On June 1, I published a post titled “Dear Birmingham” in response to black-owned businesses being damaged and reporters being assaulted in the unrest of May 31 and June 1. In the post, I declared that rioting is wrong and discussed the importance of peaceful protests and strategic political action.
The next day I decided to remove this post.
A reader that I greatly respect helped me realize that my post could be misinterpreted as a lack of support for the young men and women on the frontlines of the Black Lives Matter movement. She also helped me realize my post could imply that I value property over people.
Of course, neither of those is true. I absolutely support the people putting their lives on the line for this cause. And when I wrote that post I wasn’t thinking about property; I was thinking about people. I was thinking about a friend who’d been physically hurt in the unrest. I was thinking about the black business owners whose livelihoods had been hurt. But later I turned to social media and saw those same business owners refusing to dwell on their own losses at such a time as this. They remained focused on the cause. And this was a wake-up call for me.
I removed my post because I realized that writing about rioting being wrong was short-sighted and not a good use of my platform. I realized that focusing on the method was distracting from the message. And the message is this: BLACK LIVES MATTER and we must fight until our justice system and government act like it.
Elaine Welteroth recently said, “The question right now is not whether you or I condone violence or mayhem. The question to ask is what you and I have done to actually prevent this outcome.”
On Blackout Tuesday I took a break from social media and spent the time thinking about how to best use my platform right now. And Elaine’s quote helped me realize that this is the time that I need to do what journalists do. I need to gather and give information that will help me and others take meaningful action.
The original goal of the post I removed was to show love for my city, but that message was lost as I lost focus.
So, I will try again.
If you want to help Birmingham businesses that sustained losses during the recent events, here are ways you can:
Birmingham Business Relief Fund
And here is a list of organizations in Birmingham doing the work to bring about social justice and real change:
Black Lives Matter Birmingham Chapter
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Equal Justice Initiative (based in nearby Montgomery, Alabama)
Be a Blessing Birmingham
Offender Alumni Association
Also, let’s remember the importance of supporting black businesses at all times – not just when the nation is in an uproar.
BhamNow.com has done a great job compiling lists of local black-owned businesses:
17 Black-owned restaurants to eat at in Birmingham
Support 17 Black-owned retail shops + creative services NOW
15 Black-owned bakeries + dessert shops cooking up something sweet in Birmingham
Birmingham, I love you. And I promise to be better for you.
For ways to take action at a national level, please refer to the suggestions in this post.