10 Ways You Can Help Fight for Racial Justice - South Jersey Land & Water Trust
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10 Ways You Can Help Fight for Racial Justice

TEN ACTIONS YOU CAN UNDERTAKE FOR RACIAL JUSTICE

Modified from 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice

1. Direct Participation: Join with groups that are working to effect change or improve conditions in areas that are largely minority in population. This includes everything from joining your local Black Lives Matter chapter (blacklivesmatter.com) to participating in the South Jersey Land and Water Trust’s (sjlandwater.org) habitat protection and enhancement project with the Camden Power Corps at the Cramer Hill Preserve in Camden.

2. Police Actions: Find out if your local police department outfits all on-duty police officers with a body-worn camera and requires that the camera be turned on immediately when officers respond to a police call. Also find out if your city or town currently employs evidence-based police de-escalation trainings. The racial make-up of your town doesn’t matter for either item – they need to be standard everywhere. If they don’t use these techniques, write to your city or town government and police chief to advocate for both measures. Solicit others to advocate as well.

3. Political Action: Research and promote candidates that support racial justice and equity issues, including donating to organizations that are working to get out the vote, to restore voting rights to disenfranchised voters, and to put women of color into elected office, such as The Collective PAC (collectivepac.org). Attend town halls, candidate meet-and-greets, etc., to ask candidates to support your views. Research your local prosecutors, who have a lot of power regarding sentencing and influencing judges’ bail decisions, and work for the election of those who are fair-minded.

4. Criminal Justice: Call or write your federal and state legislators and governor for criminal justice reform including reducing mandatory minimum sentences, reducing sentences for non-violent drug crimes, passing “safety valve” laws to allow judges to depart from minimum sentences, providing alternatives to incarceration, and requiring racial impact statements for all criminal justice bills.

5. Business Actions: Advocate to your city or town government to divest from banks that are financing private prisons, detention centers, the Dakota Access Pipeline. Here are two resources.
Boycott companies that use prison labor https://returntonow.net/2016/06/13/prison-labor-is-the-new-american-slavery/or fund white supremacist groups through their advertising (https://actions.sumofus.org/a/amazon-stop-investing-in-hate)
Support black businesses. Find them here:
6. Prison Changes: Write to the US Sentencing Commission (ussc.gov) email:
(PubAffairs@ussc.gov) and ask them to:
  • Reform the career offender guideline to lessen the length of sentences
  • Change the criminal history guidelines so that a person’s criminal record counts against them less
  • Change guidelines to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes
  • Conduct a study to review the impact of parental incarceration on minor children
  • With more data, the Commission could modify the Sentencing Guidelines and allow judges to take this factor into account when sentencing individuals for non-violent crimes.
  • Conduct a study to review whether the Bureau of Prisons is following the Commission’s encouragement to file a motion for compassionate release whenever “extraordinary and compelling reasons” exist.
  • Consider amending the guidelines to reduce sentences for first offenders.
  • Change the guidelines so that more people get probation

7. Cash Bail: Contact your state legislators to urge ending cash bail. Support organized efforts to this end by donating to groupsto groups such as The Bail Project (bailproject.org). Cash bail requirements mean that someone who is legally innocent is put in jail because they can’t afford bail. It means that a defendant can be released pre-trial because of their wealth, not how much of a flight risk they are.

8. Self Education: Learn about conscious and unconscious biases that white folks have. There are many books, movies, videos, and podcasts relevant to this. Form groups to discuss, such as a focused book club or a church discussion group. Join a local “white space” to learn more or, if there’s not a group in your area, start one: https://www.ywcastl.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/18/WHY-WHITE-SPACE.-WITNESSING-WHITENESS.pdf
There are many resources. Here are a few: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander; Caught by Marie Gottschalk; Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates; Orange is the New Black; The Color of Law; Teaching to Transgress by Bell Hooks; The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones; PBS’s resources for teaching slavery; People of Color Online Classroom blog; The first time I realized I was black videos (https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/02/us/first-time-i-realized-i-was-black/) Seek out a diverse group of friends for your children and also for yourself.
9. Education of children: Buy books and toys and find videos that feature people of color as protagonists and heroes and donate to your local school or a teacher. Work on ensuring that black educators are hired where black children are being taught. Here are some book resources:

Grassroots Community Foundation Mahogany Books American Indians in Children’s Literature Black History Month Books

10. Listen and speak up. Truly listen without ego and defensiveness to people of color. Speak up against racism in social media and wherever you see or hear it. Don’t be silent about a racist joke. Silence is support. Talk to white people you know to encourage awareness of racism’s existence and impact. For those you know who are overtly racist, think of ways to expose them to people who are different from them. Concentrate on children, adolescents and young adults being raised by overtly racist parents. Befriend them. Perhaps tutor them to help them get onto a college track. Show them the achievements and beauty of non-white cultures. Be creative.


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