The world is an especially uncomfortable place right now. First shelter in place, fear of a deadly contagion, an uncertain future, loss of jobs and stability, and now another unacceptable loss, that of precious life. An incident a few weeks back had already sparked conversations in the office when a woman we work with walked out onto her front steps in what people consider a “liberal” suburb, to find four cop cars pulled strategically around two black teenagers that had been walking down her street. She overheard one of the officers say “no, no, we just want to help you get where you’re going…,” read loud and clear to those young men and anyone else listening as – someone called and said you look “suspicious," you don’t belong here, and you need to leave because people here are afraid of you.
We’re ashamed to admit that in 2020 we were shocked by this story, having believed to that moment that this kind of base, dehumanizing, humiliating racism exists in other communities, in other parts of the country, by other people that just don’t know any better. And the harder thing to face is that we were able to go on feeling this moral superiority because we’re white, and if we choose to just scroll through our Instagram feeds full of people that agree with us then we’re not confronted by these brutal realities if we don’t want to be.
We have never worried that our child would walk out the door and be shot for putting his hoodie up, we’ve never been afraid that a member of our family would be pulled over or confronted by the authorities and find themselves in a situation that escalates to the point that they are killed, and if we were walking on any street in the United States, we wouldn’t have four cop cars pull across the sidewalk, block our path, and question us in front of gawking strangers simply for having the audacity to walk down the street. These are not part of our reality but we now, more than ever, imagine that they still are for many, many people of color.
The death of George Floyd is born out of this kind of willful blindness and if people of all colors don’t join this chorus and keep the momentum moving toward real change, there will be too many more wasted lives to bear. As individuals and as a company, we pride ourselves on being clear about who we are and what we stand for – so to be clear: black lives matter, Trump must go, and we have to remove our blinders and contribute to changing this fucked up world right now. We stand with the protestors in every great American town and city, and as a start, today made $5000 in donations to Color of Change, The Bail Project, FIERCE, Release Aging People in Prison/RAPP, and the ACLU. If you have the means, we put together a guide to these and other worthwhile organizations below.
AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION
The nation’s premier defender of the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, the ACLU continues to fight government abuse and to vigorously defend individual freedoms including speech and religion, a woman’s right to choose, the right to due process, citizens’ rights to privacy and much more. Your gift will fund critical work to protect voting rights, demand that vulnerable people in prisons, jails and immigration detention centers be released, and fight to ensure reproductive health care remains open and accessible to all who need it. Find out more and donate here.
THE BAIL PROJECT
The Bail Project, Inc. is a non-profit organization designed to combat mass incarceration by disrupting the money bail system ‒ one person at a time. The organization believes that paying bail for someone in need is an act of resistance against a system that criminalizes race and poverty and an act of solidarity with local communities and movements for decarceration. Over the next five years, The Bail Project will open dozens of sites in high-need jurisdictions with the goal of paying bail for tens of thousands of low-income Americans, all while collecting stories and data that prove money bail is not necessary to ensure people return to court. They pledge to not stop until meaningful change is achieved and the presumption of innocence is no longer for sale. Donate here.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. They affirm the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum and are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise. Find out more and donate here.
BLACK VISIONS COLLECTIVE
BLVC is a Black-led, Queer and Trans centering organization whose mission is to organize powerful, connected Black communities and dismantle systems of violence. They do this through building strategic campaigns, investing in Black leadership, and engaging in cultural and narrative organizing. Since 2017, Black Visions Collective,has been putting into practice the lessons learned from organizations before them in order to shape a political home for Black people across Minnesota. They aim to center their work in healing and transformative justice principles, intentionally develop their organizations core “DNA” to ensure sustainability, and develop Minnesota’s emerging Black leadership to lead powerful campaigns. By building movements from the ground up with an integrated model, they are creating the conditions for long term success and transformation. Find out more and donate here.
COLOR OF CHANGE
Color of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. They help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us, move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America, and lead campaigns that build real power for Black communities. Color of Change believes that the forces that shape our lives are interrelated. We cannot end racism in one area without tackling it in all areas. Racist policing is propped up by racist media narratives on crime and justice. Political inequality is reinforced by economic inequality. Unlivable wages and unfair hiring practices make it easier for corporations to continue to exploit Black workers and consumers. The organization designs winning strategies to change the written and unwritten rules in the industries that affect Black people’s lives the most and have the greatest potential to advance racial justice. Find out more and donate here.
COMMUNITIES UNITED FOR POLICE REFORM
Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is a campaign that is working to end discriminatory policing in New York. Bringing together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists they are advancing policies that protect the safety and rights of all New Yorkers to create true community safety. They are in the courts fighting to hold police accountable for violating New Yorkers' constitutional rights and training communities to know their rights and to observe and document police abuse. The organization engages in strategic direct action, organizing and civic engagement to build the power of communities most impacted by abusive policing and are in Albany and at City Hall demanding law and policy changes that advance police accountability to improve safety for communities. Find out more and donate here.
EQUAL JUSTICE INITIATIVE
Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society. Founded in 1989 by Bryan Stevenson, a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer, EJI is a private, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced, or abused in state jails and prisons. They challenge the death penalty and excessive punishment and provide re-entry assistance to formerly incarcerated people. Find out more and donate here.
FIERCE (Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment) is a membership-based organization building the leadership and power of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth of color in New York City. They develop politically conscious leaders who are invested in improving themselves and their communities through youth-led campaigns, leadership development programs, and cultural expression through arts and media. A smaller grassroots organization, FIERCE is dedicated to racial and economic justice and is working on the ground with LGBTQ youth in the West Village, in neighborhood high schools and organizations, running Know Your Rights trainings across the city, doing movement building with QTPOC youth across the country, and holding political education programs for LGBTQ youth of color. They are dedicated to cultivating the next generation of social justice movement leaders who are dedicated to ending all forms of oppression. Find out more and donate here.
NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. is America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans. LDF also defends the gains and protections won over the past 75 years of civil rights struggle and works to improve the quality and diversity of judicial and executive appointments.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) was founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall. Although LDF's primary purpose was to provide legal assistance to poor African Americans, its work over the years has brought greater justice to all Americans. Originally affiliated with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), LDF has been an entirely separate organization since 1957. LDF has been involved in more cases before the U.S. Supreme Court than any organization except the U.S. Department of Justice. Although LDF works primarily through the courts, its strategies include advocacy, educational outreach, legislation monitoring, coalition building and policy research. Additionally, it provides scholarships for exceptional African-American students. Find out more and donate here.
NATIONAL CONGRESS OF BLACK WOMEN
The National Congress of Black Women, Inc. (NCBW) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the educational, political, economic and cultural development of African American women and their families. NCBW serves as a non-partisan voice and instrument on issues pertaining to the appointment of African American women at all levels of government, and to increase African American women's participation in the educational, political, economic and social arenas.
Currently, NCBW provides opportunities for women for leadership and decision-making positions in government, non-profit organizations and the private sector. Find out more and donate here.
RELEASE AGING PEOPLE IN PRISON / RAPP
Release Aging People in Prison/RAPP is an independent grassroots organizing and policy project whose mission is the transformation of the US prison system. RAPP works to end mass incarceration and promote racial justice by focusing on aging people in prison, many of whom are long-termers convicted of serious crimes. Most of these women and men have transformed their lives and developed profound skills and abilities. They could be released from prison with little or no threat to public safety; they could enhance public safety. Yet many are denied release, often for political reasons, and they needlessly remain imprisoned into old age. These elders could return to their communities if current mechanisms such as parole and compassionate release were correctly utilized. Find out more and donate here.
All information and imagery courtesy of each individual organization's website.