SPECIFIC THINGS TO DO, NOW—for white people, especially.
Police Reform and Accountability - "Write up and circulate for signatures a call for the United States Justice Department to award grants to incentivize state and local police jurisdictions for the following: To require body-worn cameras, to implement de-escalation training, to require psychological evaluation of police officers prior to hiring, to require the collection of statistical information on excessive use of force complaints, to mandate the creation of citizen boards to review police misconduct complaints, and to require unconscious bias training for all police officers.
Conversations - Through your place of worship, library, or community center, organize virtual gatherings that engage small groups of African Americans and White Americans in facilitated courageous conversations about race and racism in your local area, and national.
Education System - Reach out to your local school board to initiate or to update what may have been a longstanding call to include in the required curriculum, education about racism and other systems of inequality in our country and the world.
Politics - Engage in the tried and true act of writing to your local, state, and federal elected representatives to express your reaction to the recent racially charged incidents, and be sure to say what you ask them to do about these incidents.
-Demand that the U.S. Senate debate and vote on H.R.1 (For the People Act) that has passed the House of Representatives and would restore the Voting Rights Act and limit voter suppression.
-Even though the current administration has failed to submit a written report to the United Nations Committee to End Racial Discrimination (CERD), Non-Governmental organizations recognized by the UN with consultative statuses, such as NCNW, should be encouraged to submit reports to the (CERD) as a way of educating the public and holding the United States accountable.
Systemic Racism - Keep yourself informed about important matters that are related to acts of systemic racism. For example, familiarize yourself with the work of the Center for Policing Equity. In doing so, you will understand that persistent racial bias in the use of force is not tied to rates of criminal infraction. Force is applied disproportionately against Black people and other people of color even when they commit the same infractions as White people.
SPEAK UP! Each of us should speak up whenever we hear a comment that is racist or expresses bigotry or hatred for any group of people. As Audre Lorde once said, “Your silence will not protect you.”
Support Organizations - Whenever you can, donate to organizations that are fighting for human rights, civil rights, and yes, women’s rights.
We all must engage in a number of actions that may not seem to be tied to systemic racism but are in fact very connected to how it can be addressed.
Each of us must participate in the census. Resources and political representation are based on census data.
VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! Our lives and the lives of our families, the lives of all in our communities, and the lives of generations not yet born depend on it. As rapper, T.I. says “your vote is your microphone, so get in the studio.”
Finally, my sisters and my brothers, my siblings all, let us remember an invisible enemy that we must defeat is hopelessness. In this intensely troubled time, we must Keep the Faith! And we must Carry On!"
Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Ph.D.
National President and Chair
National Council of Negro Women, Inc.