Living abroad comes with a mixed bag of benefits and as well as it own pains. The distance is usually the biggest drawback, bringing long and costly flights to get back to your home. During the past weeks of protests over the killing of George Floyd (or Breonna Taylor, or Ahmaud Arbery, or of too many others), that distance has never felt further. Sometimes the distance makes it harder to take action, and easier to explain away when you don’t. It’s easy to say: “That’s happening in America”, or to say “I’d protest if I was there, but there’s nothing organized here,” instead of finding another way.
But this is no longer acceptable. Racism is a systemic issue in America, and also in so many other countries around the world. Just because there may not be weeks-long protests outside your house, doesn’t mean that people aren't taking actions in your adopted homeland. As conscious citizens of America and the world, it is incumbent on all of us to make a change. There’s no time to wait for someone else to fix things back home. It’s our time to take action.
Action can take many forms. One important step is education—teaching yourself, friends and family members about racial injustice. Below is a list of resources and things that you can do to help:
- Read Books about Anti-Racism: Here is a link to an Instagram post that shows a list of great books discussing race
- Watch Movies to Educate Yourself: Check out this list of movies if film is more your thing.
- Have the Hard Conversations with family and friends. Have those uncomfortable discussions with your uncle or your high school friend. Talk about what you learned or have seen. The systemic change we need in America comes from not only changing the system, but also from changing the people in it. People are at the core of America, and the more who are actively anti-racist, the better the country is as a whole.
- Virtual Volunteering or Protesting: Maybe you’re in a country where protests aren’t being organized, or are illegal. Maybe you’re like me, and are around those that at a higher risk for coronavirus, and you can’t safely protest. In our digital age, there’s still so much more you can do. Sign petitions, contact your elected officials, donate—all are important, and can be done whether you’re in New York or New Delhi. A great compilation of resources can be found at carrd.co. Innovative activists have also created and compiled YouTube videos that have pledged to donate all advertising revenue to the Black Lives Matter movement. Turn off any ad blockers and let a few videos play to donate automatically.
- Don’t Lose Focus: Most importantly, beyond education and taking action, don’t lose focus. For some, living far away can make these issues feel more distant. Watching a protest on a screen doesn’t give the same impact as standing there in the streets. But don’t let this physical barrier dampen the urgency of the moment. Don’t let this be just another movement, just another hashtag or media cycle. Remember how you felt in this moment, and remember that the injustice doesn’t go away just because you’re not seeing it on your social media feed every night. Demand change now, and continue to do so next month, next election, and beyond.
A lot of people have said that this movement feels different, and I truly hope they’re right. For too long America has been “for some people, by the same people.” It’s time that there is an America for everyone.