It’s happening again. Following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery, there was a wave of racial justice activism all over the world. Infographics, long Facebook posts, pictures of streets overflowing with protesters, and resource lists were probably all over your social media pages. I remember having a conversation about racial justice with my father and we both agreed that yes, this time would be different.
But is it?
If you’re like me, you have probably noticed that while the Black creators, activists, and educators that you follow are still working towards racial justice, the white people that you follow have returned to business-as-usual on their social media pages. Maybe a conversation about race hasn’t come up since June, or maybe a conversation has come up, but it has shifted in a way that makes you uncomfortable. Maybe initiatives that your community was planning have now fallen apart.
That’s the problem with activism: fatigue. And fatigue leads to a lack of sustainability over time. It’s easy to sign petitions, share posts, go to a protest, read a book about anti-racism, or watch a documentary in the first two weeks. The challenging part is keeping that trend going, especially when the “trend” fades within your circles. Suddenly you’re that person who keeps getting “political,” as if the devaluation of Black lives is a mere political issue instead of a human rights violation.
We are all standing at a crossroads right now. One path takes us back to where we were before May 25th, when only multiple recordings of police brutality could spur us into action. The other is a new path, one where racial justice activism becomes our new normal.
I am a rising senior at Emory University and the Vice President of Emory Hillel. For the past couple of months, I, along with several other student leaders from the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Emory have been organizing the Tikkun Olam Racial Justice Initiative. When we first conceived of this idea in June, our goal was to create a lasting initiative to bring about systemic and sustainable change within Jewish life at Georgia colleges. That’s why the first step of this student-led initiative is a fundraiser.
We have selected three Black-led, Atlanta-based beneficiaries: 1) 100 Black Men of Atlanta, 2) SisterLove Inc., and 3) the Solutions Not Punishment Coalition. These three diverse organizations have done phenomenal work for the various Black communities in the Atlanta area, whether it’s by uplifting Black students, providing free health education for Black women, or providing financial support to Black trans folx, respectively. Assisting us in this effort are two philanthropists in the Atlanta area who have agreed to match up to $2500 in donations. In the first week and a half of the fundraiser, we have raised over $2000.
We believe that in addition to expressions of solidarity, we must also offer action-oriented solutions and financial support to ensure that our support as allies to Jewish and non-Jewish Black community members is more than just a statement. If you have been looking to do more for racial justice but haven’t known where to start, please consider donating to the Tikkun Olam Racial Justice Initiative. Your generous financial support will enable these three organizations to continue the great work that they are doing in our community. The fundraiser ends on September 19th.
Donations can be sent via Venmo to @hillelsofgeorgia or mailed to:
Hillels of Georgia
735 Gatewood Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
Questions about the initiative can be directed to: email@example.com
Let’s continue our anti-racism work together. Our Jewish tradition encourages us to fight for justice, and that fight must extend beyond a few weeks or a few months. It must be a lifelong commitment. Join us as we continue this important lifelong work.