The other day, after making a blog post imploring my white loved ones to get more engaged with social justice and anti-racism, I decided to follow through with my own advice by engaging with my local elected officials and leaders. I’m writing to you about it now because I want you to know how easy and essential it is. If for any reason you can’t participate in physical protests, there are more ways you can get involved and show your support for the Black Lives Matter movement and ending police brutality.
Go to a search engine. Search for the following categories of people: police chief, mayor, city council, school board, county government, congressional representatives, and any other municipal leaders that may be unique to your area. Every single one of these should have contact information on their web sites. Now, make yourself a list and start contacting people.
Personally, I’m working on making it a daily habit. While I believe in the importance of national activism, I also know certain folks at the top of the power structures have a vested interest in business as usual. Grassroots organizing at the local level has always been essential, and now is a perfect time for all of us who are stuck at home to start learning the ropes.
And I do have some good news to share on this front as well. I had the nicest conversation as a result of my first round of emails sent out to local officials. On Tuesday I sent a message to the county executive asking him: What are you and the county doing to end police brutality, white supremacy, and prison labor? In response, I received a phone call from a man named Vincent Moulden in the county executive’s office.
Talking with Mr. Moulden was a breath of fresh air because it reminded me that many people are genuinely trying to make a difference. We talked about how our local leadership could help spread better community engagement practices. We’re all asking cops to be accountable, for transparency at the top, for body cameras and better laws, but as citizens we can also change the way we interact with each other. I’m asking my local leaders to help spread the message of anti-racism. I want to see strong messaging about accountability within our community. To be specific, I’d like our local government to educate white people about when it is and is not appropriate to call the police. I’d also like to see more government support for social programs and organizations that help lift people out of poverty and desperation. I also want community engagement on mental health issues so people who are suffering can get real help and break out of toxic cycles. I’d love to see a community so thriving, so mutually supportive, that the only job we need cops for is controlling traffic on the 4th of July. Talking with Mr. Moulden for a few minutes helped me believe that even if my idealized future isn’t just over the horizon, there are many people in my community working toward the same thing. And together, we are bound to make progress.
I know a lot of heavy things are still happening and now is not the time to get carried away with wishful thinking, but change is coming. Now is the time to take heart in one another and keep pushing. I love you. I’m proud of your efforts. Let’s keep going.