This newsletter is about stuff I see on the internet, and for roughly the past week, I’ve only seen one thing on the internet: the continuing, seemingly never-ending work of the Black Lives Matter movement. Protest footage, petitions, donation forms, educational resources, an endless deluge of ways get informed and to help.
I’ll keep this brief but: chances are that if you’re reading this, then most of what you like about internet culture these days is because of black people and other non-white communities. The internet has allowed people excluded from or underrepresented in traditional media forms to find their voice online. The odds are incredibly high that the viral videos, funny tweets, hashtags, and reaction GIFs you enjoy and utilize – even the everyday slang you think of as internet slang – have their roots in a marginalized community.
I write that for the sake of being crystal-clear that nobody, not even the meme email, gets to sit this one out. So today’s newsletter will be a list of ways you can help.
Support Bail Funds
This one is pretty easy and takes like five seconds. There are plenty of crowdsourced lists online with links to organizations that could use your help getting people out of jail, especially important given the public health concerns around COVID.
If you’d rather spread your donation more widely, here’s a tool that will split up your contribution between 39 different funds.
If you don’t have the means to donate, here’s an hour-long YouTube video you can stream, where all of the ad money is donated to relevant causes.
Support longer-term efforts
Racist policing will continue as long as the police have endless budgets and the support of legislators and policymakers. These organizations are taking donations, and many of them offer easy instructions for contacting your local government reps.
In Minneapolis, there’s Reclaim the Block, an effort “to move money from the police department into other areas of the city’s budget that truly promote community health and safety.”
In New York City, there’s also an ongoing effort to defund the NYPD. From the Daily News: “New York City spends more on policing than it does on the Departments of Health, Homeless Services, Housing Preservation and Development, and Youth and Community Development combined.”
Philadelphia also has a defund effort: “The City of Philadelphia has proposed a $14 million dollar budget increase for the Philadelphia Police Department, at a time when the libraries are getting an over $9 million dollar cut, our homeless services are getting an over $12 million dollar cut, our Parks and Recreation budget is getting an almost $13 million dollar cut, our public health is getting an over $8 million dollar cut, our public defenders face a 4% cut and major staffing shortfall, and the City is entirely eliminating the $4 million budget for arts and culture in our city.”
In Los Angeles: “In the face of an unprecedented public health crisis and historic economic instability, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed a $10.5 billion budget that reduces services, furloughs city workers, and cuts the budget of all city departments with one big exception: the Los Angeles Police Department. Mayor Garcetti not only does not cut the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget, but he proposes increases to the budget, specifically $34 million dollars in overtime pay. As it stands now, the LAPD already receives 54% of Los Angeles’s discretionary spending budget.”
(Each of the municipal efforts above is in a city run by a Democratic mayor.)
Admittedly, easier said than done given the overarching circumstances, but by no means impossible. If you do go to a protest, here is a list of resources for what to be aware of. Be careful about your smartphone and posting pictures of other peoples’ faces. It’s not an occasion for scoring clout.
Here’s a big, long list of stuff to read, and listen to, and watch regarding Black Lives Matter and racism. You don’t have to read a whole book — there are articles and podcasts and movies in there too. That said, if you do want to read an entire book, the ebook of Alex Vitale’s The End of Policing is free right now. (Admittedly, I have not read it but lots of people are endorsing it.)
A couple of Don’ts
Don’t donate to anything involving Shaun King or amplify or reshare him on social media.
Don’t use the hashtag #blacklivesmatter if you’re just posting a black square on social media today. Doing so actively suppresses useful information about the movement.
A disclaimer: the list above is by no means a comprehensive collection of places and activities on which to focus your attention. If the above is not helpful, Google, Twitter, and Instagram exist, and they are incredibly useful in this situation. I don’t mean for that to sound condescending. All I’m saying is there are plenty of other resources out there if you put in a minimal amount of effort to find them.
On a related note
If you are a paying subscriber to this newsletter, you have already contributed to the cause. I took all of May’s proceeds, $401.08, and put them towards various bail funds. June’s will similarly go somewhere useful.
Because of transaction fees and stuff, however, it’d be more effective for you to donate directly instead of paying me to do it for you. If you want to cancel your subscription to this newsletter and put it towards something else, by all means, please do (and please let me know what).