Iowa City is not making this whole “journalism” thing easy for us. It’s like every time we come out with a new issue, we have two weeks’ worth of crazy to cover. The whole “murder hornets” thing came, went and was completely forgotten while Little Village was on a print hiatus. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that many Iowa City residents are protesting the widespread police brutality against black Americans. If you didn’t know that, welcome back to the world! (If you’re wondering why no one will shake hands with you, boy, do I have news for you.) Even those of us who have been living in above-ground homes may want to learn more about what’s going on and what, if anything, they should be doing about it. Without further ado, I present my guide to the current protests for clueless white people. (POC can kick your feet up and sit this column out, or clip it to keep in your back pocket so you can hand it out instead of having That Conversation again.)
Chill out. If you have white privilege and you’re not particularly politically inclined, like a lot of people I know, you might view these protests primarily as an inconvenience. It’s understandable, because, well, they are. Disrupting the status quo is kind of the point. So, if you’re irritated because you fell asleep last night to the sound of wailing sirens, walked outside this morning to find that your apartment building had been tagged to within an inch of its life and took an extra five minutes to get to work because some streets were blocked off, rather than masklessly complaining about it to the barista at Starbucks, take a minute to think about why it’s happening. Hint: hundreds of years of racial discrimination and violence towards black people.
Learn more. For all you rock-dwellers out there who don’t seem to have the first clue about what’s going on, my advice would be to try the internet. Open any web browser and become engulfed in a tsunami of current events-related information. If you’re at a loss for where to start, just Google any of the slogans spray-painted on the ground outside the police station. Avoid Breitbart and your uncle’s Facebook page and you should be fine.
Do something. If your little sojourn into Google left you outraged and ready for action, congratulations: You used the internet good. Steal a cardboard box out of your neighbor’s recycling bin and make yourself a sign! Don’t forget to bring lots of water, and remember: no face, no case, so wear a mask! (Plus, there’s that whole pandemic thing.) Protest isn’t for everyone, and it might not be for you, especially if you have health issues. That’s OK; you can call our representatives, donate to civil rights organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and ACLU, and have conversations with your friends and family about institutional racism. Anything is better than the nothing you’re doing right now.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 283.