Leisha Evans, mother and activist, in Baton Rouge

It’s not that I don’t give a damn, or that I’ve had nothing to say following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. If you’ve seen my Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, I’ve stated how I’ve felt as best I could without falling into the pit of narcissistic grief that I’ve seen all over the interwebs. Self aggrandizement is just not my style.

The past week has been traumatizing, frightening, and exhausting. I cried as a mother, and friend, both scared for the livelihoods of so many brothers that I love, and for my own livelihood, which seems to be at stake with every breath I take. But as a woman of action, I didn’t want my acknowledgement to be reduced to a series of hashtags, retweets and emojis. Too many times educated professional Black folks get lost in rhetoric, talking ad nauseum about the injustice of it all while lounging in luxury in their gentrified apartments before happy hour, adding little to the conversation except posting or liking stylish, yet superficial social media posts. I can’t be that. I have a responsibility as a Black woman, a mother, a woman of intellect, to take real action so that these horrifying incidents don’t become just another day in the life of.

Gathering with other Black mothers, and people interested in protecting and growing our communities, I gained so much knowledge on what I can do to give self care and contribute to healing my community. Here are several actionable points we can all do:

Allow yourself to grieve and practice self care.

Let non-people of color know that you are not responsible for making them feel comfortable around you

And also let them know that you are not responsible for teaching them about racism. They can learn that on their own

Put your money back into the community. Buy from businesses owned by people of color. The WhereU App lists these business that are near you. And Solange just posted a list of Black-owned banks on her website

Gather people from your community to grieve, get to know one another, and discuss proactive ways of developing stronger law enforcement and community relations. Anybody can do this. So many times young people and professionals get so ‘busy’ that they spend no time meeting their neighbors or finding out what is developing in their own neighborhoods. But they damn sure know what’s poppin’ on Instagram, or who went to the hottest concert last night, or can share their latest foreign retreat. Please, people. Call your local town hall, and keep calling until they sit down with you. Meet with the police and bring actionable points to the meeting, including fears coming from both sides and how we can all better manage them.

Ask your local government for accountability. Newark, NJ has recently developed a Civilian Review Board, a sort of Yelp for police, giving a rundown of issues between residents and the police. Constant notation and accountability is a key to transparency and progress.

On an ending note, a friend of mine posted this poem, and I think it’s apt for all of us who ‘made it’ and somehow believe that is enough.

They picked Akanni up one morning
Beat him soft like clay
And stuffed him down the belly
Of a waiting jeep.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
They came one night
Booted the whole house awake
And dragged Danladi out,
Then off to a lengthy absence.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
Chinwe went to work one day
Only to find her job was gone:
No query, no warning, no probe –
Just one neat sack for a stainless record.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
And then one evening
As I sat down to eat my yam
A knock on the door froze my hungry hand.
The jeep was waiting on my bewildered lawn
Waiting, waiting in its usual silence.
– Niyi Osundare