Support the Movement for Racial Justice in the USA

Hi Edgeryders community,

As you’ve probably heard by now, the United States is in the middle of what could be a watershed moment for racial justice. Racism against black people is endemic in the USA. Police brutality against black people is specifically a huge problem – the formal police force in the United States has its origin in slave patrols, so the history of brutality goes back a long way.

I’m writing because the support and involvement of the international community could go a long way to making sure this moment leads to larger institutional change in the United States.

Right now, there are a few things we need. This Black Lives Matter site straightforwardly lets you directly donate toward any of the broad areas where help is needed.

  1. National Bail Out (link here): also known as #freeblackmamas. The criminal justice system in the US discriminates against and incarcerates black people en masse. Contributing to bail funds directly helps release incarcerated black people. You can also contribute to the bail funds to release protestors.

  2. Reclaim the Block is an organization created to dismantle, defund and divest from police presence in the city. It invests in “violence prevention, housing, resources for youth, emergency mental health response teams, and solutions to the opioid crisis - not more police.” If you want to contribute to divestment from these police forces and investment in other community-based forms of aid, this is a good org to donate to. MPD150.com gives more information about what a police-free community could look like. You can also donate directly to families of victims of police brutality.

  3. Black Visions Collective is doing a lot of work on the ground to get supplies to people in the field who are protesting and who have been displaced. You can donate to them here.

  4. Supporting black-owned businesses that have been destroyed and other local efforts. This is a twitter thread of black-owned businesses that need support. If you want to give directly to support particular people in local communities, consider looking through these mutual aid funds to find direct links to businesses, people rebuilding their communities, and other initiatives.

Links 2 and 3 are Minnesota-specific, because that’s the context that I’m working in (and where this current movement originated). If you’d like to talk to me about the kinds of work you’re interested in directly supporting, I can also connect you to local activists. For example, there is a group that has created something called the Sanctuary in Minneapolis — taking over a Sheraton Hotel in the city to house displaced people, and provide people with food, clothes, and safety. They are taking direct donations via Paypal at fist0004@umn.edu.

Currently, I am also engaged in 3 efforts. First, pressuring corporations to match employee donations to the above and donating themselves. Second, pushing local organizations to cancel their contracts with the police (Minneapolis Public Schools have now cancelled their 1.1 million dollar contract. So has the Minneapolis Parks Board. As has 2 large Minneapolis museums, the MIA and the Walker). Finally, creating and disseminating a document for departments to sign that promise a set of concrete institutional changes to combat anti-Blackness and increase commitments to social justice in academia. If you’re interested in getting involved in any of these, please feel free to reach out.

If you can’t do any of the above, please consider boosting the voices of those in the movement who are sharing information and resources on social media to express solidarity and support – twitter and instagram in particular. Please do not post empty black squares on instagram because it is flooding feeds and inhibiting information access and resource sharing. Unless you want to troll the alt-right and white supremacists, in which case go ahead and post empty black squares using their hashtags. Contact me if you have questions about where to start. We can also engage in more global conversations on how colorism and anti-Blackness opresss people and hinder liberation movements everywhere.

Here is another document a friend has put together about workplace-specific action we can take.

@CCS and @Leonie are also participating in this movement and can provide their own insights into ways to contribute and support.

Thanks for listening!

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@stefanoboski :slight_smile:

This would be the area I am most interested in. Europeans tend to be blind to racial discrimination – I speak from experience here. So, what should we do here? The context is both better and worse than the American one: better because it is not so grim and desperate, and worse because a lot of people deny that there is a problem, or do not even bother denying it.

And one more thing: I have no idea how bad the police situation is here. During the lockdown, I noticed that Italian law enforcement went all mindless-law-and-order, whereas the police in Brussels tended to be reasonable and soft-touch, as it seems its style (although this episode and, earlier, this other one happened).

One of the valuable forms of education work coming out of this is recognition and addressing of how anti-Blackness plays out in different communities outside of the white American one. This work is important exactly because of what you bring up here – these communities can sometimes assume because they are not white Americans, they do not perpetuate anti-Black racism. There are good primers on how South Asian, East Asian, and Arab communities historically and currently perpetuate anti-Blackness, for example (this is part of the education work I am trying to be involved in in my own Palestinian community). So one of the things we can do is try to get Europeans to share their experiences and think more critically about how anti-Blackness does occur in their community, either in explicit or implicit ways.

Implicit bias is a narrow framework for conceptualising racism (because there are larger forms of structural injustice above and beyond implicit bias that constrain the success of black people, legacies of historical forms that were more visible and codified than they are now), but it’s an important starting point, particularly for those who think they are immune to racial discrimination. This report from the Kirwan Institute at the Ohio State University is a great resource — it’s readable and reviews and explains the research on implicit bias. Very worth reading if you think that because you can’t see racism around you, you don’t perpetuate it in a range of ways.

There are other approaches we can also discuss. In Europe especially, people tend to disconnect histories of colonial domination from current racial inequalities.

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I don’t think that at all. In fact, because you can’t see it, you perpetuate it. At least, that was what I did. My personal bias was insufficient vigilance. I would think and say things like “surely he did not really mean that” or “it’s just a bad joke”. Then @medhin_paolos and, later, @nadia helped me see that I was wrong. Most of the times wrong – not just a batch of mistakes, but a bias proper. A systematic error.

Here it looks like African-Europeans might be not targeted as much as others (Arab-Europeans, for example). But I am not sure, at all, and it probably varies across countries.

I guess. But that recognition is not an actionable, except in making sure that stuff does not happen again. There is a parallel with fascism/WW2/Holocaust: yes, 1930 Germans and Italians accumulated many literal skeletons in their closets, but it’s not fair to blame contemporary Germans and Italians for that stuff. I feel no contrition for my great-grandfather and his countrymen allowing Mussolini to get away with it (my grandfathers were not of voting age when he came to power in 1922). Anti-fascists in these countries try to make sure fascism does not happen there again. Anti-colonialism takes the form of ethical consumption (fair trade) and opposing certain features of 1990s style globalization – the chances of King Philippe of Belgium claiming Congo again are very slim, so colonialism is now overseas predatory capitalism.

I was using a universal “you” not an alberto “you”, sorry :slight_smile:

The last point is not just a “try not to repeat history”. It has a direct implication for resisting anti-immigration sentiment, even tempered versions of anti-immigration sentiments. Even people who think they are anti-racist can often say things like “there needs to be some kind of reasonable restriction on immigration” from countries that the country they inhabit actively pillaged in recent colonial history to build its economy and make it a desirable place to live.

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Well you know I am interested in this topic. one of the challenges is the costs associated with actually doing this work as a member of the minority. I mean this not in financial terms. More like this:

One of the ways I have gone about doing this is just do but don’t talk about it. Actively seeking out people who have a different perspective because you know, it makes us smarter - not because it is inherently good. No moralising and no arguments/approaches that rely on normative thinking.

Also, another question is how to go about doing this work/contributing to the struggle without being lumped in with the imo pointlessly vitriolic part of the movements. People that shout at others because they make a misstep in keeping up with changing terminology, musical letter combos etc. My own stance/attitude is much much closer to chappelle than the tone or language policers.

It’s something maybe the ethno and ssna approach could help with because people can get on talking about whatever we are interested in, and then those topics might pop up there. But your participation is as a person interested in this or that field or nerdy thing first and foremost, not as an experiencer of one anti blackness racism or another.

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No worries, I was also doing that!

It’s about replacing the “just so” stories with an understanding of history — and a resulting commitment to righting historical wrongs. Step 1 is the recognition that not everyone starts on the same line, so concrete steps need to be taken to create more opportunities for those who start out with less. But step 2 is actually understanding WHY some people have started out further behind, and why some started ahead. Denaturalising success helps some successful people (who have greater access to wealth and power to change things) understand why they have a personal responsibility to contribute to reducing social inequality and helps them understand that they didn’t get where they are due to pure talent or hard work.

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Yeah, totally. One of the things we’re trying to do with this statement is not let graduate students who just want to performatively express outrage take the reins and alienate everyone else. We’re trying to outline clear steps toward making concrete changes in hiring processes, curriculum, and invited speakers. If you let those other pointlessly vitriolic voices in they just tear it all down and claim they were fighting for justice (and of course, it’s often the white kids doing that because they want to perform allyship!)

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that & avoiding the entangling of distractive performative politics stuff between the uselesses with platforms

https://twitter.com/GossiTheDog/status/1268552988509044738

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Haha most def. The beginning to the direct action document a friend and I created after Trump was elected started like this:

WHAT THIS IS ABOUT: Preventing a friend’s prediction—“I think the Republicans are about to accomplish a lot with ruthless efficiency while the people and the media get distracted by bullshit Twitter drama and the like”—by knowing where to direct our time and energy with the same focus and efficiency, in sustainable, effective ways.


My direct action/intervention template regardless of the issue is about identifying 2 things:

Where is your time most effectively invested (based on the time you have to give and your own strengths and interests)?

Where are the places that direct action will be most effective? e.g. what should we target to get the result we want?

The difference between performative politics and effective politics is on this front, imo. I learn from the BDS movement — hit them where it actually hurts (in the modern age, usually their wallets). And help people play to their strengths, when you have a large group of people who are good at different things.

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I think a huge problem in Europe – which is really coming to the fore right now – is that when something like this happens in the US, we are quick to condemn it while patting ourselves on the back for not having those issues/having overcome them (not true at all btw). Time and again, European countries engage in solidarity protests (which they absolutely should), but they fail to turn that critical lens on themselves. Germany (where I grew up, was educated and which is the focus of my research) has major, ongoing xenophobic, racist and Islamophobic cultural practices and policies that it still hasn’t addressed. At school, for example, there is also little mention of Germany’s colonial history.

So, what should we do here? A LOT. For example: education reform that includes more and more critical discussion of (a) colonialism and its contemporary implications, (b) migration and diaspora communities, we need more action against right wing political parties that are on the rise across the continent and this needs to be paired with policy reform that (a) makes newcomers’ access and inclusion within the economy and society faster and (b) takes the onus off of them to ‘integrate’ into our society – their perceived failure to integrate is often fuel for further xenophobic attacks (e.g. the countless attacks on refugee homes by right wing groups)

We need to mobilise international participation and support for the movement in the United States AND we have to confront the systems in our countries that are racist.

Images from Berlin’s so-called ‘party protest’ this weekend are case in point that there is a lot to be done https://www.dw.com/en/berlin-police-break-up-floating-party-protest/a-53652185

Partiers floating on rafts along the Spree river and blasting techno music are not the images of solidarity we need right now, and holding up “I can’t breathe” posters as you dance and drink on rafts makes for a hollow and frankly, tone deaf message. We need to do better than this.

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Time and again, European countries engage in solidarity protests (which they absolutely should), but they fail to turn that critical lens on themselves. Germany (where I grew up, was educated and which is the focus of my research) has major, ongoing xenophobic, racist and Islamophobic cultural practices and policies that it still hasn’t addressed. At school, for example, there is also little mention of Germany’s colonial history.

something for @atelli and her upcoming session about precarity in higher education.

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thanks for this call to arms @amelia.
The footages we are seeing from worldwide protests are daily wake up calls. How exactly are you pressuring corporations to donate?

I believe @alex_levene is also very much in an activist mode and could have additional resources to share.

Something also for @aysebatur as one of the panelists in our session.