BLACK LIVES MATTER : thoughts + action items in solidarity
founders of the black lives matter movement: alicia garza, opal tometi, and patrisse cullors-brignac. add to your reading list: "when they call you a terrorist: a black lives matter memoir" by patrisse cullors and ashe bandele.last week, i scrolled through about 50 wellness industry instagram stories to see who was speaking out about black lives matter (blm). i was looking for guidance – how to express what i felt, as a woman of color, while remaining professional and non-offensive to my mostly-white customer base. to my dismay, i found only five accounts that even remotely mentioned anything related to blm. this infuriated me. (sidenote: the correlation between this silence and the fact that the wellness industry is vastly white, culturally appropriated and largely accessible only to the elite who can afford it (ie, goop) seems undeniable, and is fit for another standalone post). i knew in my heart that i needed to do something to raise awareness, to stand for what i believe in, even if it creates difficult conversations, and even if i lose clients. because unfortunately, in america, skin color matters. i work with skin. i’ve been a licensed esthetician since my early 20s, and in 2008, started skinSALVATION. the main ethos of my business has always been to empower my clients with the tools they need to take charge of their own skin, so that they aren’t reliant on treatments to stay clear of acne. i want to free people from the hindrance of acne, so that they could be their best and fully confident selves, allowing them to focus on the meaningful contributions they have to give to the world. the fact that the color of a person’s skin is a hindrance to the life they should be living is simply wrong. i work with people of all skin colors. i hear stories, from clients, from friends, from people of color; real-life testimonies of discrimination i have never personally experienced. i heard from one girlfriend how tough it was to have kaiser permanente provide the care they promise in their ads, about the trouble she had to go through to get an appointment for her debilitating condition. i heard how a friend’s husband, using his given “ethnic name,” couldn’t get callbacks on job interviews, but switching to his “white” sounding middle name, scored a ton of in-person interviews. i heard from clients, so many of them brilliant and hardworking professionals, how they made it into the corporate world as the “diversity quota hire,” but were held back from promotions. these professionals often watched their white co-workers surpass them, with even less credentials or experience. and i’ve repeatedly heard about the talks my friends give to their kids, about how to behave when they are stopped by the police on their way home from school (aka racial profiling). i’m a light-skinned, chinese-american woman. even though i was raised by a single, immigrant mother; and even though, by choice, i didn’t finish high school, i realize that compared with many i people i know, i was raised with privilege. i’ve never had a hard time getting medical attention or jobs, and i started my own business with relative ease. and for damn sure, i didn’t get talked to by my mother about anything more serious than staying away from drugs and kids that cut school. i grew up thinking the police were my friends, positive community leaders to call on whenever trouble came along. i’m so fortunate and incredibly privileged. i’ll never be able to imagine the constant fear and trauma our black brothers and sisters live with every single day, as their ancestors have done for the 400+ years since being thrown into the cargo holds of slave ships, as they’ve had to face the threat of lynching, the cross burnings of the ku klux klan, the real danger from those sworn to protect them. but i can use my voice and privilege to speak out, and round up my folks. it is long past time. it is a long hard road, but together we can and must overcome these injustices. we need all hands on deck. we need you, because BLACK LIVES MATTER!
HISTORY CHECKbefore i get into sharing action items, i want to remind you that in the US: women, especially white women; people of color, especially immigrants, and the LGBTQ+ community all got the benefits we enjoy today because of the sacrifices and leadership by black activists and freedom fighters in the civil rights movement. it was the civil rights movement that propelled the women's, gay, and roe vs. wade movements. black americans are long overdue the thanks they deserve for fighting so selflessly for people like us, who enjoy the privileges that they are still being systematically denied. they showed up for us, and now we need to show up for them! *the immigration act at the time centered greeks, poles, portuguese and italians, whom the quota discriminated against in favor of northern europeans. think about this if you now identify as "white" and think the BLM movement is not your problem.
marsha p. johnson, prominent figure of the stonewall uprising of 1969
what to doin the running resource list below, i've included the same black writers and thinkers i am learning so much from, black community organizations and businesses to support, black wellness experts that are so generously offering tools for us all to heal collectively and so much more. PLEASE share these resources with people in your communities, especially the wellness ones with black friends, colleagues and loved ones that need extra support right now. this is a time of mixed emotions that are often paralyzing. but you can't curl up into a ball and disappear, we need you now! doing the work, as different as it may look for each person, is essential. taking action is the only way out of this racist, patriarchal construct that creates more harm than good for us all, and for future generations. FINALLY, these action items are for everyone who is not black to dive deep into and use, including and especially light-skinned, "white-adjacent" people like me. indigenous and brown people are also very much treated unfairly, but because black people are disproportionately discriminated against, it's important to center the fight for justice around them now. when black lives matter, every other marginalized community will be lifted up!
GET STARTEDthe first step in doing this work is deep, honest and uncomfortable exploration of self. learning how we ourselves are racist (and how we got that way), how we have benefitted from our privilege (at often times, at the cost of others' not getting it), and most importantly, exactly how to become anti-racist. the above graphic has been circulating on IG, and it's tough to look at. we must be honest, what in this image have we been a part of, and now that we know, what are we going to do to change that? in the words of angela davis, "In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be ACTIVELY anti-racist.' allow yourself to process all the emotions that come up, and if you are not black, it is so important NOT TO TURN AWAY. inform yourself by watching the videos of what's happening on the frontlines of protests, police brutality, and listen to the voices of our black brothers and sisters sharing what their experiences have been for the last 400+ years. learn what it's like to literally feel and be hunted, to be oppressed for generations and generations. it is a true privilege to learn about racism, instead of experiencing it your whole life. really getting to know and empathizing with the struggle of black people worldwide will help you learn how to be a better co-conspirator in the fight for justice. you will be confused, and afraid of doing or saying things for fear of "doing it wrong." but the silence while figuring it out is deadly - black lives (and many others) are literally being lost while we wait to feel ready and comfortable enough to do the work. form friend groups to process what's happening, where you can be vulnerable in a safe space, and learn from each other on how to do better. the main thing is, start, learn and course-correct along the way. there is no perfect way to do anything, the most important thing is that you simply start.
checking in - some pointersDO NOT ask your black friends what to do, or tell them how you think they should cope, what "good things" you're doing or unload your emotional guilt or sadness on them. they don't owe anyone more emotional or intellectual labor than they already deal with on a daily basis. do the research to empower yourself, and let your love show by your actions! DO send love to your black friends, and let them know you are available for them whenever they need. and don't expect a response back. they are going through it and need to practice self-preservation, which may include not responding to you immediately (or if at all). it's not about you, so don't take it personal. however, feel free to buy and send them a meal, a case of wine, send some love notes or seriously, straight up send them a venmo! especially if they are in the social justice space, putting the work in so that WE can learn about how the systems we benefit from are oppressing THEM. MOST IMPORTANTLY, check in with your NON-BLACK community and have those difficult conversations about white supremacy. what do they feel about what's going on? do they even recognize it? what do they plan to do about it? who are they voting for and why, and how will they hold those elected accountable? are they talking to their parents, families, friends, colleagues, etc etc?
action itemsREGISTER TO VOTE!! probably THE MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do, is to register and to actually vote. it's people that have the "one vote won't matter" mentality that got us in this political mess in the first place, so don't one of those. registering literally takes less than 2 minutes. the next presidential election is this november and we need to make sure each and every single vote counts!!
SIGN PETITIONS to reopen cases for full investigationssigning petitions take less than 1-2 minutes to do, longer if you want to write a personal note. i've also heard that sending snail mail actually counts for more, so if you're able to write and send a postcard to the local government offices where these crimes occur, do that too! here is an article on how to help black trans people now, who's deaths are usually swept under the rug and ignored. there are petitions in this article to sign too. breonna taylor was an award-winning EMT who planned on going to nursing school. she was shot to death while asleep in her own home, when police came looking for a suspect at the wrong house, who was already in custody. she would have turned 27 years old on june 5, 2020. nina pop was a 28 year old trans-woman who was murdered in her missouri apartment as a result of anti-black LGBTQ+ violence. the murderer has been arrested and is awaiting trial, the petition is to raise awareness. tony dade a trans-man who was killed by the police in tallahassee, florida. "crimes against trans-people are grossly underreported. in less than a week of being released from prison, tony had been robbed, survived a car crash, had his heart broken by the woman he thought loved him, and was violently attacked by 5 men as bystanders cheered on while live-streaming his beating on social media. all of this, before being gunned down by police. tony deserved better than that, and he most certainly doesn’t deserve our judgement in death." - shared from ashley marie preston kendrick johnson he was 17 when he was brutally murdered in his high school gym in 2013. the details on the internet are gruesome, do an internet search if you want to find out more. this petition was shared by kim kardashian (i know, sorry) to reopen and do a full investigation on his case. though the petition synopsis is very poorly written, the point is to get enough public pressure on the goverment officials to get justice served! marshae jones a 27-year-old pregnant woman in alabama got shot in the stomach, killing her baby, is now in jail and charged for failing to protect her unborn child. the woman who shot her was not indicted. UPDATE: the manslaughter charges against marshae were dropped! you can read about the confusion of the law in the article linked above.
police force defunding and regulationdivest inflated police budgets to instead fund social services, access to food, healthcare, housing, education, parks, jobs, youth programs, restorative justice, and mental health workers to create better + safer communities, not police them! tarana burke, founder of the #metoo movement, created a great slideshow explaining the #defundpolice movement. to be clear: divesting does not mean totally shutting down the police. it means to take some of their already insanely inflated funding and moving it to service and care for the communities that need it most (like education, affordable housing, human services, parks + rec and transportation). the SFPD spent $611 million dollars in 2018-2019, oakland $264 million (out of the city's $592m) and LAPD spends $3.14 billion with a B (1/3 of the total city budget; AND he was trying to raise it by 7%!!!). think of it as taking just a few million of jeff bezos' trillion dollar fortune, and giving that to schools that need new books. defund berkeley police department petition - sign defund oakland police department - learn more and donate sf mayor london breed has already promised to defund the SFPD, so hold her accountable by writing and calling the mayor's office require racial bias and psychological evaluations for all police every 6-12 months - sign require virginia PD to have de-escalation training - sign
BAY AREA organizations to donate toin terms of donating, if you can, please do. even if it's just $5! every little bit counts. over the years skinSALVATION has donated thousands of dollars to causes near and dear to my heart, including monthly contributions to the ACLU and to careergirls.org, a non-profit started by my good friend (and longest-running client!) linda calhoun. there are a ton of organizations doing good work, but i decided to center my list around the smaller local organizations that often fall through the cracks, since the bigger national orgs have been getting the center stage spotlight (and are getting overfunded!) these days. please let me know if you know of non-profit orgs that are black-led and of service to the black community in the bay area! most i found that were credible were oakland based. here's a list of ways to support the black LGBTQ+ community. the east oakland collective serving oakland's unhoused brothers/sisters and other vulnerable populations (seniors, disabled, immune-compromised, low-income families) with food and critical health supplies. you can donate here. bail for protesters in jail with bails as high as $250k for protestors arrested in sacramento, all the brave people (many of them youth students!) that got arrested need as much help as possible to get bailed out. the bay area anti-repression committee fund has a donation drive started (and have plenty of other resources on their page), and broke ass stuart wrote a great article on how the bail system works, and mentions many bay area funds to contribute to. people's breakfast oakland is a socialist org serving the people of oakland, that helps the houseless of oakland. they also have an educational podcast called hella black podcast that uplifts the of black radical organizers that are doing the work on the field usually not reported in mainstream news. you can donate here, just scroll to the bottom. TGI justice project focuses on supporting the trans, gender variant and intersex community in and out of the prison, jail and detention centers of the bay area by facilitating re-entry programs for those coming out of the incarceration system, and connecting them with legal support. you can donate here. anti-terror police project a black-led, multi-racial and multi-generational non-profit dedicated to supporting the victims and families of police brutalization in communities of color by documenting police inflicted abuse, and connecting them with resources such as legal representation and healing. they hold events and meet regularly. it seems they are oakland based, and have a sacramento branch as well. you can donate here. the center for black equity the global leader of the black LGBTQ+ pride movement, and national leader connecting the community to resources and education. careergirls founded by my good friend and mentor (and one of my very first facial clients!) linda calhoun. she's created a wonderful non-profit and database centered around professional women of color, to inspire girls (and boys!) all over the world to reach for the dreams, no matter the color of their skin, no matter where they are. the site is wonderfully diverse with women of all backgrounds speaking to all aspects of their jobs, sharing tools and encouragement on exactly how to get into those industries. it's also brilliantly abundant with resources for educators, mentors and parents - like toolkits, activities and posters! i love linda and this work of hers, and am proud to be a monthly donor to empower future generations. you can donate here. donate for free by streaming if money is tight, you can donate for free by streaming any of the videos on this youtube playlist i compiled. by letting these videos play and not clicking away from the ads, all the money generated from the ads played will be donated to BLM. the strategist has a list of 135 orgs to donate to, benefitting black lives and POC's
black writers + thinkers to read, listen and learn fromplease consider buying your books at america's oldest black-owned bookstore called marcus books in oakland in-store (they're open!) and soon, online. they're still working on their website, but here's the contact page they've got now, including an order request form and mailing list at the bottom of the page, until their official website launches. i've started a running youtube playlist of our great black speakers and artists, that you can listen to while you do things (i like to paint and do dishes while listening!). in addition to the greats: angela davis audre lorde june jordan toni morrison james baldwin malcolm x martin luther king check out: ijeoma oluo seattle-based author of "so you want to talk about race," a great practical guide on doing exactly that rachel cargle akron, ohio based writer, public academic, and founder of so many amazing social justice focused brands (including the loveland foundation, offering free therapy to black women and the great unlearning, a donation-based uncensored american history course). sonya renee taylor new zealand based queer poet, activist and author of "the body is not an apology, the power of radical self love" and "celebrate your body and it's changes too," written for girls about puberty. ibram x. kendi author of "how to be antiracist," and many others, including a children's book "antiracist baby" coming out june 16, 2020. he wrote that "being an antiracist requires persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination." ta-nehisi coates writer and journalist, author of "between the world and me," a letter to his son about growing up black in america.
black businesses to support in the bay arearoots plant nursery you can buy + roadside pickup tues-sun 1-5pm owned by sf native blasian (black and asian!) owner michelle, she outfitted our last clinic with all of our plants. her shop on 16th and south van ness was my refuge when i needed some comfort on a tough day, she is so generous with her love with me. visiting her shop is an instant mood booster and bonus, she has 2 cute older puppies to pet. :) black earth farms you can donate or buy from them run by black and indigenous folks, they have CSA boxes on a sliding scale, but prioritize the distribution of food to students, houseless folx, elderly folx, indigenous, afro, trans, and gender non-conforming folks. sfgate's article on more black owned farms and CSA's you can support relove you can buy from them via instagram or at their SF store owned and operated by my good friend delila, relove is a haven for fashionable used clothing to buy or sell. you'll find great basics, niche brands and amazing designer vintage. joy street design owned and operated by my friend and colleague kelly, she's one of interior design's few black designers based in the heart of oakland. here's sf chronicle food writer soleil ho's comprehensive list of black-owned restaurants in the bay area and eater sf's article with links to an LA list. marcus books you can buy books from them, or donate to keep their shop open as mentioned earlier, america's oldest black owned bookstore in oakland. one united bank america's largest black-owned bank, you can move your savings and checking accounts over to them online OR just open up a savings account and keep a nest egg there. letting your money sit in community and black banks like one united helps them gain capital to make loans for the communities they serve, creating economic literacy and independence. (i have a personal savings account at one united, and all skinSALVATION accounts are at self-help federal credit union, who focus on empowering the black and brown communities of the bay area). EXTRA BLACK BUSINESS LISTS the strategist has a list of 125 black businesses to support
to keep up to date on news affecting the black community locally and nationallytheblackbayarea an organization dedicated to preserving and encouraging black culture to thrive in the bay area here's a list of black centered news outlets shaun king speaker, author and activist, founder of grassrootslaw.org, who grew up with.. lee merrit esq the civil rights attorney who represents many families of black lives lost, including ahmaud arbery. * there is some controversy around shaun king's fundraising efforts and use of "trauma porn" to publicize black crime cases, but his instagram feed is very up to date, he was the first modern black activist i've learned from and he has organized many successful large scale petitions and rallies to bring criminals to justice. * however, he released documentation (including bank statements, tax returns, FEC reports to the government and statements from families he's helped. * it's a bit confusing because most all the black women writers i respect aren't down with shaun, i'm not sure if it's an MLK/malcom x rivalry thing where they share the same end goal, but very different approaches. * in any case, if you know of another news source as up to date, please share them with me.
black wellness expertsdr. tiffany lester MD SF's parsley health practitioner is an sS'er, and at parsley health integrates holistic and conventional medicine for all-around medical care. @drtiffanylester on IG dr. lisa upshaw, acupuncturist based in LA, i found her on instagram and she's generously shared many tools you can integrate for relieving stress during these times. @drlisaupshaw on IG the wellness of we was a 7 day virtual conference of speakers working together towards true, all-inclusive, collective wellness. their talks were recorded and were very inspiring to me personally, to keep skinsalvation going in the midst of covid and recent BLM happenings. @thebigwe on IG kevin curry of fitmencook i found him on instagram, and love his upbeat personality and very easy to follow paleo-inspired recipes (sometimes you'll have to omit dairy). @fitmencook on IG lalah delia author of "vibrate higher daily," a black prolific spiritual writer in a sea of white authors. her messages are powerful and timely, i love seeing her posts on my IG feed for daily uplift and encouragement through tough times. @lalahdelia on IG
support black film and tvthere are sooooo many. here's a short list to start you off: amistad 12 years a slave time: the kalief browder story selma hidden figures 13 when they see us insecure (i lovvvve this show) trigger warning with killer mike (a rapper and social justice activist)
talks to help you understand the black american experience:here's a youtube playlist of black speakers and musical artists, which include the ones below and more. please let me know if there are any you like so that i can add them! kimberly jones speech about black americans' systematic economic defeats (7 minutes) trevor noah's 18 minute monologue activist and rapper killer mike, atlanta native, speaking to his city to get their shit together! this is a prime example of how to round your people up to plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize for the fight for justice. jane elliott first started teaching about racism the day after martin luther king jr. got killed, to her class of third graders. here's a 7 min video of her talking a little about it with jimmy fallon, one where she checks a room full of people in 45 seconds, and a 30 minute vintage 1992 episode of oprah, where she conducts the "blue eye/brown eye" exercise demonstrating and conversing about racism.
musichere are some very thoughtfully and deeply researched spotify playlists compiled by my good friend craig, that combine hip hop, soul, speeches and soundbites from great black artists and leaders. i asked him to write a few blurbs explaining the background behind the playlist names, which are included below. they've pumped me up and hope they too keep you inspired and enthusiastic about the fight ahead! fear of a black planet The title Fear Of A Black Planet speaks to the insanity that overtakes white folks whenever high profile figures from the subjugated class demonstrate autonomy or speak out with their own authority on topics of race and inequality. It can be seen in the image of Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists in solidarity for the black power movement on the olympic podium at the Mexico City games in 1968 and traced through to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in protest of police brutality during the 2016 NFL season. This playlist was also informed by the 2008 documentary Salute by Matt Norman, the book, Revolt Of The Black Athlete by Harry Edwards, and the movie, High Flying Bird by Steven Soderbergh. --- Social Justice Grenadiers, Right To Assemble Dragoons, and Radical Ideology Lancers co-opts British military terminology (Grenadiers, Dragoons, and Lancers) and combines them with the language of social justice reform. These terms were chosen in direct contextual response to the ways in which the current administration has chosen to characterize lawfully peaceful protesters with criminalizing language such as "thugs" and "looters". social justice grenadiers Social Justice Grenadiers could be said to throw "thought bombs" right to assemble dragoons Right To Assemble Dragoons could be seen as the "mounted cavalry" of significantly numbered protesters demonstrating their constitutional right to free assembly radical ideology lancers Radical Ideology Lancers could be viewed as individuals who are "armored" with indefensible moral arguments against an unjust system --- the invisible contract
The Invisible Contract is best described in a recent article by Adam Serwer for the Atlantic.
It's about how black folks and people of color are supposedly "treated equal" in our so-called free society, until they come up against the invisible contract... which says they're not. These songs speak to that disparity.
anderson paak (a half black and half korean artist out of LA) just put out his video for his song "lockdown." the beats are awesome, his words are true and the imagery powerful.