How can I help? The George Floyd era: Part 1

Many of us are READY to leap into action, here are some options you might not have heard yet.

I don’t even know how to start this thing. I won’t waste much time setting the stage, you already know what’s going on. You’re hurting as well, so I’m going to preface this as briefly as I can.

The U.S. and subsequently the rest of the world has finally reached the tipping point. We’re no longer passively accepting the persistent murder of black and brown people, due to individual and systemic racism perpetuated by Police. Structural racism is here, it’s on the table and it’s being discussed.

I’ve gathered some specific things we can all do right now, to help. I’m going to save the historical context and explanations for some lofty proposals for another post, now is the time for action.

Stay with me throughout if you can, you might find these options intriguing.

1.) Take care of yourself

This is a tough, ass, time. There are many grim realities we are being forced to reckon with, that can make you want to curl up in a ball. Before taking the challenge of helping others, please care for yourself and make sure that you are whole and able to give your best, to help make a difference, ESPECIALLY if you are black.

To my black friends:

You have been in this fight involuntarily your whole life, you deserve a break. Just because everyone finally prioritized this issue doesn’t mean that you currently have to; relax, recharge and come back refreshed ready to fight another day (if you want to). You don’t even need to read this, go get a drink.

To everyone else:

reflect. Reflect on who you are, who you have been. Think about who you were before all of this happened and how you are changed now. Many of us feel shame for not doing enough to help prior to the mass awakening, how will you reconcile that? Keep in mind, that you are human and the world is full of tragedies that provide many worthy causes to fight for. Don’t judge yourself if you had other things on your mind, though now is a good chance to make up for any inactivity.

Now is our time to tag into this fight, many people have already been fighting and will keep fighting for this cause after the sensation dies down, let’s do what we can now to honor those before us and make it easier for those that come after us – keep an eye out for that savior complex though.

Once you are ready, you can support the many resources and organizations that are doing great work for people’s rights and social justice. You’ve most likely heard of a lot of them so instead of listing links, I’ll share the Black Lives Matter “carrd” that consolidates everything.

Now I know, a lot of you are not satisfied with that, it’s not enough. What else can you do?!

SUPPORT THESE SPECIFIC INITIATIVES:

2.) End “Qualified Immunity”

What is Qualified Immunity? It is an “atextual, ahistorical, judicial doctrine that shields state officials [police] from liability, even when they violate people’s constitutional rights.” – Jay Schweikert.

In essence, it is a law that makes Police Officers IMMUNE to penalty, UNLESS the plaintiff (victim) can prove that their case meets these 2 very specific qualifications. Are you with me?

For a more thorough explanation, read this post by @SpencerMcManus, a Litigation Associate and Georgetown Law Graduate, who posted this to his Instagram and is advocating for QI’s removal.

A.) A jury can conclude that the officer used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment (illegal search & seizure).

B.) A reasonable officer would have known that they were breaking a “clearly established” law.

As you can see, the very specific language such as “reasonable officer” and “clearly established” are actually used as tools to create a VAGUE expectation of Police. These statutes are created loopholes that makes it nearly impossible to ever convict an officer of wrongdoing.

Regardless of the restrictions placed on officers for use of force, when they kill or commit wrongdoings next, they face no reprecussions which is the ultimate perpetuator of violence.

How do we end it?

Representatives Ayana Pressley and Justin Amash have introduced the Ending Qualified Immunity Act (read the bill here) with bipartisan support.

Spencer even prepared a statement that you can use to email our State Senators, Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, to support the Bill (Spencer for President).

We can also ask to have it included in the Democrats’ racial justice package that is currently being drafted.

I know this is a lot of info and very jargony, if you would like to use my email that I wrote as a template I can send it directly to you to copy and paste, just let me know in the comments.

3.) Support H.R. 40

H.R. 40 is titled “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act.” (read the bill here). It’s relatively self-explanatory and seeks to create a commision to study the effects that slavery and discrimination have caused to this present day AND apply appropriate remedies.

This was taken from Ben and Jerry’s (yes, the ice cream company) phenomenal statement regarding white supremacy in the U.S.

Read Ben and Jerry’s original, powerful statement here

This bill would not only search for quantifiable ways to repair the deep wounds imposed on POC from a deep-rooted history of racism, it would OFFICIALLY ACKNOWLEDGE the tangible trauma from slavery and discrimination that permeates our society, then find solutions to directly remedy it.

This could start a revolution in how we view our country, each other and ourselves. The domino effect of such an action could yield tremendous and unimagined positive results.

So once again, write your Representatives, in my case Nancy Pelosi, to support this bill.

Find your representative here.

3.5) Look before you leap

A campaign called #8can’twait has gained a lot of traction lately. Started by “Campaign Zero,” they suggest 8 restrictive measures on “use of force” intended to reduce police killings. I, like many others, was foaming at the mouth, ready to fully support a carefully constructed plan, towards positive reform.

I have since been illuminated, after talking to my intelligent friends about why this idea fails. I would explain myself why this isn’t a good idea but Sarah Fathalla did it so well already.

Above all, 8can’twait misses the ISSUE, the intentional weaponization of Police against black people. Nowhere in their language do they mention the specific targeting of black communities. Will these 8 measures reduce killings? Most likely… but killings are just one way how police terrorize communities. Random traffic stops, detaining people for “looking like a suspect,” physical, emotional, verbal abuse and general acts of intimidation and subordination are just some of the psychological damage police cause in communities. Also, SF already has all 8 measures yet has an “F” rating on policescorecard.org.

Backing a movement like this is seductive, it’s reasonable, moderate and palatable for a large base in the U.S. But these measures don’t work, incrementalization of change – clearly, has not been sufficient, this initiative seems to co-opt the momentum that has been garnered of understanding the plight of black people in the U.S. for a more moderate, end-of-pipe solution that side steps the issue at the core.

We need more than surface reforms, we need to redefine the notion of policing entirely. Don’t fear phrases like “defund” or “abolish” the police. I understand, that rhetoric is jarring but don’t take it at face value. Look into the ideas behind them and the complexities beneath the catchphrases.

Principally, be careful where you invest your civic power.

4.) Vote with your wallet

I understand that at this point, it’s inappropriate to tell a black or marginalized person to vote. After years centuries of disenfranchisement, voter suppression and fraud, how can you expect the people being directly oppressed by “the system” to use that very system, to liberate themselves?

Although, I still believe in the necessary practice and power of voting, I will never pressure an African-American person to vote.

For everyone else out there who no longer has faith in the system, consider this:

My girlfriend’s mother, immigrated here from Venezuela, a country in turmoil under the rule of a tyrant dictator, Nicolas Maduro. Maduro, BANNED his main opposition from running. Additionally, Gov. officials are forced to vote in favor of the Government and voters canNOT vote anonymously.

Yes, our country is ass-backwards sometimes, yes our system is corrupt, however history has shown that sometimes it WORKS. Civil Rights were passed through the courts, same-sex marriage – legalized through the courts and the laws that permit police to behave the way they do – through the courts.

We (native born U.S. citizens) do not know what it feels like to TRULY not have a voice. Those fleeing dictatorships, totalitarian regimes, war-torn, militia/cartel ruled countries, know what it means to have no power and know what it looks like when they do. Our fellow black citizens have grown up in a similarly authoritarian atmosphere so I do not expect them to abandon their distrust and vote.

My point isn’t to say, “it could be worse.” I’m saying, we need to think globally. I believe rejecting our given, unearned right to vote is a slap in the face to those that gave up their lives to move here.

Forfeiting our right to vote, paves the way to authoritarian rule. Venezuela used to be a Democracy, in fact they still claim to be. Not to suggest that the downfall is the fault of Venezuelans but we must look at their story as a cautionary tale for us. Use your privilege to let your voice be heard.

It doesn’t end there though, we need to be AWARE of the many attempts at voter suppression and call them out. If you don’t like how the system is working, don’t give up, change it.

If you do choose to forfeit your vote, there are other options.

Be VERY selective and scrutinize whom you give your money to. Only, give your money to people, products, corporations that you are certain have a social consciousness and have you in mind.

If any company or brand has chosen to stay silent at this time, CANCELLED. There’s usually a plethora of options ready to take their place. Don’t be afraid to let go, corporations are not culture.

Above I showed a great example of corporate activism (oxymoron?) with Ben and Jerry’s. As a company that benefits from people’s money, they have the responsibility to pay it forward and use their platform to- at the literal least – acknowledge a major societal issue.

I recently decided to personally boycott Lagunitas Beer as they’ve remained absolutely SILENT during this critical time of vocalizing support (they were also bought out by Heineken recently). Opposed to Drake’s Beer, a local brewery from San Leandro, CA that had this to say.

@drakesbeer

5.) Stop putting people down when they choose to support.

I have seen a LOT of criticism of people’s intentions, methods of showing support for Black lives during this time. Of course, there are some people out their who aren’t supporting in earnest. Some are doing it for their image, conscience, etc. I say save your energy, let them be. Let them have their vanity parade, they will reap the consequences of their actions one day. Save your outrage and contempt for those actively working against your agenda, intentionally looking to oppress or cause harm.

I understand that posting a black square isn’t literally going to change anything. However, the symbolism behind it, the wave en masse of collectively acknowledging a reality and obligating others to recognize the importance of an issue DOES. Do not underestimate the value of SYMBOLISM. Would you apply the same argument that flying a Confederate Flag doesn’t do anything?

~

Don’t feel pressured to be something you’re not. Reflect on your skills. What do you have to contribute? If social media isn’t your thing, it doesn’t have to be. If screaming in a megaphone and storming the streets isn’t for you then don’t force it. Use what you have available to make change the way you know how.

6.) Help me create a SOCIAL JUSTICE, SOCIAL MEDIA!

As I’ve been in full social justice warrior mode, I’ve been reaching out to friends, asking questions, seeking and spreading information, trying to find out what I can possibly do to help. I quickly learned that our current platforms for organizing and spreading important info are NOT cutting it.

I posted a schedule of the Bay Area Protests on my Instagram, that I got off Facebook, to receive numerous replies saying, “thank you, I’ve been looking for this.” WHY? How is that not being circulated better? Why don’t more people know about qualified immunity? Or H.R. 40?

Our current social media provide the bare minimum… since they are not intended for social change or collectivizing, a lot of information falls through the cracks – aside from being greedy, untrustworthy, diabolical, manipulative, gargantuan entities with money and power beyond what we imagine.

I want to create a not-for-profit, “social justice based social media.” A platform with the intention of creating large, societal change. A space with open forums for discussion to hear multiple voices, consolidate information, categorize different movements, provide only verified news articles and collect tax deductible donations without snagging any of the profits.

My cousin Mark Kinoshita, is a brilliant coder who TAUGHT A CODING COURSE AT CSUMB at 23, before he graduated [let that sink in] already created a mock up of the app, as well as a catchy name.

I’M CALLING OUT TO ALL MY SMART AND CAPABLE FRIENDS.

We need a diverse team, coders, lawyers, designers, passionate people of all races and ethnicities, LGBTQ+, the more the merrier. We can’t have another app coded by white, downtown SF, Patagonia jacket mofo’s. If you didn’t know, implicit bias SHOWS UP in coding.

To get things done we need to work together. We need to pool our resources and combine our talents, to create something that is bigger than what we could do individually.

It’s time my friends. If the protests and pandemic weren’t enough, NOVEMBER IS COMING. We NEED TO GET THAT PIECE OF S*** OUT OF OFFICE

It is imperative for us to build as many defenses, legally, socially, structurally etc; to prepare for the white backlash that is certainly on the way. Think about how we responded to Obama, the U.S. has a history of retaliation by the hegemonic institutions against the oppressed [read “White Rage” by Carol Anderson]. I don’t know what it will look like but I know it is coming.

So LET’S DO IT. Let’s work together. Whatever you can offer will be appreciated. Just don’t Zuckerberg me.

~~~

– If you attended protests recently like myself, I encourage you to get tested for COVID-19. If you live in San Francisco check here.

– Be on the lookout for Part 2 of this post: How did we get here?

Thank you for reading this far, I hope I could provide a little help and optimism. I want to honor a few of the MANY lives that were lost most recently, that lead to this post. Remember, almost all of them have yet to receive any justice. Say their names and please help their family’s find peace.

Black Lives Matter

4 Comments

  1. I’d appreciate a copy of your email as a template! That’d be awesome. Thanks Nick, great post and great writing.

  2. Excellent Nick. I’m proud of you being really active and I keep learning from your blogs.

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