Through a trying year that saw a global pandemic, a reckoning on systemic racism within the United States, and a growing political divide among the country’s citizens, 2020 was a challenging year—to say the very least. Among these hardships, there has been progress made during the year, as the United States closes out 2020 with vaccines to thwart the spread of COVID-19 and a new presidential administration assuming leadership in 2021.
While mourning continues due to the loss of Black life during murders such as the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Manuel Ellis, Daniel Prude, Nina Pop, Casey Goodson, Andre Maurice Hill, and George Floyd, the promise of progress from grassroots initiatives has reached the mainstream. The establishment of groups such as Allies For Black Americans, a rise in societal consciousness surrounding systemic racism, and the election of progressives such as Cori Bush who was elected to Congress in November have paved a path for effective change; yet there is much more work to be done. Carrying this momentum into the new year is necessary to create a seismic shift toward creating a country that is inclusive of all and equitable for every citizen.
Stay in the know
In 2021, commit to exploring fresh news resources. Supporting news outlets that have served the African American community is crucial to remaining abreast of important issues and challenges. Subscribe to and follow the social-media accounts for news sources such as The Philadelphia Tribune, the Los Angeles Sentinel, Atlanta Daily World, The Miami Times, the New York Amsterdam News, and The Chicago Defender. Not only will these and similar outlets provide important news, supporting Black-led media is necessary to elevating Black voices.
Examine the opposing commentary
Expanding outside of your news cycle also requires examining points of view from every political angle. Though it is painful and difficult work to listen to some of the commentary that is not only in opposition to creating a system in which Black lives matter, but also often based in untruths, examining the points of view on these news stations is necessary. Remaining educated about the mindset of those opposed to the movement of saving Black lives is equally important as connecting with stories aligned with a mission that safeguards them.
Become immersed in the stories of Black Americans
Whether classic fiction, autobiographies, or new literature, reading books that reflect the experiences of Black people in America is integral to cultivating an environment of inclusion. To create an equitable country, these stories must be read, understood, and shared, ultimately being adopted into the education system that has historically ignored them. Study classic works by writers such as Charles W. Chesnutt, W.E.B. Du Bois, Maya Angelou, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Ann Petry, Ralph Ellison, and Zora Neale Hurston. For younger readers—or those who are kids at heart—the Mildred D. Taylor collection of stories, such as “The Land” and “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry,” which are centered on the fictional Logan family are enthralling and educational. Necessary reading in young-adult literature, Angie Thomas’s “The Hate U Give”—upon which a 2018 movie was based—affords a heartbreaking fictional story that is based on the all-too-common reality of Black youth being murdered at the hands of police.
Remaining committed to eradicating longstanding, racist institutions that are the norm can be exhausting. It has been exhausting for the countless activists who have been working against racist systems within the United States for more than 400 years. Combatting systemic racism requires a movement of people who will not falter when challenges arise. To be effective, antiracist activists, allies, and supporters of antiracism must maintain their mental strength to stand against racist norms.
Moving into 2021, leaning on each other for understanding and support is important to the antiracism movement. Many groups such as Allies For Black Americans provide support for their members to find help within the community. To find a mentor, visit the AFBA mentorship page on Facebook and stay strong in 2021 while we cultivate an equitable future.