Ways you can help:
If you feel helpless, there are ways you can channel your rage and sadness in real life.
1. Join a peaceful protest.
They’re happening all around the country tonight, including at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, around 7 p.m. Eastern.
2. Recognize that Michael Brown’s death was not an isolated incident.
In 2012, more than 300 black people were executed by police, security guards, or vigilantes. In the last month, three other unarmed African-American men—Eric Garner in New York, John Crawford III in Beavercreek, Ohio, and Ezell Ford in Los Angeles—have been killed by police. Those are the ones we know about.
3. Stop saying “This can’t be happening in America.”
I understand the impulse, I really do. But that impulse only comes to those who are insulated and isolated from how America treats poor people and people of color every day. Langston Hughes wrote “America never was America to me” in 1935. If you didn’t quite understand that poem in your junior high or high-school lit classes, read it again, while you think about what’s happening in Ferguson. Let it sink in.
4. STFU about looting.
And call out your friends and family members who won’t. It’s been five days since Michael Brown was murdered. On one of those days, some furious, grieving citizens caused some property damage. Nine have been arrested. Every other day since then, police with more gear than American soldiers going into battle have been occupying the neighborhood where Brown died, attacking peaceful protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets. They’ve tear-gassed a state senator and Al-Jazeera reporters, and arrested an alderman. They’ve demanded that reporters leave the area and arrested two who didn’t move fast enough. “Disproportionate” doesn’t begin to describe it. If you look at all that and still think it’s important to talk about looting for “balance,” you should know that you sound like a racist asshole.
5. Look Around You.
If you live in an urban environment, you’re in a position to bear witness and document inappropriate and abusive police behavior. If you see an African-American neighbor being detained by police, wait to see what happens. Get your phone out. Download the ACLU’s “Police Tape” app, and if you see something that looks off, take a video that will upload directly to their servers, in case your phone is confiscated. Whatever police may tell you, this is your legal right.
7. Educate yourself about the systematic inequality that leads to civil unrest.
The St. Louis American ran a powerful editorial today that fleshes out the history of Ferguson. When you finish reading that, go somewhere quiet for a bit and settle down with Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “The Case for Reparations.” Don’t stop there.
8. Put pressure on your elected representatives.
Institutional abuse of African-American citizens is happening all over the country, and it demands a federal response. Talk to your senators and congresspeople about enacting policies to protect citizens from their protectors. While you’re at it, maybe suggest they work to limit the amount of military weaponry police can inherit from the armed forces.
9. Listen to your African-American friends when they try to tell you why this hurts.
If you don’t have any African-American friends, you might want to think about why that is.
10. Okay, go ahead and tweet.
And Facebook. Tumblr. Instagram. Vine. Amplify the voices of people on the ground, and help counteract the damaging narratives being propagated by some mainstream media organizations. It’s the very least we can do.
For white people wanting to know what they can do to help.
The phrase “rubber bullets” is often used to describe what are more accurately termed “rubber-coated metal bullets”, heavy steel projectiles with a minimal coating of 1mm or 2mm of rubber, that are regularly used to lethal effect alongside — not instead of — live ammunition.
Rubber-coated metal bullets are fired from metal tubes placed on the end of high-velocity rifles such as the M-16s commonly used by Israeli troops. Tubes contain around 8 rubber-coated, cylindrical, steel projectiles, which are powered by blank rounds fired from the gun’s magazine.
Writing in the medical journal, The Lancet, [doctors] said firing the bullets at civilians made it “impossible to avoid severe injuries to vulnerable body regions such as the head, neck and upper torso, leading to substantial mortality, morbidity and disability.”
They added: “We reported a substantial number of severe injuries and fatalities inflicted by use of rubber bullets when vulnerable upper-body regions such as the head, neck and upper torso were struck.
“This type of ammunition should therefore not be considered a safe method of crowd control.”
As many as 15 percent of freshmen at America’s top schools are white students who failed to meet their university’s minimum standards for admission, according to Peter Schmidt, deputy editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education. These kids are “people with a long-standing relationship with the university,” or in other words, the children of faculty, wealthy alumni and politicians.
According to Schmidt, these unqualified but privileged kids are nearly twice as common on top campuses as Black and Latino students who had benefited from affirmative action.
This is EXTREMELY blatant on college campuses. The fact that these things need to be clarified is sad.
Legacy is the real affirmative action…and yet we don’t see certain types of entitled people suing to dismantle that.