Black Lives Matter FAQ
Is there a point to protesting?
The protests are a physical manifestation of people’s determination to end racism. They help Black people feel supported and heard. Protesting has real-life effects and consequences in eliminating racist policies and practices.
What about the looting?
Looting and protesting are two different things. Protesters protest. Looters loot. Please try to put priority on the importance of human life over property during the protests.
What does Defund the Police mean?
This is the radical idea of disbanding law enforcement structures with history of racially motivated brutality and discrimination and then building them back again from the ground up. It is a long and complicated process. It doesn’t mean abolishing police, but reforming it entirely.
The goal is to redirect funds from such organizations towards the disenfranchised and marginalized communities who need it more. The main argument for this is that it is not just “one bad apple” who commits brutality, but it is enabled by the very system those policemen operate within. Similarly, the call to demilitarize the police aims to make it less hostile and oppressive, and reduce aggression and tactics using excessive force.
This doesn’t mean we don’t need police altogether; it means that society’s issues cannot be solved by the current means used by police alone, and that to protect and serve with honor would require much more than having heavy weaponry, intimidating equipment, and escalating conflict. We need more social workers, addiction help centers, counseling, community health and education.
Why do I have to get involved in all this? I am not political and it makes me uncomfortable.
Racism is a social, economic, moral, judicial, and human rights issue, and it affects real people and real lives in all spheres. There are many forms of racism, from inter-personal to systemic, and politics is just another term for how our society operates and is governed. There should not be a question of “why” to fight racism, as racism is real, very much alive, and destructive to black lives and communities. It is a question of “how”. There are many ways to contribute, and all of them involve some feelings of discomfort. This is a good thing—it means that you are growing and changing the status quo, that you are challenging your own misconceptions. A little discomfort is a small token for achieving equality.
I am white, but I do not feel I benefit from white privilege, nor I endorse it. Why am I being called out to surrender my privilege I worked so hard for?
It is very difficult to recognize white privilege from within. The way it works is that it is only visible to those who do not have it. White privilege only exists in the first place because racism exists. If everyone was indeed equal, we would all benefit from and enjoy the same rights and freedoms, which isn’t the case. It is true that you work hard for your achievements, yet black people have to work twice as hard for the same things because they experience discrimination and setbacks in the process we don’t even have to think about.
To give up your privilege and to put it into a good use doesn’t mean to be denied your success; it means to acknowledge the lack of success by those who work just as hard due to the discrimination they experience, and still aren’t able to get as far ahead as those who have privilege.
What does it mean to not center myself? How can I contribute to this movement I genuinely believe in but stay in the background at the same time?
This is important. Historically, black voices and stories have been suppressed and ignored. It is time to give way to those voices and listen to what they have to say. Black people should be in control of their own narrative. Not centering yourself means to channel ideas and words by BIPOC, to amplify them, and to use the public platforms you have to share and spread them. This will enable Black people to express themselves freely and will further black liberation. The desire to help often leads to something called “white savior syndrome”—when racial issues are only heard and validated if they are championed by white people.
Another impediment to achieving equality is that often Black people are burdened with having to decode their experience to white people and to justify their discontent. Racism however is widely a white problem, and white people are those who are responsible for doing the work of educating themselves on the ways to help. Often, Black people are exhausted from simply trying to survive day to day, and do not have the emotional capacity to explain every single aspect of the movement.
All lives matter.
This is not semantically correct given that for all lives to matter, black lives should be included. Black lives and bodies have been criminalized, objectified, exploited, and extinguished for centuries, and they are the ones that we need to start treating like they matter. Another example would be to say all houses matter when only one house on your street is on fire. Technically speaking, yes—all houses are important since they are people’s homes. But the house that is currently on fire is the one that requires immediate attention and help.
I am overwhelmed and stressed. I want to go back to my normal life and take a break from all this craziness.
It’s been a difficult year to say the least. Mental health is of utmost importance and so is physical health. Your priority should always be self-care and your family. Plus, you can’t help if you are not in a good shape, and you can’t be kind to others if you are not kind to yourself first.
This is a very good insight into the black experience. Now you know how BIPOC feel every day their entire lives. Fear, stress, lack of security and safety, discomfort and uncertainty can affect us on a molecular level and it’s been scientifically proven that it changes our very DNA. The events give us the perspective and the empathy we need to understand and help the movement.
I am not racist, but... (concerns about “reverse racism”, “black on black crime” and other stereotype perpetuating myths.
Examine what you know. Try to trace how your convictions originated and set roots in your psyche. Be aware of how they manifest in your daily life. We can be misguided and misinformed even when we have the best intentions in our hearts! Having opinions is important, but make sure you make educated choices based on informed opinions. Hold the sources you learn from to a higher standard.
In the age of information and technology there is no reason for us to be accidentally racist or ignorant.
This is a very controversial topic. I am losing friends over it and am at odds with my family. I’m wasting time on forums arguing with strangers and I am upset that my local community is divided.
Unfortunately, this is a very common side effect of every social change. It starts with people, with the way they think and the way they act.
Do not be discouraged! Decide for yourself what is more important to have: short-term discomfort or long-term dysfunction? What kind of friends are valuable to you? What kind of community do you need? You can’t control what people think or feel, and how they act, but you can choose the kind of people you surround yourself with. As much as we all want to just get along, sometimes we need to take a stand for what’s right.
Remember that there always will be different opinions and separate cliques and groups with opposing views. I do not recommend a life in an echo chamber or in a bubble where everyone agrees, because we need to have a dialogue in order to crystallize our ideas.
The goal here is to recognize what is a constructive communication that leads to solving the issue at hand, and what is a pointless argument that only makes us more upset and hurt.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a start.
Thank you for reading!