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How To Educate Ourselves On Black Lives Matter

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A blond lady wearing a black hat and a long sleeved white shirt with black writing holding a big, "BLACK LIVES MATTER", sign, while standing outside at a rally.
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The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has been at the forefront of the news and our minds. Due to this, people have begun educating themselves on race more than ever. People of all different age groups and demographics are truly understanding how important it is to learn about racism and how to combat it.

This article will address the experiences of Elizabeth Rees, Lizzie Van Buskirk, and Natalie Rose. All three have acknowledged how important it is to educate themselves on Black Lives Matter. Hopefully, you can feel inspired towards learning about this important issue too. 

Elizabeth Rees, a 47-year-old white woman, knew quite a bit about racial inequality before the BLM movement. She went to a diverse high school and always had a circle of friends that included people of color. Her beliefs and heart were in the “right place.” However, she realized that a lot more needed to be done after hearing about the recent BLM crisis. 

Research businesses that support BLM.

In order to educate herself, Rees has been researching businesses. She wants to support people of color and women-owned businesses. In order to do this, she tries to understand who the business owners are and their missions.

Rees also uses her workplace to an advantage, since it matches contributions. Consequently, Rees looks for organizations important to her (the NAACP legal defense fund) and sets up recurring donations. Any of us can support businesses and donate to organizations if we research them.

Represent your generation as support.

On another note, Elizabeth Rees believes there is a generational element to racism. As a 47-year-old, she believes that younger people are more open about other cultures than members of older generations are. Rees says, “If you grew up thinking something, it’s hard to reverse that.”

She is hopeful that the future generation can create a sustainable change if all people continue to support BLM. When looking at past events, she found there to be little to no success when only people of color supported one another without the help of outside supporters. The time has come for all of us, including every ethnic group, to fight for these people.

Have an open mind.

Rees’ advice for people beginning to educate themselves is to be open. She wants others to realize how we stay in our own little world at times. She says, “There’s something much bigger than us out there. The whole of society is very important and we have to see outside of our circle of friends.” Rees urges everyone to look at the world beyond themselves and learn from it. 

At this time, Rees is also conscious of other people’s feelings. She says, “If people are feeling something, whether you can totally understand it or not, it’s still valid.” When Rees doesn’t understand something, she tries to acknowledge how others feel. We should all try to be more empathetic when it comes to Black Lives Matter.

A  brunette young lady with long curly hair wearing a black tank top stands in front of the camera.
Source: Lizzie Van Buskirk

Use social media to educate yourself and others.

Lizzie Van Buskirk, a 21-year-old white woman, was aware of the BLM movement from the Ferguson Protests in 2014. However, this summer’s movement following George Floyd’s death shocked her. “Everywhere I looked everyone was talking about it,” Van Buskirk said. On social media, she saw the protests and backlash from George Floyd’s death.

Van Buskirk’s main source of education has been social media. She uses the app TikTok, where many people have been teaching others about the Black Lives Matter movement. There she has learned about the Tulsa Massacre and Juneteenth.

In addition to this, she is trying to consume more black-created media. “[I am] trying to stay more aware and work that into what [I normally do],” said Van Buskirk. We can all try to work more Black Lives Matter material into our daily lives too. It’s easy to look for this content on social media with hashtags or find helpful books and movies online.

Van Buskirk feels a considerable generational gap when it comes to racism. With the internet, it’s easier to connect to people and learn about others’ experiences. She said, “I definitely wouldn’t be as aware and empathetic toward people that aren’t like me if it weren’t for the internet.”

Because we have the power to voice our beliefs on the internet, we should use it to our advantage. We can aid in the spread of information and progress in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Try to learn something new every day.

Van Buskirk has learned about the prison system in her research. Before the BLM movement, she knew it was a racist organization, but she didn’t know about its origins. The prison system didn’t organize until after slavery ended.

People continued to take advantage of black people in a societal approved system within prisons. This information shocked her the most, but she still knows that it is important to keep learning these new concepts everyday.

Explore the unknown.

Lizzie Van Buskirk’s advice for those beginning to educate themselves is to listen. She suggests using the internet as a resource and looking unknown things up. Van Buskirk finds it useful to find the “black lives matter” tag on Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr. “Just being there is enough to start opening your mind and start learning about things that you didn’t expect,” Van Buskirk said.

Natalie Rose, a white woman in her late 20’s, is ashamed that she overlooked the extent of racism in the United States before the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement. She says, “I thought it was enough to not be racist and treat everyone with kindness and respect. It is not enough.”

Prior to the BLM movement, she also thought that the government would handle these important issues the right way, but now she has realized that it’s the citizens’ responsibility. 

A brunnette young lady with long hair wearing a black tank top with white spots stands in a building with lots of lights.
Source: Natalie Rose

Listen to Podcasts and read about it.

One way Natalie Rose has educated herself is through listening to podcasts (NPR Code Switch). She has also followed BLM influencers on social media and reads articles about allyship. Another of her resources is 13th, a documentary about racism in America. In terms of activism, Rose has signed petitions. We should all sign petitions and vote in order to bring about societal change. 

Throughout her self-education, two things stand out in what Rose has learned thus far. She has learned that the Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t mean that all lives don’t matter. It is a movement drawing attention to the disadvantages and unjust deaths of black people.

“White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard; it simply means the color of your skin is not one of the things making it harder,” Rose said.

Look for helpful resources. 

Rose recommends that people new to self-education should go onto Google to find many helpful resources. She also suggests following influencers on social media who are helping their followers learn about BLM.

Additionally, we can listen to podcasts while we walk or drive. “Take the time to learn and unlearn,” said Rose. Doing so means that we can begin to understand new things and let go of old misconceptions. 

Keep the ball rolling.

As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to grow and create change in society, it is important for all of us to help out and contribute. Just as it was for Rees, Van Buskirk, and Rose, let this be a wake up call. It’s time to commit to action, not just beliefs. We can all do something, whether that be through self-education, donation, signing petitions, and much more.

 

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