There’s been a lot of anger and frustration over the last couple of weeks in the US following the death of another unarmed black man by the police force. It’s led to protests in cities all over the world as people stand in solidarity under the Black Lives Matter movement. For many, this has been an eye-opening event that’s made you think twice about life and systemic racism. I think it’s an important part of personal development to understand different perspectives. If you can empathize with people and see what they’re going through, it can make you an ally to their cause and a better person. 

One of the biggest question most people have regarding this situation is, what can I do to educate myself? How can you learn about systemic racism and what it’s like being a black person growing up in the US? As it happens, there are plenty of avenues you can go down, all of which are very worthwhile. 

Read up on US history

The past is a great place to start. It’s very worthwhile to read up on US history and understand how the country was founded and the path it took to come to modern times. There are some great AP US history books that provide you with lots of knowledge on key topics throughout history. Looking through academic books is beneficial for two reasons. One, it helps you learn more about the history of the country. Two, it opens your eyes to incidents or key things that are often left out of the US curriculum. This is why the second point is even more important:

Watch documentaries

Documentaries are an excellent way to gain a deeper understanding of events. They are usually independent, meaning they’re not bound by any curriculum and don’t have to teach you certain things. Instead, they serve as a fantastic tool to fill in the blanks left by history textbooks. They shine a light on topics that are never discussed in schools. A great example of this is The 13th documentary, which looks at the over-policing of the black community throughout history. It opens your eyes to one of the biggest causes of racial tension in the country. You can actually watch this for free, so I’ll link the YouTube video below. Other documentaries are also available, so watch them when you have time. 

Get other perspectives

Perhaps the biggest problem is that white people and people who aren’t black have no idea what it’s like to be black. Therefore, it’s almost impossible to see what they go through. The best way to rectify this is to get other people’s perspectives. Talk to your black friends, or read books by black authors that talk about this topic. You’ll soon be able to see why this movement is taking place and why black lives really do matter. 

Being aware of societal issues is a vital part of personal development and growth as a human being. You’ll definitely notice a change in yourself and the way you think when you educate yourself on this movement. It’s the bare minimum you can do to support a cause that does not ask for much – just equal treatment of black people in America and across the world. 

By Erica Buteau

Change Agent. Daydream Believer. Maker. Creative. Likes love, peace and Jeeping. Dislikes winter, paper cuts and war. She/Her/Hers.

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