To my young non-white and other intersectionally-identified folks: never forget who the enemy is. Because there is a lot of noise around you, there is a lot of noise that will come at you, and it’s very easy to get caught up in all of the politics and all of the back and forth and everything else. But don’t let that distract you from seeing who the actual enemy is. The enemy is the people that are killing us, the enemy is the people that create these laws, that empower these people, the enemy is the system itself. The enemy is not each other, and if we can always function from that basis . . . no matter where you are in your activist journey, you need to carry that with you. And if we can function from that basis then we can actually get the change we’ve been demanding for generations.
If you’re new to the movement, I would also try to find someone with experience even if you don’t agree with them. I don’t agree with the majority of the people who have been doing this work for a long time, we’ll disagree on something or another, but at the end of the day, they have valuable feedback and advice. We can tell you that you should not use milk or baking soda in tear gas situations because milk can cause infections and baking soda can irritate your eyes more than help. So you should just use water and lots and lots of water. We can tell you if you are preparing for a protest, bring a hat, bring warm gear, try to find a safe house in the area, and if you can get swim goggles and an N95 mask or some other mask or something to cover your face. We can tell you all these things and help prepare you for the situations, but we can also help you with the advocacy work, which is the real movement building work, changing policy, changing political leadership, changing the actual systems, so that we don’t have to protest anymore, and that next step where we really build that movement and expand it out as well as define it.
As a white person, speaking to other white people entering the movement:
It is important that we do not take up space that is meant for POC. It is important that we do more listening than leading, and it is important that we believe black and brown voices. If you cannot do those things, do not enter this movement.
I would also like to say our governor is a racist and that is without doubt. We have racists in our police system, we have racists in our fire fighters, with have racists in party leadership. We have racists in every position of power that I can think of in Omaha. If the Democratic party truly wants to make change, then they need to do all of those things that I just told the activists they need to do.