Standing in Solidarity with Black Lives

From @amillionconvos on Instagram

    We know that America is polarized. We know it is difficult. We are committed to doing everything we can to build a more unified country and to do so, we must first address hate. It’s uncomfortable, and oftentimes, unconscious. In order to humanize one another, we must first address what prevents us from seeing each other as human. The reality of our country’s history is that many non-Black people have been taught not to see Black people as human. This dehumanization is a dangerous, often lethal weapon. We are working to disarm it, and the work begins now. We are here for you. We are here to engage. If you’re wondering why we say “Black Lives Matter” instead of “all lives matter,” please don’t unfollow us or unsubscribe. We want to talk with you. In fact, we want to listen. Email us, send us a DM, message us on Facebook. Let Millions of Conversations be a resource for you. 

Millions is committed to anti-racism and we want to share with you some of the ways that we will address anti-Black racism in the United States. 

    Depending on your social circle, you might have seen calls to unfriend or unfollow your friends who are using their voices to elevate anti-Black content. You have likely also seen content asking you not to do so (if you are not Black). At Millions, we will follow the second option. It’s not because we condone anti-Black messaging. Rather, our core work is to engage and conduct difficult conversations. We do not unfriend or unfollow because we realize that we are a necessary part of that dialogue. We support conversations and believe that they unify. 

In 2018, we conducted research in five different states about Islamophobia. We found that individuals who originally held Islamophobic, or generally anti “other” beliefs changed their opinions after engaging with content that encouraged them to think more critically about Muslim Americans. We appealed to our common values, hard work, family, community, freedom, and honesty, to build that trust in the conversations. Those values are human values. As such, we choose to engage with people who do not hold our same beliefs today and do not support Black Lives Matter. We use our tested methods to build trust. We do not further divide. Our work is to create and circulate positive messaging that humanizes individuals who are viewed as “other” in our society. The onus is not on Black folks to prove that they are human. At Millions, humanity comes first and it is not up for debate. Everything else follows. Our work has not stopped. This post is not simply a reaction to the Black Lives Matter uprisings, rather, it is a proactive plan that aligns with our campaign and our ultimate goal to create a more inclusive, just, and equitable America. 

    We begin by looking within. Our goal at Millions of Conversations is to transcend the divides that perpetuate racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, anti-immigrant rhetoric, dangerous partisanship, and all forms of hate in our country today. In order to heal our country, we must humanize our country. To humanize, we look at ourselves first. Our team regularly participates in training opportunities discussing political violence, hate speech, implicit bias, and polarization in America today. And we recognize that we can do more to look within and understand our own biases. It is uncomfortable, but we commit to sitting with this discomfort and engaging with ourselves. We are more aware now than ever that our internal trainings need a specific and additional focus on debunking racism against Black people and the profound ways that racism permeates American society and each individual mind. We do this internally for our Millions team so that we are constantly learning and reflecting as we navigate the landscape of abolishing hate and oppression.  We invite all of you to join us in this work. 

    We’re expanding our anti-Islamophobia tool kit to include relevant guidance and action as recommended by Black leaders on unpacking anti-Black racism in America. The toolkit’s purpose is to guide you in dismantling your own xenophobia and racism and assist you in conducting productive conversations with individuals in your life with whom you disagree. We have been constructing this toolkit based off of our research findings on otherization from 2018. In it, we will incorporate other sources that more critically investigate forms of racism and xenophobia in the United States, including anti-Blackness. This toolkit will be released in mid-July. Originally intended for use in our University Chapters, we have decided to offer it to all of our supporters along with online training workshops on how to use these resources when engaging in difficult dialogue. We will circulate a sign-up for these workshops as well as the downloadable toolkit itself in our July newsletter. 

    We also invite all of you to engage with us via social media and email. We work hard to curate content that serves as trustworthy information and we want to provide you with the tools to learn and enter uncomfortable conversations. We want to include each and every one of you in a more unified future. We may disagree on many things but if we can find agreement around our humanity, we can create a world that is more together than separate. As we move further into this year, we are confident that we have the tools to depolarize and build a more just and united country. You are part of that. Thank you for all you have done, and please work with us as we all do better.

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