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Mary Mazzoni headshot

To Understand the Movement For Racial Justice, Listen to Black People

By Mary Mazzoni
Black Lives Matter Anti Racism Protests

(Image: Protesters take a knee during a demonstration against systemic racism and police brutality in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Saturday.) 

Over the past few days, I've struggled to understand how I can contribute to the dialogue around racial injustice and the fight for black lives. As writers, when we see stories we feel need to be told, we do our best to tell them. But what could I, a white woman, possibly say about these issues that hasn't already been said — better and from a place of deeper understanding — by black writers and creators? 

I don't really want to try and would much rather do what we can with our little platform to amplify the voices of those who work tirelessly, day in and day out, to educate people about systemic racism, oppression and solutions for change, even though it shouldn't have to be their job to do so. 

Read on for resources to help you understand what's happening, the pain and anger that's gripping black and brown people across the country and around the world, and the centuries-long history of systemic racism in America, of which the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are only the latest examples. All of these resources were created by black people, which is who we should all be listening to right now. 

U.S. Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism (Read it here)

Resource type: Article

Authors: Laura Morgan Roberts and Ella F. Washington

What it is: Here at TriplePundit, our primary focus is how business can be a force for good and drive positive change in the way we interact with our environment and with one another. But too often when it comes to pervasive issues such as systemic racism, business responses are little more than lip service. Laura Morgan Roberts and Ella F. Washington call for change in an article in the Harvard Business Review, unpacking missteps to avoid and suggesting a framework for business action that goes beyond public relations and has the potential to truly make a difference.  

Pull-out quote: "While conventional diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives focus on employee engagement and belonging, today’s challenges reach far beyond marginalization in the workplace. We now see and hear Black people who are suffering from the weight of dehumanizing injustice and the open wound of racism that has been festering for centuries."

Understanding the Pain Fueling Nationwide Demonstrations (Listen here)

Resource type: Podcast

Authoring organization: The Takeaway podcast, featuring Aaron L. Morrison and Marc Lamont Hill

What it is: Aaron L. Morrison, national race and ethnicity writer for the AP, and Marc Lamont Hill, professor of media studies at Temple University and host of BET News, join The Takeaway podcast. In only 45 minutes, they go miles to educate people about what's happening on the ground during nationwide demonstrations and the legacy of systemic racism and oppression in America.

Pull-out quote: "There's a sense that for the last few months in the midst of COVID, there was very little intervention, very little support. And the moment people express their frustration against state violence, there's all kinds of federal intervention — but not the kind they were looking for," Hill says. "The response immediately looks like there's no room for protest. There's no room to express legitimate outrage, that the state is more interested in protecting property and protecting white fear than it is in making sure that black lives are safe or that justice prevails." 

Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They’re Okay — Chances Are They’re Not (Read it here

Resource type: Article

Author: Danielle Cadet 

What it is: Danielle Cadet, managing editor for Refinery29, shares perspective on what it's like to continue to show up to work even as horrific, racist acts fill the news and a global pandemic continues to disproportionately impact black people

Pull-out quote: "The likelihood that your Black colleague lost a family member to COVID-19 is painfully high. The chances that your Black colleague was triggered by the viral video of Amy Cooper because a white woman used her race and privilege and weaponized it against him is incredibly likely. The possibility that your Black colleague is afraid to go for a run, or terrified when her husband leaves the house, or just simply enraged by the incessant lies this country keeps telling us about equal liberties is so high you’ll need a ladder to get it down."

Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge (Read it here)

Resource type: Article

Author: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

What it is: Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar raised his voice in an op/ed in the Los Angeles Times, laying out the pain, fear and anger that accompanies being black in America and calling on white onlookers to learn from protesters rather than judge them. 

Pull-out quote: "I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere."

Fortune's raceAhead (Subscribe here

Resource type: Newsletter

Author: Ellen McGirt

What it is: Brilliantly authored by Fortune senior editor Ellen McGirt, the raceAhead newsletter is a regular update on all things race, equity, and inclusion in the business world and beyond. In the most recent issue published Monday, McGirt unpacks the early corporate response to the protests and provides resources on allyship that any non-black person should read and bookmark. 

Pull-out quote: "What has become crystal clear in this moment is that if diversity work isn’t policy work, then it’s no work at all."

How to Be a Strong White Ally (View it here

Resource type: Resource page

Author: Maxwell Boise

What it is: As author and activist Angela Davis famously said, "In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist.” One of many resources referenced in McGirt's newsletter above (again, I recommend clicking here for the full list), this guide from creator Maxwell Boise offers insight into what that means in practice, including things to read and watch to open your mind, check your own biases, and bust your own ignorance. 

Pull-out quote: "I want to thank all of you who’ve taken advantage of these resources to begin the necessary process of critical introspection, meaningful communication, and intentional action," Boise wrote of the page, which has gone viral since he published it on Saturday, on Instagram

A gift to white people who insist they know what Martin Luther King, Jr. would have said (View it here

Resource type: Twitter thread

Author: Michael Harriot

What it is: "I’ll never stop being amazed by the number of white Americans confidently willing to tell you what Dr. King would think and feel about what black people do when it’s clear they’ve never read a single speech or book that King wrote," Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones (better known on Twitter as Ida Bae Wells) wrote on the platform on Friday

In this thread published Sunday, Michael Harriot, senior writer for The Root, shares what King actually said about white privilege, police brutality and white people who disagree with black methods of protest. 

Pull-out quote: "I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice." — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963

Justice Now: A BET News Special (Learn more here)

Resource type: Television series

Authoring organization: BET News

What it is: On Tuesday, BET announced a series of programming to address systemic racism, violence against black Americans and ways to move the country forward. The first segment, featuring black voices in activism, politics and entertainment, aired last night. BET will also host a virtual Town Hall later in the week and a Presidential Forum on Juneteenth (June 19), to which both U.S. President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden have been invited to address the concerns of black Americans. 

Pull-out quote: “We stand in steadfast solidarity with George Floyd’s family, the many victims of racist brutality, and those who are using their voices and platforms to challenge it. There are no easy solutions for these systemic issues of racism, injustice, and trauma. BET is leveraging every platform and resource at our disposal to support and inform our community and help identify strategies and viable solutions in this time of crisis," Scott Mills, president of BET, said in a press statement announcing the series. 

People Can Only Bear So Much Injustice Before Lashing Out (Read it here

Resource type: Article

Author: Elie Mystal

What it is: As people criticize tens of thousands of protesters for the actions of a small minority, it's worth remembering the courage and strength it takes to respond nonviolently in the face of murder and oppression, argues Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for The Nation. 

Pull-out quote: "I choose to praise those who protest nonviolently, instead of decrying those who do not. The restraint shown by black people all across this country is admirable. We are being terrorized. We are being traumatized. We are being hunted by cops who can kill us out in the open, and when we gather to complain, those cops use violent tactics to scare us and hurt us and disperse us. And still, almost all of us use our words instead of our fists."

Statements Made By Top Tech Companies on Racial Justice, BLM and George Floyd (View it here

Resource type: Google spreadsheet 

Creator: Sherrell Dorsey

What it is: Created by Sherrell Dorsey, journalist and founder of The Plug, a newsletter and Web platform focused on black innovation in tech (I highly recommend you subscribe or become a pro member), this resource holds tech companies accountable. In it, Dorsey lists more than 100 companies that have responded to Floyd's death and voiced support for racial justice, and she includes information about how they walk the walk — including the percentage of black employees and whether they publish diversity and inclusion reports. 

Pull-out quote: "It's a tad bit unreal that our spreadsheet has been viewed by almost 10k people!" Dorsey tweeted on Monday. "THANK YOU for making this work visible."

Speech by George Floyd's brother, Terrence Floyd, at the site of his death in Minneapolis (Watch it here)

Resource type: Video

Creator: Shared by Global News, words by Terrence Floyd

What it is: Last but certainly not least, this emotional speech from George Floyd's brother, Terrence, is required watching for anyone who thinks they know what these protests are or what they're about. He calls for peace in the demonstrations, while underscoring that the collective raising of black voices is the only way to create change. 

Pull-out quote: "Let's do this another way. Let's stop thinking that our voice don't matter and vote — not just vote for the president, but vote in the preliminaries, vote for everybody. Educate yourself — don't wait for somebody else to tell you who's who. Educate yourself and know who you're voting for." 

Image credit: Clay Banks/Unsplash

Mary Mazzoni headshot

Mary has reported on sustainability and social impact for over a decade and now serves as executive editor of TriplePundit. She is also the general manager of TriplePundit's Brand Studio, which has worked with dozens of organizations on sustainability storytelling, and VP of content for TriplePundit's parent company 3BL. 

Read more stories by Mary Mazzoni