Today is not a day of rest. Today is not a day off from work. Today is not a day to check things off of your to-do list. Today is a day to educate yourself on the hundreds of years of systemic racism and oppression that black Americans have suffered through, at the hands of our government and our society. Today is a day to amplify black voices. Take today to learn, understand, and appreciate black history, but don’t stop there. It is not up to black people to teach us about their culture, we must teach ourselves. Every day we must fight to protect black people because Black Lives Matter, and we can achieve this with education. 

What started as an effort by the music industry to raise awareness and combat police brutality has developed into a social media phenomenon overnight, known as Blackout Tuesday. Companies and workers all over the country have paused their normal business activities to focus on the Black Lives Matter movement. Since the Blackout Tuesday notion was originally posted, hundreds have taken to Instagram to post a simple black square on their profile page, and it has created a controversy amongst social media users. Many users claim that simply posting the black square on Instagram is performative, and does not truly create change. Others disagree. I have friends and family who have posted the square, and to them, it is their way of standing in solidarity with the black community and with the allies who are protesting the racial injustices of our country. 

In a world of many uncertainties, however, one thing is certain: we must do more. Posting an Instagram story about racial injustice does not make you an activist, and using the hashtag #blacklivesmatter does not make you an ally. What makes you an activist and an ally is educating yourself and those around you on racial bias, white privilege, and police brutality. Sit down and have a conversation with your family about Trayvon Martin. Watch the news and learn about Breonna Taylor. Know that “I Can’t Breathe,” were the last words of Eric Garner. Register to vote, and then when you go to vote, know who you are voting for. Donate. March peacefully. Say his name. Say her name. Say their names. Whether you choose to post a black square on Instagram or not, you must go further than simply posting about justice for George Floyd. You must watch, and read, and learn, and discuss the racism that is so prominent in America. This country is not one that I want to raise children in, so I am determined to change it. It is no longer enough to simply not be racist. We must actively be anti-racist if we want to see a change. I am white, I am an active ally, and you should be too. 

Below is a list of books, television shows, movies, and music that will help you educate yourself and those around you on the racial injustices of America. These titles educate the viewer, support black artists, writers, producers, actors, and storytellers, and amplify black voices that we must listen to. 

George Floyd (CNN.com)

George Floyd (via CNN.com)

Breonna Taylor (nytimes.com)

Breonna Taylor (via nytimes.com)

MOVIES

  1. Hidden Figures (Hulu)
  2. Queen & Slim (HBO Max)
  3. Just Mercy (iTunes)
  4. LA 92 (Netflix)
  5. Malcolm X (Netflix)
  6. Hairspray (Netflix)

TELEVISION SHOWS

  1. Dear White People (Netflix)
  2. Insecure (HBO Max)
  3. Black-ish (Hulu)
  4. When They See Us (Netflix)

MUSIC

  1. To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
  2. Glory by Common & John Legend
  3. We Gotta Pray by Alicia Keys
  4. Cops Shot The Kid by Nas
  5. This is America by Childish Gambino
  6. How Many by Miguel

BOOKS 

  1. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
  2. Well-Read Black Girl edited by Glory Edim
  3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  4. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  5. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  6. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  7. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and the Civil Rights Struggle of the 1950s and 1960s by David Howard-Pitney