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8 Specific Actions We can Take

Hi Friends:

An acquaintance confessed this week to feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the racism problem in the US, and the issues we face here in Canada.  He felt paralyzed with rage and powerlessness.

I confessed that I have those moments of paralysis too. 

We decided that taking specific actions is one way to break the paralysis.  

I’ve also been taking inspiration from your own replies here, from the articles I’m reading, and from my two daughters.

With the above in mind, I compiled a list of actions, most of which cost nothing:

1. Reach out. 

Start with friends and neighbours. Share. Listen. Learn. Let the other person know you’re concerned.  

I cannot count the number of times I stereotyped certain White neighbours and acquaintances, thinking they would find the topic of racism too difficult to discuss.  But by asking the first question and listening to them, I was reminded every time that I don’t have a monopoly on caring about these issues.

And yes, I even shared my Mother’s Day post with some trepidation, and was relieved at the support from my blogging community. Thank you.

So talk to people, especially Black people, if you’re not Black. You might even ask: “How do you think I can help? I want to do something to make a difference.”

2. While you’re at it, don’t assume that liberals and socialists are the only ones furious at the murders of Black individuals. 

Human beings are complex. One of my friends is White, conservative, evangelical and pro-life. She points out that “you can’t be pro-life yet support the wanton killing of Black citizens”. 

3. Speak up when you see a wrong.

Silence is not an option, says Allen at New Hampshire Garden Solutions.  And small, everyday actions matter. “We don’t stand at a microphone on television. We speak across the lunch table at work, or in whatever other social situations we find ourselves in, but we do speak. Staying silent is simply not an option.”

Jane Fritz, in her very insightful blog post, says the things we don’t do can be unintentionally damaging: “The bottom line is that one person’s ‘harmless fun’ is someone else’s lifetime of hurt, exclusion, fear, and self-loathing.”

4. Write something.

Several bloggers decided in recent days to directly address the issue of the murders of Black citizens. Jane Fritz, Lisa at arlingwords and CandidKay are just three. What would happen if more bloggers decided to do the same?

Blogger Chris wanted to do something but hardly knew where to start. His wife kept saying “You could write something”, until he heard her and did  this blog post.

5. Share articles with useful ideas and practical suggestions.

It was Murtagh’s Meadow who sent me the link to Chris’ post. And Wendy McDonald, Writing to Freedom and others have done similar.

Another friend sent me a link to this very clear and powerful video by Emmanuel Acho on Twitter:


6. Support already-established groups working to reduce barriers for Black people.

We don’t have to recreate the wheel. Laurie Graves did two things: she wrote a post, then she acted to support The Poor People’s Campaign (https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/) founded by Reverend William Barber.

My younger daughter immediately donated to Black Lives Matter, my older daughter to an organization providing bail money and legal defense to those arrested. This is important. Years ago, I learned that young Black men here in Canada are more likely to plead guilty to a crime even if innocent because they know their families can’t afford bail or legal defense. It may be the same in the US and the UK, for example.

7. Support Black businesses in your area or online.

My younger daughter shops online for baby clothes and other items during the pandemic. On learning that Black communities and businesses are disproportionately affected by COVID, she started making a deliberate effort to find and shop at Black-owned businesses or brands in Canada and the US.

8. Vote your beliefs.

If equal rights are one of the things you truly want to see, look for the candidates who include it in their platforms and who are prepared to fight for it.

My best,


Cynthia Reyes is the author of Myrtle the Purple Turtle, the children’s illustrated book that teaches inclusion, friendship and kindness.


46 thoughts on “8 Specific Actions We can Take”

  1. First of all, many thanks for including me and my blog here. What an honor! In my email in-box, I have marked the link to this post as important so that I can click on all the links you provided that I haven’t already read. (Not surprisingly, there is an overlap.) Allen is right, silence is not an option. I would add to this: Doing nothing is no longer an option. What we do will depend on who we are and what our inclinations are as well as how much time, money, and energy we have. But we can all give something. Now let’s do it!

  2. It’s an honor for my blog to be listed in such good company, Cynthia. Thank you! And thank you for the additional suggestions on what to do. I know so many of us feel powerless in the face of what we see, but a lot of micro-actions amid the macro add up to big change.

  3. Thanks, Cynthia. All such good ideas and I read the links too. I am starting small. I am talking to everyone I meet. Why don’t we just start by talking to each other. Harder than you think especially in this pandemic but I try to grasp every opportunity to include just talking about the evil called racism.

  4. Thanks for this post Cynthia. I have not been able to read many posts coming out on this subject – or out of America at all. I have been so enraged at white America for letting this go on. Always the talk about how awful it is – yet the man who encouraged it all is still in the White House. When will the talking stop and action begin? When will this global empowering of white supremacy be called to a halt? How long will we turn a blind eye to the wilful dissolution of humanity just because of their colour? How many people have to be murdered in the bright light of day and in clear disregard for the law by the very people who are paid to upload the law? How is this even able to happen? America is broken. Their constitution which they so revere was always broken. Made by white men to enable white mens power. I am a woman, so I know about men’s rights. I am not black, so I am priviliged – as I read recently I ride with the wind at my back. It’s a metaphor that makes complete sense to me. Have you heard it? I apologise for my rant – I am simply impotently angry! I really just wanted to let you know I had come by.

  5. Thanks, Cynthia, for putting this thoughtful list together. I do think talking with other people helps and taking some sort of action is always helpful too. And thanks for including me in this good company!

    1. As Laurie Graves, notes, doing nothing is not an option. We may feel tired sometimes, but we can’t let this issue go, or it will keep coming back, bigger and bigger.

  6. I’m mind-boggled over what’s happening in America at the moment. My problem is that I’m completely exhausted from the Covid-19 pandemic and all that surrounds it, and the illness I had at the end of last year. I’m just about keeping going. So there won’t (I don’t think) be any posts from me about this, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care. Hugs to you.

  7. Thank you. I will keep this list by me. I do attempt several of these suggestions, but not strongly enough. I will work on it, because we must be more proactive in this battle. I also fear to be presumptuous – so in two of my novels I had a mixed race character in one and a black British Londoner in the other. They came quite naturally into the story, but afterwards I worried that one in each seems like a token gesture. A long ago attempt at a novel with one white and one black protagonist is still in the no-hope drawer. I will look for black businesses, something I had not thought about.

    1. Hilary, I know your heart is in the right place, as is mine. We have to more regularly (and rigorously) act on our intentions. Let’s keep each other honest.

  8. I’m working with another faculty member on a social justice course for our college’s general education curriculum. We hope it will help in some small way.

  9. As Barack Obama said in his latest email newsletter from the Obama Foundation, the real hope for change lies with the young. Here is an excerpt from that email.

    “Part of what’s made me hopeful in these days, despite it all, is the fact that so many young people have been galvanized and motivated and mobilized. So much of the progress that we’ve made in our society has been because of young people. Dr. King was a young man when he first got involved. Malcolm X was a young man. Dolores Huerta was a young woman. The leaders of the feminist movement were young people. Leaders of union movements were young people. The movement to make sure that members of the LGBTQ community finally had a voice and were represented were young people. And the leaders of the gun violence and environmental movements in this country are young people. “

  10. Thank you and please accept all my empathy. It’s like all the dumb stuff we have to think about as women to keep safe only times about one billion. The hypocrisy of what is happening in the US right now astounds me.

  11. Thanks for this list Cynthia, which is a really useful thing to share. I wouldn’t have considered donations, for example, but I will now look at some UK organisations I can donate to, while considering whether I can add anything to this by writing…

  12. Thank you, dear Cynthia, for the mention. It breaks my heart to think of an innocent young man pleading guilty because he doesn’t want to burden his family–such love. It’s time for more love to be demonstrated towards him and his community. Your post has given me the extra push I needed to finish editing a podcast and blog post I have been working on. It’s a subtle dipping into this topic. But at least it’s not silence.
    Blessings my brave and beautiful friend ~ Wendy Mac

  13. I am slow to read your post, Cynthia, but for reasons unrelated to the issues which you address. I am very glad to read it now. Thank you for this inclusive list of suggestions. They are so accessible; there is something here that each and every one of us can do and if everybody did something, what an impact that might have…

    1. Thank you for saying so, Sandra. I am also observing a group of N. American young women who are helping people to create new habits against racism. Interesting initiative.

      1. How important it is that we acknowledge the positive steps people are taking. I hope the group you are observing develops and makes a difference 😊

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