Person holding up sign that says "I can't breathe."
Black Lives Matter, Mental health blog, Social Justice, social work

A month of silence for Black Lives Matter

I recently took a break from blogging to show respect for the Black Lives Matter movement. A month ago today, George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. The very next day, Regis Korchinski-Paquet died under suspicious circumstances after her family called the police to do a wellness check on her in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Two more names of two Black people to add to an unending Rolodex of lives lost too soon and for no other reason than they were living while Black. 

I am gutted and in mourning.

I certainly haven’t felt like continuing my blog series on my 30 x 30 challenge to get outside for 30 minutes a day for 30 days. I had one week left of insights, activities, and mental health research up my sleeve. But all that seems so trite and insignificant now. 

Instead, these past few weeks, I’ve dedicated myself to listening, learning, reflecting, amplifying, and taking action wherever I can. 

I stand in solidarity with my Black brothers and sisters and I wholeheartedly condemn Anti-Black Racism and bigotry. Black lives matter.

I continue to commit to the following actions and encourage others to as well:

Listen to Black people

  • Listening involves only your ears, not your mouth
  • Find accounts to follow on social media here and here

Learn about Black history, culture, and current struggles

  • Do not ask Black people to educate you on this – There is no excuse for this with such a plethora of free information available at your fingertips
  • Become one with Google and your local library
  • To get you started, check out this and this

Reflect on your privilege

  • Learn what privilege means and think about the ways you have it, the ways you don’t, and how it has benefitted you in your life to the detriment of others
  • Think about how you can use your privilege to help others
  • I was first introduced to this topic by Tim Wise – Check out one of his talks here

Amplify Black voices

  • Share their work
  • If you have the power to create space in some way, do (in partnership with the people you intend to create space for)

Donate to organizations dedicated to justice for Black lives

  • For a list of organizations to donate to in Canada, click here
  • For a list of organizations to donate to in the United States, click here

Buy from Black-owned businesses

  • For a list of businesses to support in Canada, click here
  • For a list of businesses to support in the United States, click here

Show up in the ways you can

  • Rallies and protests
  • Vigils
  • Online events
  • On the comment and reply threads of people spreading misinformation and/or willful ignorance
  • In the face of racist bigots spewing their hatred right before your very eyes

Talk to the kids in your life about what is happening in an age-appropriate way

  • Keep this conversation going throughout their lives
  • We cannot gloss over the big stuff in our world, no matter how hard it is

Initially, I felt stuck on the question of what I can do to help. I was afraid to get things wrong. But I remembered that it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to be called out. It’s how we learn and grow, no matter how uncomfortable it feels. 

I was also afraid of taking up too much space where I maybe shouldn’t be. It’s hard to know when to stand in front, when to walk alongside, and when to stand behind. It’s important to take cues from the communities that are affected and we are being asked to speak up and use our platforms and privilege right now.

The most important thing we can do, however, is to keep trying, without expectation of a reward. Don’t do it for praise. Don’t do it for thanks. Don’t expect an ‘ally’ badge to come your way. This is not the point of this work. Do it because it is just.

Show up even when you’ve made a mistake and someone got upset with you. Learn from it and do better next time. Show up even when people aren’t nice to you. People don’t need to be nice to you for you to fight for their liberation. Show up even when it will hurt your ‘brand’. Your brand ain’t worth shit if it can’t stand up for the world you want to live in. Show up when you might lose a friend or family member. There is no agreeing to disagree when it comes to bigotry. Just show the fuck up. And don’t stop.

Rest in power, Big Floyd, Regis, and all the beautiful lives lost before and after I finished this sentence.

A solidarity fist raised with the words "Black lives matter" written on their fingers.
Black Lives Matter
Tina Cumby, MSW, RSW
Tina Cumby, MSW, RSW

Tina Cumby, MSW, RSW, is an independent writer and creator of free content for mental health professionals. She has been employed as a social worker for four years and has another year of case management and policy development experience. She works primarily with adults living at the intersections of poverty, disability, and trauma at all levels of practice (micro, mezzo, and macro). Tina is particularly well versed in social work case management and student supervision.

If you found this content useful, please consider donating to an organization fighting for justice for Black lives.

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