White People 4 Black Lives
Did you know that it only takes about 3.5% of the population to enact meaningful change? David Robson, writing for the BBC says, “Looking at hundreds of campaigns over the last century, Chenoweth found that nonviolent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns. And although the exact dynamics will depend on many factors, she has shown it takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.”
I was floored when I heard that statistic at a recent White People 4 Black Lives orientation meeting — WP4BL refer to themselves as the activist wing of Aware-LA, which itself is an affiliate of a national organization called SURJ (Showing Up For Racial Justice). They went on to speak about how three and half percent in the United States is around 7 million people and here in Los Angeles was close to two hundred thousand.
That doesn’t feel like that much and when you think about it in the context of this moment. It’s certainly in reach. Progress is already being made with the arrests of the three other officers involved in George Floyd’s murder, Eric Garcetti has pledged to redirect some of the LAPD’s budget towards reinvestment of black and brown communities, and the House of Representatives is on track to announce a sweeping police reform bill.
But there is also so much to be done. Breonna Taylor’s killers still haven’t been arrested and charged. Cities across the country are fighting tooth and nail against even the smallest measure of police reform, and police departments are still outfitting themselves with military equipment that is more fitting for a warzone than the streets of an American city. Additionally, there are dozens of videos posted on Twitter daily documenting unprovoked excessive force by police.
In facing this uphill battle, it’s paramount that white people not only show up, but also figure out how to do it in the right way, and that involves getting yourself educated.
Full disclosure: I have a long way to go on this as well. My media intake is criminally lacking in diversity and so is my peer group and that’s something I need to work on, but I can attest that WP4BL is a great place to start.
I’ll admit it. It’s hard to talk about these issues. I’d like to think of myself as a informed progressive, but there are still many questions I don’t have the answer too. And we can’t be going to our BIPOC family and friends to get them to help us understand. The great thing is though that the tools are already there, and if you are looking for a community of white folk who are on the same journey as you, I strongly recommend signing up for an orientation here.
You won’t regret it, because when black lives are free, everyone is free.