Step-by-step: Understand the context of Black Lives Matter following incidents of police violence.

I’ve compiled this list of commentary and news from what I see as the most hard-hitting voices and perspectives from a long and heavy day of processing the events from the last three days.

My suggestion through this is to observe your reactions and face them, let them pulse through you. Dedicate what time you have to really be there, with these people and do more research if you need to.

I’ll take you through what happened, responses from those connected to the events, Black Lives Matter story-telling and spoken word, where to go from here, how to support as a person with privilege, and final thoughts from some powerful voices of our time:

What happened in the last 72 hours: Shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Falcon Heights, Minnesota; Dallas, Texas. NYTimes’ What We Know contains important links to videos and more detailed news stories.

  • In Minnesota and Louisiana, the events involved police brutality that ended in the death of two black men, Philando Castile and Alton B. Sterling. Both events were caught on camera.
  • In Dallas, during a peaceful demonstration in response to the recent shootings, policemen were gunned down by a sniper. Four were killed.


African American female police officer responds with outrage to the news of the fatal shooting in Louisiana by a police officer. Other videos start around 2:55 but I believe her entire video is resounding and powerful:

This next video (go to link) expresses the calls of the community and the #blacklivesmatter movement and anguish and emotion in Minnesota. The community is reeling in pain and makes me ask how can we expect any type of positive change or progress from an entire population when this is the everyday experience of a significant percentage of the population. It’s real and it’s consuming. If you don’t have time for everything, watch this. All of it:

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 2.23.15 PM

“I’m sick and tired of Minnesota being ranked at the top for all of these quality of life issues that affect white people – for the appearance of the promise land, which hasn’t been the promise land for us.” ~Past president of the St. Paul NAACP and retired fireman at NAACP Press Conference outside governor’s mansion, Minnesota.

Relevant expressions and story-telling:

Story Corps animation (go to link) and their Facebook intro. Especially valuable to watch if you’ve chosen not to watch the live videos of the shootings:

In our animation "Traffic Stop," Alex Landau shared his story of a 2009 account with police in Denver that went wrong.

As we follow the events in the death of ‪#‎AltonSterling‬, we bring you this story today and ask you pay attention to what's happening as it has happened before.

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
- Maya AngelouScreen Shot 2016-07-08 at 1.58.30 PM

“Stop telling us to bite our tongues when we cannot guarantee our siblings’ safe passage to the corner store.” ~“An Overreaction,” written and performed by Sarah O’Neal. :

Where to go from here:

I recommend searching for reading to completely understand the Black Lives Matter movement and white privilege, as well as reading the entire articles from which I’ve pulled these excerpts.

Excerpts from “This is what white people can do to support #blacklivesmatter” by Sally Kohn in The Washington Post:

“Safe spaces are illusions.”

Racism is an illness that afflicts each and every one of us. It steals our humanity, our capacity for empathy, the righteous indignation that is our birthright. I don’t believe in allies; I believe in the decolonizing power of solidarity. White people ought to challenge themselves to engage in more spaces of risk and difference. ~Umi Selah, mission director of the Dream Defenders
“Stop acting like black people are stupid.”

We are politically savvy. And black women especially have a higher voter turnout than anyone else. No candidate can win without black women, yet a bunch of black women stood up and expressed their feelings on an issue that is literally killing our people and white progressives are acting like they were a bunch of uppity Negroes who didn’t know their place… These are young people who are learning as they go. Every movement has growing pains...White allies need to give these young people space to grow, space to fail, space to learn. And they need to amplify their voices. ~Imani Gandy, senior legal analyst for RH Reality Check and co-host of This Week in Blackness Prime

Excerpt from “Only white people can save themselves from racism and white supremacism”, by Baynard Woods in The Washington Post:

So I and every other white South Carolinian who has let the racist jokes go unchecked, who has looked the other way at some sanctioned act of bigotry, who has not taken the time and effort to listen to what black people have to say about their experience, is, in some sense, responsible for Dylann Roof — even as he remains responsible for his own actions.

Additionally, a Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism , full of videos, illustrations, and short readings to grow consciousness on this topic, and get involved. I believe the anecdote in the intro puts this long history into perspective.

Finally, and equally as valuable, the voices and narratives of the oppressed matter! I recommend discovering these voices through a medium that speaks to you (books, videos, art). Huffington Post and Black Lives Matter did a series in February 2016 called “Black Future Month” which includes narratives and incredible artwork:

Alyssa Etoile, “The Education of Black Self Love” Twitter: @alyssaetoile Instagram: @alyssa_etoile





Alixa Garcia, “Inextricable”→
Instagram: @climbingpoetree
Twitter: @climbingpoetree

"Trauma from structural oppression impacts every aspect of our lives and beings — our communities, our relationships, our bodies, our spirits, and our psyches. My inability to dream, to image worlds outside of the fucked up one in which we inhabit, and the nightmares I experienced were symptoms of the psychic terrorism of anti-black violence. Each day I was passively internalizing images of the Black death. My Facebook timeline functioned as an obituary, a litany of names and pictures and tributes to Black gender non-conforming folks, women, girls and men shot in the back by police and beaten in classrooms." ~Kiyan Williams, "Why Black People Must Hold on to Our Dreams", Huffington Post

Final thoughts: I truly hope that this compilation does not leave you feeling helpless or hopeless. After reading everything, I feel motivated to be a voice, to share what I know and learn what I don’t. To contribute positively and not passively. I am human, a maker of mistakes, a creature of habit. My job is to stay open and reach out or do research to keep me in check. To regularly shake up my own world, which is necessary to create real restructuring. These events unfortunately had to be the catalyst this time.

My wish:
May we take ownership and not point fingers. 
May we seek the whole truth and not what's comfortable. 
May we demand voices and not silence. 
May we be one and not the "other". 
May we hold up the heroes and not make excuses. 
May we dismantle the system and not the people.

Final words for thought from Jon Stewart, Frida Kahlo, and Rupi Kaur. The last poem, Kaur has posted again and again in response to bombings and attack on innocent people across the world. It resonates in this situation as well:


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