GUEST POST: thoughts on parading in the streets while denouncing the actions of the government

by T.J. Webb

 

event-featured-Tara-Laase-McKinney-1504621335If you are like me, you may be really wrestling with whether or not today should see you donning an American Flag t-shirt, throwing the kids in the sidecar, waving tiny American Flags, and driving down to participate in the local parade like you do every year (or whatever your annual 4th of July tradition is). It’s hard to know how overtly patriotic to be when the nation is in the midst of such moral crises. Are we permitted to parade in the streets while privately and publicly denouncing so many of the actions of our government and the words and standpoints of our elected officials?

I don’t know the answer. I don’t think I would judge anyone for celebrating, and I don’t think I would judge anyone for giving the 4th of July a miss this year. I keep being reminded that tomorrow is, first and foremost, a Patriotic holiday. That means it is a celebration for anyone who loves our country, who is thankful for America and what it stands for, for the ideals upon which we are founded. It is not a Jingoist holiday; that is, it is not for those who would celebrate our right, by virtue only of our nation of birth, to dominate or oppress others. It is not a Nationalist holiday; that is, it is not for those who would celebrate the supremacy of America and Americans over all other lands and people, for the creed of America is inherently inconsistent with Nationalism.

We Hold These Truths
So, tomorrow I will be celebrating this wonderful nation along with my family and friends, because we love and are very thankful for our country. We will wave flags, we will wear our shirts, we will eat Freedom Fries and Hamburgers (Ameriburgers?). We will celebrate that ‘America is the only nation founded on a creed’, and that creed revolves around the equality of all men and their right to justice. We will remember that we are a nation of immigrants.

history-550x286But if someone’s pride in America is of the sort that sees our primary duty in the world as promoting our own interests regardless of the suffering of others, or of seeing our own people- or a subset of our own people- as more inherently deserving of dignity and compassion, or if the phrase “they aren’t Americans” seems like a valid justification for acts of cruelty or inhumane usage… Might I recommend that they stay home and watch TV instead? Because the 4th of July is the celebration of the fact that “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” If that isn’t an idea that your conceptualization of American can get behind, then this probably just isn’t the holiday for you.

And yes, I realize that would mean it would be a quiet 4th of July at the White House.

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Resource List: Understanding the Border Crisis and How to Help

by Michelle Palmer

UPDATE: After this was originally posted, President Trump signed an executive order reversing the family separation policy. However, thousands of children are still separated from their parents, and the crackdown on immigrants remains problematic. Help is still needed, and there are ways for us to get involved. For more, see Trump’s Executive Order On Family Separation: What It Does And Doesn’t Do from NPR.


It takes a grave issue to warrant the first ever edition of “Wednesday Justice,” and this one is. To not have heard about what’s going on at the US-Mexico border over the last several weeks, you’d have to be living pretty far off the grid. But even if you have heard about it, you may not understand quite what’s happening or why. Full disclosure: we don’t have a great grasp of it either. It’s complex and confusing and heartbreaking. Channon and I have been tied up the last couple of weeks with personal projects, which means we’ve not been able to dedicate sufficient time and energy to understanding this issue as well as either of us would like. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do! We’ve gathered links that will help us understand the issue better, as well as ways to help.

What’s going on?

Updates on Executive Order from June 20:

What can we do? 

– CALL YOUR SENATORS!!! It’s super easy. Call the capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and read the script.

Script 1:

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Script 2:

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– Check out this regularly updated Google Doc from Feed Our Democracy: Action Plan for Helping Immigrant Families Torn Apart at Border

Join a protest on June 30. (Louisiana folks, here’s the link for the protest in New Orleans.) UPDATE: This is STILL ON, post-executive order.

Donate! These organizations are funding operations ON THE GROUND:

And lastly, I want to leave you with some of the best commentary I’ve read on the matter, from one of our very own guest post authors, Vershal Hogan:

Forget “be the change you want to see.” Be the change that you CAN be.

When something awful is happening a long way off, there’s only so much you can do — and you should do all of those things. Agitate the proper authorities. Give money to relief agencies. Keep talking about it on social media (and in real life!). Put the squeeze on wherever you can.

But then take to heart the message about rising tides lifting all boats. Find something in your local community you can do to improve things there. The fastest way to change hearts and minds is to meet needs.You may not be able to give out blankets at the border, but — after you call your Senator, of course — you can give out blankets at your local shelter. You may not be able to walk with the labor organizers marching on the Capitol, but — after you call the governor — you can give someone the $50 they need to get their car fixed so they can go to work. You may not be able to house every homeless veteran, but — after you call your representative — you can give someone a ride to the VA.

(And honestly, if you’re saying “what about ‘x'” in response to someone else’s concern, then you need to be sure you’re actually working to address ‘x.’)

Maybe none of those things are an option. Maybe you are tethered down with work and family and legal obligations. Maybe your good is even smaller. But do it. “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone.”

Until that season comes when you reap, do what you can when you can — be it online, in the streets or under your roof.

 


For more information…

 

5th Tuesday Guest Post // Food Insecurity: The Hunger Next Door

“I cannot feed the world. But I can do my best to make sure fewer people have to stare down the last can in their pantry.”

Huge thanks to Vershal Hogan for offering to write a second guest post for us! You can see his first Tuesday Justice post here: The Day I Became a White Man Was the Day I Became a Black Man: A Story About Race.

by Vershal Hogan

I will never forget that can of stewed tomatoes and okra.

The pantry in our dingy-walled apartment, where the rent was late but we were still within the grace period, was empty. Margaret-Holmes-Tomatoes-and-Okra-14.5-OZ

Except for that can. 

It had come, I think, from a box of government commodities my grandmother had received. I am not sure how it ended up in our pantry, but it sat there, waiting for someone to figure out what to do with it. It was not appealing.

For the past couple of days, my wife and I had been slowly scaling back how much we ate to make sure our children didn’t go hungry and that the groceries would last. That evening, the family had eaten the last of everything, and I had quietly skipped the meal. Payday was the next day.

Everyone else was in bed, and I was alone in the pantry, staring at that can, the last food in the apartment. Hunger finally said, “Enough.”

I took it off the shelf and walked over to the counter where I slowly opened it, and — crossing the room to sit at the table — ate one of the worst meals of my life directly from the can.

How I had gotten there was a mix of personal mistakes and bad timing. I’d left my former job to return to school, but the national recession that almost immediately followed that decision had made finding work difficult; I had three over-the-table jobs (my wife also had an under-the-table childcare arrangement) and still didn’t work enough combined hours to be considered full-time. Rent claimed most of that (minimum wage) money, fuel prices were high and we lived without frills. Because work was slower than anyone anticipated when we made our plans, we were forced to eat the savings we had.

We were able to buy groceries the day after I ate the tomatoes and okra. We came close to repeating that story a few times — our pastor even pulled us aside in a couple of instances and said we could avail ourselves of the church’s food pantry if we needed to — but we never got quite that desperate again.

That experience changed how I saw food security, and it has remained with me in better times.

What is food security?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food security and insecurity in four categories:

Food Security

  • High food security (old label=Food security): no reported indications of food-access problems or limitations.
  • Marginal food security (old label=Food security): one or two reported indications—typically of anxiety over food sufficiency or shortage of food in the house. Little or no indication of changes in diets or food intake.

Food Insecurity

  • Low food security (old label=Food insecurity without hunger): reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake.
  • Very low food security (old label=Food insecurity with hunger): Reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.

Reports at the USDA’s Economic Research Institute show that in 2016 12.3 percent of households in the U.S. — nearly 15.6 million people — were considered food insecure at some point that year, and 7.4 percent of households — 9.4 million people — were considered to have low food security. The ERI reported that, like in my own story, parents and caregivers worked to shield children from reductions in food intake, but 298,000 households still saw children face disruption in how often they were able to eat. 

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So why is this a justice issue?

It seems obvious on its face, but many people don’t realize how critical food — especially healthful food — is to a functioning society. People who are hungry are very often people who are not healthy, and people who are hungry and unhealthy are not going to be able to function as well in their jobs or in their schools.

Food insecurity likewise tends to affect groups that are already in danger of disenfranchisement, which means — because they are less likely to perform well or be healthy — they will continue to be marginalized.

The rate of food insecurity for all groups is 12.3 percent, but as the USDA statistics note, some groups tend to face it at higher rates than others:

  • All households with children (16.5 percent),
  • Households with children under age 6 (16.6 percent),
  • Households with children headed by a single woman (31.6 percent),
  • Households with children headed by a single man (21.7 percent),
  • Women living alone (13.9 percent),
  • Men living alone (14.3 percent),
  • Black, non-Hispanic households (22.5 percent),
  • Hispanic households (18.5 percent), and
  • Low-income households with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty threshold (31.6 percent; the Federal poverty line was $24,339 for a family of four in 2016).

Issues of food security are especially high among those with disabilities, with 33 percent of households with a person with a reported disability keeping them from the workforce reporting food insecurity.

But even for those who fall outside the groups typically identified as marginalized, food insecurity mostly likely means whole-life insecurity. Studies have associated food insecurity with diminished mental health status.

So what can I do?

First, be aware that many people are hiding their own food insecurity. I volunteer at a local food bank every week, and one of the things that strikes me is how very normal most of the people look. Many come through after finishing a shift at work, or in their work uniforms. In some cases, people who qualify for the assistance have someone else picking it up for them, often because they are unable to do so themselves. 

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Second, recognize that it is likely not a choice. While an adult with food security issues may look typical, they may in fact have a hidden disease such as a mental illness or neurological condition that may have good and bad days that makes consistent or full-time work difficult. They may be a caregiver for someone with a disability, or they may be stuck in a cycle of unemployment or trying to exit an addiction. They could be a child or young person without the capacity to fully provide for themselves.

Third, donate. Give money or food to a local food pantry or a backpack program, which — in cooperation with local schools — distributes backpacks of food to students in need before they leave each weekend.

When you donate, don’t send expired food or food you wouldn’t eat yourself. While some food banks have some wiggle room on expiration dates, it’s not much and they will have to throw them away. Besides, what are you really saying if you’re giving a food insecure person a can that expired in 2014 and telling them, “I wouldn’t eat this, but you can.”

You should also likewise consider giving a little variety of food. Food drives tend to bring in lots and lots of cans of corn and green beans. Those are needed, but man does not live on grain and legumes alone.

While many food banks need most of their food to be shelf stable, some — including the one where I volunteer — have freezers and can put up meat and dairy. Check to see if they can accept those items. Families appreciate being able to receive items such as cheese or butter.

Desserts are also a nice donation. Some people might want to gripe about poor people eating sweets (thinking that being poor is a moral failing that deserves to be punished), but if they’re coming through our pantry, they’re receiving other foods. When life is hard, sometimes a piece of cake may serve its own purpose. food-pantry-northjerseyDOTcom

And one final thing on donations — consider cash. I mentioned it above, but it bears repeating. Food donations help stock shelves, but during some seasons (i.e. when it’s not Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter) they tend to slow down. Having cash on hand helps the pantry not only keep the lights on but restock when needed.

Fourth, donate time. I know not everyone can do this, but food security organizations — whether they are independent or linked to a faith community — overwhelmingly rely on volunteer labor. It’s not glamorous, but someone needs to move boxes and stock shelves.

Fifth, vote for people who are going to support food security policies. Many pantries are able to operate in part because they participate in USDA commodity programs or other local, state and federal initiatives. Discussions in recent years have hinted that funding for those services may be reduced or ended altogether.

I cannot feed the world. But I can do my best to make sure fewer people have to stare down the last can in their pantry.

 

The Socially Conscious Artistry of Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”

by Channon Oyeniran

Video-Of-The-Day-By-Childish-Gambino-This-Is-America-Featured-On-Diabolical-Rabbit.jpgNot your ordinary feel good, music pumping, fun and colourful music video, Childish Gambino released “This is America” to the world on May 6th, and it has been a hot topic on all social media platforms since. Both the video and the song itself provide powerful social commentary, highlighting a variety of issues that are as relevant today as they were centuries ago for the black diaspora, not only in America but around the world. After seeing some buzz about the video on Facebook, I decided to watch it. I was struck by all that was going on in the video, the flashy dance moves, the beat of the song, all while trying to pick up what was going on in the background while Gambino was dancing, striking poses and showing off an impressive array of facial expressions. After my first viewing, I saw a few more articles on Facebook about the deeper meaning of the video. I was blown away that I had missed so much! I went back and watched the video at least four times and picked up on so many different symbols in the video. I would like to share three of the motifs within the video that you can easily miss if you let the catchy beat and entertaining dance moves distract you.

Guns vs. the worth of a black body:

There’s a pretty staggering image at the start of the video that struck me the first time through. (If you’ve seen it, you probably know exactly the one I mean.) It’s when Gambino pulls out a gun and shoots a black man in the back of the head. In doing so, he strikes a pose that is reminiscent of the Jim Crow character. After he shoots the man, Gambino carefully places the gun on a red cloth, while the black man’s dead body is dragged away. 980x(This motif is repeated when he places another gun neatly away a second time after he shoots church parishioners, a clear reference to the 2015 Charleston shooting of nine churchgoers.) It struck me how carefully Gambino places the gun back, almost as if he was being careful and giving reverence to the gun; meanwhile, the body of the black man was given no respect at all, not even a thought or look as he is dragged away out of the scene. This is an obvious nod to what is going on in America (and frankly around the world now) concerning gun violence. Guns have more rights, are more protected and are taken more seriously than the lives of black people.

The cell phone as a powerful (yet ineffective) tool for justice: 

“This a celly…That’s a tool…”

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In one scene, you see the camera pan up and focus on about four people with cell phones in their hands, taking video of the chaos taking place below. At this point, Gambino raps, “This a celly…That’s a tool…”. This lyrical line signals the power that a cell phone has to capture the injustice that happens daily against black people in America. The cell phone has been used to capture concrete proof of injustices against black people time and time again (e.g. Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Walter Scott, Demetrius Hollins, Rolesville High student, Jacqueline Craig, Keith Scott,  teenager at a pool party, Charlie Kinsey, etc.). However, it still proves to be ineffective in actually bringing justice and righting the wrongs of injustice committed against black people.

Some have speculated that the cell phone can also appear to be a weapon in the eyes of some, just like the case with Stephon Clark, who was murdered on March 18th, 2018 because the cell phone he was holding was “mistaken” for a gun. So although a powerful tool to capture injustice, holding a cellphone while black can also prove deadly. Whether this was intentional or not is unknown, particularly because of the short period of time between Stephon Clark’s death and the release of the video.

Black culture used as entertainment, while black lives are disposable:

Something else that struck me when watching this video, especially for the first time, was how much I got caught up in watching the dancing and enjoying the beat of the song. My eyes did not automatically go to what was happening behind Gambino and the dancers and the depth of what was occurring in each scene. 

Childish

I think for a lot of other people, including myself, who watched the video, we got sidetracked with the dancing and upbeat flow of Childish Gambino’s lyrics. I think that was part of the point. Black culture is so popular and influences every part of society; people from all cultures and backgrounds enjoy different aspects of it, music especially. However, when it comes to black lives, police brutality, racism and injustice against the black community are commonplace, and the world seems to turn a blind eye to these injustices that are literally killing us. 

Socially conscious art, like this music video, helps engage all who watch it, thus stimulating large-scale discussion on the subject matter covered in the video and raising awareness about things like racism, police brutality, suicide, gun violence, etc.  There are so many other meanings and symbols in this video that make it a masterpiece. The depth and thought that was put into this video is genius, and I really hope invokes thought and change for all who watch it. This video is important not only because it uses music to garner people’s attention, but also because it speaks on a very significant issue which continues to plague the black community but is often a tricky and sensitive topic – racially biased police brutality. I believe this video achieved what it set out to do, and that is to talk about a real problem facing America and how easy it is and has been for people to look the other way to the plight of the black person.

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For more information…

The Purpose of Protest

Protesting isn’t super convenient, and it’s not my favorite way to spend a Saturday, but it’s important and awesome and worth it.

by Michelle Palmer

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On Saturday, March 24th, I joined hundreds of others in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and hundreds of thousands across the country (and the world) in protesting gun violence. It was my first “real” protest march (and Lord willing, not my last). As I drove down, feeling a little anxious, I thought a lot about whether or not it’d be worth all the effort. “Why am I doing this? Will it matter that I’m there? I hope the letters don’t fall off my signs. Where am I going to park?”

Now, I would loooooove to have the time and energy to dig really deeply into the gun control debate and lay out a clear summary of the arguments. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. In the time that I actually have, I wouldn’t be able to do justice to the complexities of the issue. Instead, I’m just going to tell you why protesting is a good idea based on the experience I had at March for Our Lives and give you some resources if you want to learn more about the gun control debate. Channon has already discussed The Power of Peaceful Protest, but here, I want to share my first-hand experience and give you some ideas about why protesting is a pretty darn good idea.

  1. It pushes the conversation forward. In the wake of many school shootings, the script is the same. It’s a tragedy, we lament, people call for stronger gun control, others tell them it’s not the right time to politicize the tragedy, and nothing changes. In the wake of Parkland, there has been a momentum shift – more people talking about the issues, more people joining organizations like Everytown and Students Demand Action. Protests make a splash, they make headlines, and they get people talking.IMG_1455
  2. It’s a visible statement to politicians. Calling your politicians is great, showing up at the voting booth is ESSENTIAL, but I think showing up, in public, makes an impactful statement that the constituents have a passionate and vested interest in change. (Also, at our event, there were at least a dozen volunteers getting people registered to vote.)
  3. It gives people a platform to speak. In Baton Rouge, we had speakers (students, parents, politicians) who were able to share their hearts for change and their plans for action. The speeches given at the DC march were heard by thousands on the day and millions more after the fact. Here are a couple of the most moving: Emma Gonzalez, Naomi Wadler, D’Angelo McDade.
  4. It’s a visible statement to the public. When I told people I was going to march in Baton Rouge, a lot of folks gave me the “are you sure you wanna do that?” look. Like, “It’s Louisiana….how many people do you think will be there? Is it gonna be just you or what?” But there were nearly 1000! I think it was even bigger than the organizers anticipated. It shows the skeptics that there are people who care. And for every protester, there are others who want change but aren’t able to march. IMG_1479
  5. It’s good for the protesters. How? 

So no, protesting isn’t super convenient, and it’s not my favorite way to spend a Saturday, but it’s important and awesome and worth it.

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And if you go to a protest, here are my (super practical, mostly obvious) tips:

  • Wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen.
  • Bring water, sunglasses, and a poncho. (In other words, be prepared to handle whatever Mother Nature throws at you.)
  • If you have trouble standing for long periods of time, bring one of those nifty portable stools. (I seriously could’ve used one.) 
  • If you can’t make a sign, go anyway. There will be extras. And even if there aren’t, your presence without a sign is a billion times better than nothing! 
  • Speaking of signs, white poster boards aren’t the same color on both sides. You think they are, but they’re not. IMG_1457Finally, I wrote very briefly about gun control last year. You can read the full post here, but the gun control bit is re-posted below:

The issue of gun control has come up (again) in light of the Las Vegas tragedy, as it so often does.

[SIDENOTE: If this seems like a particularly controversial issue for us to be tackling without much context, consider this: The majority of Americans are in favor of sensible gun control measures (reports here and here). And according to the CDC, there are an average of 33,880 gun deaths per year from 2011-2015, and those numbers are on the rise for 2016 and 2017.]

When I looked for organizations working for gun control, I found several lists, but there were four organizations that appeared on every list I saw. (This article from Bustle is particularly helpful.) These organizations are linked below, and each website has an action section.

I also came across an article that I found particularly interesting, “What If We Made Gun Culture Uncool Like We Did Cigarettes?” Here’s an excerpt:

“On the legislative front it seems America has made its choice and there is little chance for legal reform in the near future except at the margins deemed acceptable by the gun industry and a current generation of gun owners who believe that ‘things happen’ is an appropriate reaction to gun deaths. When lawmakers can’t lead, a social solution is certainly worth a shot.”

 


For more information…

“I’m rooting for everybody black.” The importance of supporting black-owned businesses

So this holiday season, don’t neglect black-owned business. Use your buying power to strengthen communities, create jobs and grow the economy.

by Channon Oyeniran

With Black Friday 2017 coming and going, it hit home for me (more than ever before) how important it is to support black-owned businesses. No, it’s not me discriminating against other people and their businesses or cultures; it’s just about me recognizing that if I do my small part in supporting black businesses, then I in turn help to strengthen the black community and advance us forward in a system that is meant to keep us down. 
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It’s what Issa Rae meant when she said at the Emmys, “I’m rooting for everybody black.” Taryn Finley explains,Black pride isn’t designed to block the progress of others. It is meant to empower and create space for black people to celebrate and honor ourselves in a country that tells us in no uncertain terms that black lives do not matter. It’s a necessary escape when racial tension in the world is too much to bear. It’s a tool for survival in a world that doesn’t want to see you win.”

Not only are there great black-owned business out there, but the quality of the products are top notch, thus dismantling a long time myth and stigma that black-made products are of low quality and are not as “good” as products made from another race. Blogger Lisa-Marie said this, “We don’t like ourselves, so we don’t trust ourselves enough to support one another.” Reshaping this type of thinking is not only important amongst those in the black community, but for all people of different races.

e9af272134d19dca3499a26366bb1c86-pretty-hairstyles-natural-hairstylesI made the decision nearly three years ago to sisterlock my hair, as I have mentioned in a post before. I did this because I love how sisterlocks look, I love that it’s my natural hair and I don’t have to worry about braids, extensions, etc. But most importantly, I decided to do sisterlocks so I could stop contributing to the billion-dollar business that other cultures make on black women’s hair/products on an annual basis. I decided that I would only support black businesses here in the Greater Toronto area that have natural products that are good for natural hair and sisterlocks. Not only am I supporting black-owned businesses here in my local community, but I am doing the three things that I will briefly discuss below, that show the benefits of supporting black-owned businesses.

Strengthening communities:

gettyimages-459685184According to The State of Working America, “Black people spend four percent more money annually than any other race despite the fact that they are the least represented race and the race that lives in poverty at the highest rate.” This is a problem in the black community. It is a fact that black people spend more on the latest electronics, shoes, clothes, etc. and feed into the capitalist society that runs our world. Since black people are spending more than other races, it would be beneficial if it more of that money were spent within the black community at black-owned businesses, thus generating more wealth within the community and a sense of comradery in helping to build up our brothers and sisters. Once we realize that it is a good thing to support one another, rather than feeling threatened or have mistrust, the black community becomes stronger, more powerful and united.

Job creation:

An important point when it comes to supporting black-owned businesses is that it opens up much-needed jobs for those in the black community as well as creates entrepreneurial opportunities. To add some numbers/stats to this, in May 2014, the unemployment rate in the US was 7.8%, while the unemployment rate for black people in the US was double the national average at 13.79%. Another stat shows that in 2013, 12.4% percent of black college graduates in the US between the ages of 22 and 27 were unemployed (Source). article-imageThis demonstrates that black people need jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities within our own communities because often times racism and discrimination comes into play and black people don’t get hired for the job because of their skin colour or the name on their resume. If black-owned businesses are supported and encouraged, then the unemployment rate for black people would not be so high. This article by Black to Business said it best: “The problem is that there aren’t enough black-owned businesses to hire unemployed black people. […] Time is overdue for change, and we must pool our resources and build our own reality.”

The Economy:

“Who you give your money to, is who you give your power to.” – Frederick Douglass

Supporting black-owned businesses, as it is very clear now, supports the economy within the black community. As mentioned above, many black people spend a lot of money on products and business that are not black-owned, thus making the people who own these businesses richer every day. It has always been evident to me that, historically, other communities (Jewish, Asian, Italian, etc.) have operated and supported businesses, thus operating independently, becoming successful and wealthy, because they have the support of those in their communities. 1107_small-business_650x455However, this is not the case for black people, as we have over time been conditioned and taught to hate each other, not support one another and be competitive with one another. I believe once we have changed our mindsets, we as black people can realize that supporting one another doesn’t just benefit that person who has the business, but it benefits that his family, his neighbour’s family, my family, etc. The most successful industries for black business tend to be in the areas of sports, arts, and music, but it is time that we branch off into other industries such as technology and engineering. Once we support black-owned businesses, we strengthen our community and in turn strengthen both the Canadian and American economies globally.

So this holiday season, don’t neglect black-owned business. Use your buying power to strengthen communities, create jobs and grow the economy.

A few black-owned businesses to check out this holiday season…

Or check out these lists…

For more information:

Find the Helpers: From Outrage to Action

 by Michelle Palmer

“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” 

Some weeks it’s really easy to know what to write about. There’s one thing dominating the headlines that deserves some thoughtful unpacking. Other weeks, increasingly it seems, there are so many it’s hard to even think about them all without losing hope.

So, today, I just want to remind us, like I did in the post on Syria, of what Mr. Rogers said:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

In the midst of so much tragedy, so many events that outrage and infuriate us, I want us to look for the helpers. My purpose in this is twofold.

  • First, I want to give us some hope. (There are helpers. There are people doing something to make things better.)
  • Second, I want our outrage to lead us to action. (We can be helpers too.)

Gun Control:

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The issue of gun control has come up (again) in light of the Las Vegas tragedy, as it so often does.

[SIDENOTE: If this seems like a particularly controversial issue for us to be tackling without much context, consider this: The majority of Americans are in favor of sensible gun control measures (reports here and here). And according to the CDC, there are an average of 33,880 gun deaths per year from 2011-2015, and those numbers are on the rise for 2016 and 2017.]

When I looked for organizations working for gun control, I found several lists, but there were four organizations that appeared on every list I saw. (This article from Bustle is particularly helpful.) These organizations are linked below, and each website has an action section.

I also came across an article that I found particularly interesting, “What If We Made Gun Culture Uncool Like We Did Cigarettes?” Here’s an excerpt:

“On the legislative front it seems America has made its choice and there is little chance for legal reform in the near future except at the margins deemed acceptable by the gun industry and a current generation of gun owners who believe that ‘things happen’ is an appropriate reaction to gun deaths. When lawmakers can’t lead, a social solution is certainly worth a shot.”

Puerto Rico:

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Full disclosure: My love for Lin-Manuel Miranda knows no bounds. However, I can honestly say his Twitter account is an amazing resource for finding ways to help Puerto Rico. His feed is chock-full of ways to help, donation drop-off locations, and links for donating money. Click here: https://twitter.com/lin_manuel

Lin’s twitter feed can get a little overwhelming, so here’s a more concise list from NBC:  How To Help Puerto Rico Right Now

Also, go listen to “Almost Like Praying” on your iTunes or Spotify or Amazon or wherever you listen to your music. It’s catchy, it’s beautiful, it has Gloria Estefan, and all the proceeds go to hispanicfederation.org.

And if you need a smile on your face, check out THIS VIDEO of Stephen Colbert’s #PuberMe challenge to see how much he and Nick Kroll raised for Puerto Rico.

NFL Protests:

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Despite all the arguments regarding secondary issues (respecting the flag, the right to protest), the purpose of the protests from the start has been to bring attention to “systemic oppression against people of color, police brutality and the criminal justice system.” (Source.) If you’re still unsure about the protests, this is the best thing I’ve read on the issue, “What You Might Be Missing in the Kneeling Debate” by Ed Uszynski. And if you’re unsure about the issues being protested, we have lots of information on our Resource List page, and Channon and I would be more than happy to answer your questions.

The organizations below tackle the very issues that led to the protests, and again, each one has ways to support and get involved.

 


There is so much heartbreak in our world, so much to be outraged about today. If the thing pulling at your heartstrings right now hasn’t been addressed here, and you have little hope or don’t know how to help, let us know, and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. You can email us at tuesdayjusticeblog@gmail.com or message us on Facebook.

Whatever you do, don’t give up hope. Let your outrage move you to action.