We’ve had questions from folks about how to engage with the issues of police violence and systemic racism raised by the Black Lives Matter movement in their CAAT meetings.
This post is written for the white folks in our network, especially white group coordinators, with some reflection questions to ask yourselves when tabling this at meetings.
- Be aware there is a lot of rage and grief right now, and people are hurting. Be thoughtful about if and how this will come up on your agenda, and how you will structure and facilitate your discussion. Who is in your group, and how might they be affected by this? If you are a predominantly white group, what will you need to have a conversation about racism respectfully and with accountability?
- It might be ‘topical’ to include this as a meeting agenda item, but for many people this isn’t ‘news’, it’s their lived reality- and it’s not new. Is this the first time your group is talking about this issue, and if so what does that mean? This is not a one-off issue to raise in a group meeting: we need meaningful change, and that means long term work. Think about how your group will commit to ongoing anti racist work, even after the news cycle moves on. What will you do in two months from now, six months, a year? What changes will you bring in to your work?
- Reflect on your personal and group practice. There are resource lists everywhere on the internet for white folks who are learning about this, and a starting point on our blog here. What are you doing to address anti-blackness and police violence in your work? When you organise?
- The US has a particular history, but it’s a UK issue too. Educate yourself on the UK context, and your area’s local history of racism and police violence. You can read more about the UK history here, and find a comprehensive list of further resources on our blog. Look for local organisations and educators working in your area, from Scotland to London.
- If you are using content from black educators and people of colour, recognise that folks are doing an incredible amount of free labour right now. Pause before you reach out to someone and ask for something: folks are getting swamped with requests. Are you asking them to personally educate you? Have you checked out the wealth of open-access resources available online instead? If you’re on a black educators page and you’ve found their content useful, look to see if they have a patreon or paypal address that you can pay for the content with. Some people don’t want direct donations, but may also be asking people to donate to community bail funds or other fundraisers when accessing materials, so look for this too.
- When reposting content, consider how you can share materials so you’re amplifying messages effectively. Whose content are you reposting? Have you given an attribution for the original post? If you are posting or reposting Black Lives Matter content on your social media channels, do you have a clear policy for how you will deal with comments so you don’t provide a social media platform for racism? If someone makes racist comments on a post or asks questions, will you address, hide or delete them? How will you decide when to engage with comments and when to delete or hide them? Who in your group will do that, and what support will they need to do this effectively?
Looking for more resources? Here’s a blog with immediate actions you can take, and links to some resource lists to learn more.