“I believe that the reason that white supremacists are mobilizing so boldly and so openly is that they understand that they may lose this time. We can figure out how to change the system once and for all in a way that advantages equity.
Now I say that they may lose because I know that progress isn’t inevitable. It will take people doing real, tough work. The arc of justice may bend, but it only bends because people bend it. We need to continue to imagine, and we need to continue to fight.”
- DeRay McKesson, Activist, Organizer, and Educator
The white supremacist and neo-Nazi actions in Charlottesville over the weekend exposed the deeply-embedded racism, hate, and fear that many Americans still carry despite a narrative of progress popular in the United States since the Civil Rights movement.
Terrifying moments like these call for all of us, and especially white allies, to step up to take action to do our part to bend the arc towards justice. We encourage you to engage meaningfully at this time in the way that is right for you, but offer the following suggestions:
If you feel well enough (see self-care tips below), organize! We need folk who are ready to rapidly respond to hateful actions, and folk who are ready to commit for the long-haul work of committing to systemic change to overhaul racism.
Action to consider taking:
- Sign this petition and attend the rally on Saturday
- Donate to the Cville Legal Fund or the Southern Poverty Law Center
- Start or join an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion team at your organization
- Join an organization looking to make long-term systemic change, such as Showing Up for Racial Justice Boston, Jobs Not Jails, or City Life / Vida Urbana
2. Take care of your communities
If you have not been personally triggered by this weekend, consider the ways that you can step up to care for friends, family, colleagues, and clients of color who may be seeking extra support.
As we heard at the YNPN National conference this weekend, “There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be considered warriors” - Adrienne Rich
Actions to consider taking:
- Educate yourself. Knowledge is power! No one expects you to know all things, but please do take steps to arm yourself to be an effective advocate by reading from this syllabus or by taking a class at the Anti-Racism Collective in Cambridge.
- Be an advocate...even when it is not convenient. Studies show that white folk tend to surround themselves primarily with other white folk. If this is true for you, consider proactively engaging in tough conversations about race with your family and friends.
- Offer support. Ask the people of color in your life how you can support them, and then follow through. You may offer emotional labor, help on specific tasks like cooking meals, or space for them to process on their own or in their own communities. Here are some additional ideas.
3. Take care of yourself
Violent and hateful acts can be triggering, especially for folks with identities targeted by this recent wave or a previous wave of hate. Your mental health is the most valuable resource that you have, and you are the most valuable resource the movement has. Put on your own oxygen mask first.
Actions to consider taking:
- Access therapy. Use this free therapy referral tool to find a therapist in Massachusetts by your specific needs and identity, or listen to mental health podcasts by therapists of color.
- Surround yourself with life-giving people, communities, and music. We hope that YNPN Boston can be one of those spaces for you.
- Be diligent about scheduling self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, and eating nutritious meals. Consider signing up for a meal kit delivery service if meal prep seems too difficult this week.
We know it can be overwhelming, scary, and angering to confront deeply entrenched social issues, but we are inspired by the incredible work that young nonprofit professionals in Boston do every day to make an impact on systemic issues, and to serve our clients. Just as we must work in community to solve the issues we work on at our nonprofits, we must work together to resist hate, and to actively set an anti-racist agenda.
Please share additional resources you have for making tangible progress (orgs to support, articles to read, ways to take care of yourself and others) by leaving a comment on this post. We thank those of you who are already working every day to make the world a better place, and we commit to supporting you in that work.
Alyson Weiss and Lindsay Brown, Co-Chairs of YNPN Boston
YNPN Boston Leadership Team