There has been a lot of community-wide frustration about the situation in Ferguson and a recently released video of possible police brutality in St. Paul when a young African American man was tased while trying to pick up his children from daycare. A friend of mine made a great suggestion that people stop being frustrated and do something about it, so here are 12 suggestions for African Americans and allies that would like to do something to end the huge racial disparities that we have in Minnesota and get rid of a culture of police brutality against African Americans:
1) Help close the huge economic disparities we have in Minnesota by supporting African American owned businesses. The website Tuloko is a searchable database with reviews of local African American businesses.
2) Help young African American men who have been in or are at-risk of being a part of the criminal justice system by buying your coffee from Brotherhood Inc. Take it a step further by encouraging your business to hire Brotherhood, Inc. as their coffee vendor.
3) Send a gift to the African American Leadership Forum. AALF works to create a just and healthy Minnesota that works equally well for everyone, regardless of race.
4) Donate school supplies to Harvest Prep. Harvest has completely closed the educational opportunity gap.
5) Write a letter to your mayor and police chief requesting body cams. A recent op ed by the Denver Chief of Police outlines why body cams are a useful tool for law enforcement.
7) Think about how diverse your circle of friends is and expand your network. A recent study found that 75% of whites do not have a single nonwhite friend and that percentage is increasing.
9) Order gifts or office treats at Cookie Cart. Cookie Cart provides job training for young people in North Minneapolis
11) Speaking of press coverage, write your local newspaper when you see inappropriate reporting about the African American community. A very clear recent example is the difference in coverage of Chris Lollie's arrest. Especially the photos that media outlets decided to use. Compare the Pioneer Press photo and the Inquisitr photo.
12) If you are White, have a conversation with another White person about Ferguson. It is critical that this is just not a conversation happening in the Black community. Here is an article about why that is important.
This is just a top of mind list, so please add your own ideas in the comments section. Also add links to ideas for other communities besides Minnesota. I have created this list in the spirit of solution finding and not finger pointing or race baiting so I ask that you do the same with your suggestions. As the every thoughtful Dr. Seuss said "unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."