White People: Here’s what you need to know about Black Lives Matter

White People: Here’s what you need to know about Black Lives Matter

I want to preface this by saying my intention in putting together this post is to be a resource for white people who want to learn, help, and educate themselves on how to be a better ally to the black community but do not have any idea where to start. It is not my intention to take away any platform from people of color about this movement. My goal with this post is to be a launchpad for new allies. I want to redirect people who want to get involved and be allies to the black creators, writers, influencers, and leaders of this movement. This is not my story to tell. I will never know their pain, but I want to do what I can to encourage people to get involved and start listening. There is a lot to read here and a lot to unpack, but I promise you, it is all incredibly important so buckle up and take a seat. Let’s talk about racism in America.

What is happening?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has had a resurgence due to the recent killings of young, unarmed, black civilians including: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the most recent, George Floyd. Please read up on Ahmaud and Breonna’s murders. I linked articles about their murders because you need to know their stories to fully understand and sympathize with the grief felt by the black community. In this post, I am specifically talking about the murder of George Floyd and how his death sparked protests around the country that are still happening over a week later, and why you should get involved in the BLM movement.

The growing agony and disbelief felt by the black community and their allies rose to a boiling point after the video surfaced of George Floyd being detained by a police officer after being accused of paying with a counterfeit bill on May 25, 2020. George Floyd was unarmed. George Floyd did not resist arrest. George Floyd did not pay with a counterfeit bill. None of those things mattered. Officer Derek Chauvin pinned him to the ground regardless with his knee on George Floyd’s neck. This tactic was not ethical and not part of the Minneapolis police department’s official training. Derek Chauvin kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes. Even as Floyd begged him to lay up, even as he told Chauvin he was unable to breathe, and even after he became unconscious. Derek Chauvin’s knee remained on George Floyd’s neck for almost 3 minutes after he was believed to be dead while 3 other officers stood by and watched. George Floyd’s limp body was then haphazardly placed onto a stretcher and whisked away from the scene.

George Floyd died at the hands of a police officer who used an inhumane and uncertified method to restrain him, after arresting him for a crime he had not been proven guilty of. In fact, he was innocent, however it would seem “innocent until proven guilty” is only applicable when the one being accused is not a person of color.

Three videos piece together the final moments of George Floyd’s life

Almost the entirety of the situation was caught on camera. Floyd’s arrest, the almost 7 minutes of Floyd begging for his life, Floyd’s body going limp, bystanders asking if Floyd is dead, and when Floyd’s body was carelessly moved to a stretcher. All of that recorded on film. All the evidence in the world to convict Derek Chauvin of first degree murder and the other 3 officers as accomplices to murder, but justice was never served.

Chauvin and the other three officers were fired by the Minneapolis police department, but none of them were charged with anything. They were unemployed, but they were still walking as free men after murdering an innocent man and the whole world knew it.

This is when the protests began.

They were planned to be peaceful. Those who were there in support and solidarity were peaceful. However, there were people who were angry. You must consider how a peaceful protest can turn violent. There is a long history of instigators showing up to events like this to turn them violent in order to get away with illegal activities. Another thing to consider is the Theory of Broken Windows. The idea is that if there are clear signs of disorder, more disorder will occur. NPR has an excellent article about the history of this theory in regard to policing, I have linked it below.

How A Theory Of Crime And Policing Was Born, And Went Terribly Wrong

Throughout history, especially in regard to protests regarding equality of any variety, the police have used this theory to their advantage by breaking windows in order to create large massive riots that make the protestors look horrific and monstrous in order to discredit their cause. This is what was believed to have happened in Minneapolis, but it was also caught on film. This only fueled the fires of a war beginning between Minneapolis and their police, and ultimately the United States and their police.

Why are people protesting?

Although Derek Chauvin was finally arrested on May 29, 2020, four days after Floyd’s murder, he was only charged with third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. They want Chauvin to be charged with first degree murder and for the other three officers present to be charged as accomplices to murder. Chauvin’s third degree murder charge allows him to be freed on bail. This is not justice.

No justice, no peace.

This case is eerily similar to Ahmaud Arbery’s murder. His murderers were not charged until 2 months after the murder took place. It was not until protests, petitions, and social media campaigns began and local police and government’s inaction had been revealed that they were finally charged with murder. Ahmaud’s family did not get to celebrate his 25th birthday with him alive, but they did get to celebrate justice for his murder, even though it was long overdue. The protests happening nationwide after George Floyd’s murder will not stop until all the officers involved are given proper sentences and the Minneapolis police department is investigated.

Video by @kareemrahma on Tik Tok.

Why does is matter what degree of murder?

As I previously stated, Chauvin is able to get out on bail with his current sentencing. Murder is too serious of a crime to pay your way out of.

Third Degree Murder according to Minnesota state law (Statute 609.195) “Whoever, without intent to effect the death of any person, causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 25 years.” The funny thing about third degree murder is only three states in the U.S. have this degree of murder. It is considered to be a lesser degree of murder.

Second Degree Murder includes both intentional and unintentional murder. According to Minnesota state law (Statute 609.19) “causes the death of a human being with intent to effect the death of that person or another, but without premeditation” and “causes the death of a human being, without intent to effect the death of any person, while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense other than criminal sexual conduct in the first or second degree with force or violence or a drive-by shooting.” Second degree murder has a lot of different clauses and I recommend you look at the statute for yourself.

First Degree Murder is defined by Minnesota state law (Statute 609.185) it “causes the death of a human being with premeditation and with intent to effect the death of the person or of another.” They actually have a list of seven different things that could make someone applicable for a first degree murder charge and that was only the first one. It might be worth your time to take a look at the list.

It has been revealed that Chauvin has been written up 18 times for his discriminatory behavior as a police officer, however all the reports have been closed and dismissed. We do not want the murder of George Floyd to be dismissed. Chauvin held his knee on George Floyd’s neck for almost 9 minutes and ignored his pleas for help. It seems that Chauvin was pretty intent on making sure Floyd was no longer able to breathe and the other officers on the scene let it happen. This is why the charge must change and why the other officers must be charged as accomplices. Here is an article by CNN rounding up everything you need to know about Derek Chauvin.

Derek Chauvin: What we know about the former officer charged in George Floyd’s death

UPDATE

As of June 3, Derek Chauvin has been charged with second degree murder and the other 3 officers involved have been charged with aiding and abetting murder. Originally protestors were demanding he be charged with first degree murder, but here is why second degree murder is a good charge and one that needs stay.

When this case goes to trial, prosecutors need to give sufficient evidence that he committed the crimes he has been charged for. While the video alone is enough evidence for most people, that does not mean it is enough evidence in a court of law. While Chauvin could potentially be charged with first degree murder if there was indeed evidence that he knew Floyd prior to his arrest (which there has been speculation that he and Floyd were coworkers for a year as they both worked as security for a local bar), there is not enough evidence to prove that this is true and that this murder was pre-meditated, even though it was clearly intentional. If the prosecution does not have enough evidence for the first degree charges, then we could lose the trial and Chauvin could face an even shorter sentence. Simply being charged for these crimes is not enough, he has the right to a trial and his attorney will be fighting hard. Although the evidence seems condemning, please do not forget who this system was built to protect and who it was not designed to protect. We do not want Chauvin to get off on only a manslaughter charge.

Video by @fairynadia on Tik Tok

How can I help?

Story chains, quoting MLK, and posting black squares on Instagram don’t help. You need to listen to what the black community actually needs from you. They appreciate the support, but they need you to do more than just post about it on social media. These are a few ways to be an ally to the black community. Sign petitions and then share them on social media to encourage others to sign them. Make donations and then share the links to encourage others to make donations. Support black-owned businesses. Follow black creators. Stop posting your regular content in solidarity and give black creators the platform they should’ve had all along. Join the #AmplifyMelanatedVoices challenge. Start having conversations about it with people who think BLM is a political issue. Educate yourself and educate others. Learn about other police brutality cases and help them get justice too. Advocacy never disrupts the feed.

Petitions to Sign

#JusticeforFloyd Demand the officers who killed George Floyd are charged with murder.

Justice for Big Floyd

Demand Justice for George Floyd

Raise the Degree

Here is a list of other petitions.

Places to Donate

George Floyd Memorial Fund

Black Lives Matter

The Bail Project

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Minnesota Freedom Fund *They have received massive amounts of donations lately and they are grateful for the support, but they will redirect you to other sites that need your donations as well.

People to Contact

Articles to read for further understanding

Why You Need to Stop Saying “All Lives Matter” by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle

Black Bodies and White Souls by Matt Bockenfeld

Campaign Zero

Explained: Why George Floyd’s death has sparked violent protests in the US

How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change by Barack Obama

75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice by Corinne Shutack

Video by @mistercapeheart on Tik Tok.

Books to read

When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele

Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon

How to Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson

Hashtags to follow

#BLM #BLACKLIVESMATTER #BLACK_LIVES_MATTER #SAYTHEIRNAMES #GeorgeFloyd #NOJUSTICENOPEACE #JusticeforFloyd #IMBLACK

Accounts to follow

These accounts may be black creators, white allies, and BLM organizers who have information about the movement, new petitions, places to donate, videos from protests, updates about charges, politics, news, or have insight you should see as to what it is like to be a member of the black community. Please please PLEASE follow black creators. They don’t have to be talking about activism. I promise you there are hundreds of creators out there who make content about the same things you are passionate about and you may not even know they exist because the algorithm and your discover page or your “For You” page are often more likely to show you white creators. You will never truly understand how we are similar and how we are different until you diversify the content you see on social media.

Instagram

  • @blklivesmatter
  • @ckyourprivilege
  • @rachelcargle
  • @NAACP
  • @osopepapatrisse
  • @laylafsaad
  • @scottwoodsrules
  • @shityoushouldcareabout

Tik Tok

  • @fairynadia
  • @gigiray_
  • @mistercapeheart
  • @ashleighhvideos
  • @yeahitstyg
  • @lizzo
  • @taylorcassidyj

Twitter

  • @blklivesmatter
  • @AOC
  • @halsey
  • @johnlegend
  • @janellemonae
  • @tessathompson_x
  • @missyelliot
  • @kekepalmer

IF YOU CHOOSE TO ATTEND PROTESTS

Although these protests are intended to be peaceful, once the police show up, they have a way of quickly turning violent. Be careful, be cautious, and do not lose sight of why you are there in attendance in the first place. You are allowed to be angry, a whole community is hurting. Use your anger to raise your voice. Please do not turn to violence. Please do not take your anger out on local businesses within your community. Agitators may show up to these protests who do not care about your mission, but do what you can to let it be known that they are not with you and that it is not the protestors contributing to the violence. Many people like to use the excuse that violence undermines the message. I beg you, PLEASE pay attention to who is being violent. Peaceful protestors do not show up with the intention of violence. Please seek the truth. Also please pay attention to the behaviors of police officers at the protests. It is critical you watch the videos of them interacting with protestors in order to understand police brutality. Last, but certainly not least, please be careful out there. We want you to continue to use your voice to stand with us and to do so we need you here. Be safe.

Resources for Protestors

For Protestors – By BLM

Safety During Protest – Amnesty International

How to Protect Protestors in Your Photos and Videos by Lewis Gordon

Video by @skincarebyhyram on Tik Tok.

TALK ABOUT THIS. DO NOT STOP TALKING ABOUT THIS.

Talk to your parents, your grandparents, your friends, and anyone who says “All lives matter.” There is no debate that all lives matter. All lives do matter. However, throughout our history many lives have been questioned as to whether or not they matter as much. Have you ever heard someone call into question whether or not white people matter? Do you remember those photos in your history textbook, the ones about the civil rights movement, and segregation? Do you remember the one that shows two water fountains, one clearly labeled as “White Only” and the other one as “Colored,” does that ring a bell? After hundreds of years of black people fighting to be recognized as more than just property, they were then told they couldn’t drink from the same water fountains or sit at the same lunch counters as white people. Do you remember that picture of America?

People of color have been oppressed since the beginning of this country. That is a truth you can’t deny. History books alone are sufficient evidence of our faults and I can almost guarantee they do not hold even half of the story of all the ways we have wronged and continue to wrong people of color in our country. All lives matter, but no one has ever questioned whether or not white lives matter. There is no doubt that white lives matter. Our society was built for white people. There was a time in our country’s history where many white people owned black people because they believed they were the equivalent of property. When white people were not allowed to own them anymore, they made it impossible for them to live as normal people. They were worked ungodly hours, were paid lower than minimum wage, were not allowed to own their own properties, were not allowed to vote, were not allowed to drink from the same water fountains as white people, use the same restrooms as white people, or even sit in the same seats on the bus as white people, and for a long time they were not even considered citizens. When segregation became illegal and people of color were finally granted more rights by our constitution, white people had to be smarter about how they could hold people of color back, how they could ensure an imbalance of power. Welcome to stereotyping, workplace discrimination, voter discrimination, racial profiling, redlining, gentrification, the criminalization of blackness, police brutality, and censorship of black influencers.

White people have struggles. We’re human beings, we all have issues and that is completely valid. The thing you need to remember here is that there has never been a shadow of a doubt that white people matter. White people make the rules. White people have never been told they don’t matter. White people have never been told that they are less than a human. They were never counted as 3/5 of a person for their state’s population. They have never been told that they “looked shady” simply for jogging in their neighborhood. They have never been labeled as problems before they turn 13. They have always, and always will be, counted as human beings and they will never have to fight, protest, riot, call senators, sign petitions, and/or raise funds to prove to the rest of the world that they matter. This is why we say “Black Lives Matter.” We will continue to say it, until everyone believes it. Until no one sees the need to say “All lives matter,” because it will actually be true. If all lives mattered George Floyd’s murderers would currently be serving their sentences.

If someone says to you, “All lives matter,” ask them, “Well then what about George Floyd’s?”

Say. Their. Names.

*I will continue to update this article with more resources and links as the fight continues. Feel free to comment other important resources down below.

Video by @jeremycohen on Tik Tok

Life with a Sister with Special Needs

Life with a Sister with Special Needs

I debated as to whether or not this was something I wanted to share on my blog, but I’ve decided that as a lifestyle blogger, I’m devoted to staying true to what that means. Lifestyle: my life, my story, and anything else that happens along the way. Since today is International Women’s Day, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to share a little more about the strongest woman I know, my sister, Emily.

My sister is a big part of my story. My lifestyle would be completely different if I had a typical sibling, but I don’t, and that’s perfectly fine by me. I have never been ashamed or embarrassed to talk about my sister, and I have never tried to conceal the fact that my sister is different.

I feel that acceptance of people with special needs starts with their siblings and friends stepping out and sharing their stories and publicly expressing their love and support for these individuals. You post pictures with your best friends for the world to see, don’t these people deserve the same kind of acknowledgment? The answer is yes.

I have already introduced her a little bit here, but that was back in October, so today, I’m going to tell you a little more about my sister, Emily, what it’s like to live with a person with special needs, what special needs are in general, and you how you can be more accepting.

Another reason I decided now would be the perfect time to share more about her with you all is because it is Disability Awareness Month in Indiana, which is Emily and I’s home.

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Em and I cheesin’ on my seventeenth birthday.

For those of you who don’t know, special needs is another way of describing someone with disabilities. My sister has Down Syndrome and Autism; Those are her disabilities. She is not a typical person, but that’s okay because she’s an extraordinary person.

First things first, she is NOT stupid. She may be a little slower with some things, but she is extremely intelligent (more than she likes to let on) and incompetent should be the adjective farthest from your mind when describing her. She can do several things on her own, but many things like tying her shoes and brushing her teeth, she can’t do by herself.

In many ways though, she is very much like you and me. She is twenty years old, she loves listening, singing, and dancing to music, she enjoys watching TV in her free time, and she loves food (especially bread and french fries, I mean, who can’t relate?). She also has the most beautiful smile in the world and an extremely contagious laugh.

Now that you understand her personality a bit, we need to address what makes her different. These are things that people just need to understand. Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder, also known as Trisomy 21. She has an extra chromosome that you and I don’t have, which means that person can have mental and physical struggles that typical people don’t have. She was born this way and there is no cure, it’s just who she is and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having Down Syndrome.

However, my sister was not born with Autism, but most people aren’t. My sister was diagnosed with Autism when she was three years old, right around the time I was born. My parents took her to the doctor when they started noticing some things. Up until my sister turned three, she was a typical kid with Downs. She played with her toys as toys are supposed to be played with, she would count to ten and sing her ABC’s, make eye contact with people, carry on small conversations, and address people by their names. The most important thing about all those things was that she talked.

One day my sister slowly stopped making eye contact and started shaking her toys instead of playing with them like other kids do. Most toys she lost interest in. She was no longer as responsive and had a harder time making eye contact. The worst part of her diagnosis was that she dropped speech altogether. She is now what we call nonverbal. I am now seventeen years old and I have never heard my sister talk.

Autism has a wide range of symptoms and common traits. For example, shaking toys instead of playing with them is one, and so is lack of eye contact. My sister gets upset sometimes. She gets frustrated and we don’t really know why. We can assume, but most of the time there is really no way for us to know because she can’t tell us.

We’ve tried every method of communication under the sun, but she’s never really connected with one specific method of communication. When she was little she used to sign, the used PECS (picture exchange card system), and we even tried the iPad apps when she was older. She still uses PECS from time to time, but she just hasn’t connected with any of those methods.

It’s not hopeless by any means. She still vocalizes and has other ways to communicate her needs to us. There is actually medically speaking no reason why one day she won’t just all of a sudden be able to talk, she just has to continue learning, practicing and fighting. She is unbelievably strong, but it’s not an easy fight.

When she gets upset, she takes it out on herself. She’ll tug at her hair and use her nails to dig into her own skin, which is called Dermatillomania. I know it sounds bad, but it really is nothing too severe. It’s just so devastating for us to watch her hurt herself because she can’t express to us what she wants.

But I get it, because can you imagine not knowing how to express your needs to someone? Not being able to tell your family you love them? Not being able to speak up when someone treats you badly? You would be trapped in your own head just because there is some unstoppable force that keeps you silent. It takes a hell of a lot of strength for Emily to get up every day knowing that.

Now, I know your immediate reaction after reading all this might be to pity my sister and my family, but that is actually the last thing that I want you to do. What I ask of you is to try to understand, or at least be willing to hear me out and get the full story.

IMG_1652
Emmy and I being photogenic outside Kilwin’s Ice Cream in St. Joe

This is not a sap story. Emily is a beautiful and brilliant girl who is extremely happy and content with her life. Words cannot express how blessed we are that she is a part of our family. She is the greatest sister I could’ve ever asked for. Although she can’t communicate and do many things on her own, she is still living every day to the fullest because she is surrounded by love. She has had the greatest of impacts on my life.

My sister and I are very close. We chill out, listen to music, and dance together. We’ll watch TV together sometimes too, it just depends on how Em’s feeling. I understand things about her that not even my parents always see, and this is part of why I’ll always look out for her. I also know that she’ll always look out for me, as a big sister should, even though she can’t say so, I know so. And I’m telling you with absolute confidence that someday, she will tell me. I swear to it. Every day she gets a little closer to getting those words to roll right off her tongue.

Things can be hard and we can have rough days, but we consistently have more good days than bad ones. I have a completely different outlook on life because of her and her strength. She continues to live and be happy regardless of what she can’t do, and that takes a lot out of a person. I will forever admire her.

Thank you for allowing me to share more of Emily and I’s story with you. Hopefully, you got some insight from it and are now able to think of people like my sister in a more positive way.

Please always understand that people with special needs are people FIRST, so please don’t underestimate the difference you could make in their life because just saying hi, introducing yourself, and giving them the acknowledgment all human beings desire has the ability to make their entire day.

Inclusion is everything. The littlest things can make the biggest difference, so always have an open mind and heart. ♥️

Thanks for stopping by,
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Introducing Em

Introducing Em

Today things change on this blog. As I have been slowly revealing more and more of myself to you here on the blog, I would like to continue to do so today by taking what knowledge you may already have about me and taking it into perspective. Today I’m explaining to you why I am who I am. It’s all because of a very special person in my life. So without further ado, allow me to introduce Em. Continue reading “Introducing Em”