions through changes in policies and power distribution within those spaces. Take risks and give up power in order to have these conversations and keep at it even when it’s hard.
- Take care of yourself! Self care is a revolutionary act. The criminalization of black communities, police violence against black people, and the devaluing of black lives is traumatizing. All of it can not only cause trauma but bring up vicarious trauma and sap our individual and collective energy to work for liberation. Step away from the computer, social media, or the tv and take time to remember what we’re fighting for: the people we love and call community. Allowing yourself to feel and express rage, cry, and experience joy and pleasure in these times is not only critical but essential.
For more info and links to resources, go to http://tiny.cc/BTSresources.