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I want to share this video, "Don't Be A Bystander: 6 Tips for Responding to Racist Attacks," by Project NIA and the Barnard Center for Research on Women, narrated by Aaryn Lang—who was interviewed about the process by Black Youth Project. [Hat tip to @prisonculture.] It's such a great guide for how to intervene in ways that center the safety of the person being targeted and the person intervening, with an emphasis on consent. I value this so, so much.
Aaryn Lang, a young, thin, Black woman, appears onscreen. Throughout the video, sometimes she is onscreen, talking directly to camera; other times, she speaks in voiceover, over relevant photographs.
Text onscreen: Don't Be A Bystander: 6 Tips for Responding to Racist Attacks.
LANG: The United States has a long history of violence against people of color, disabled people, Muslims, immigrants, and LGBTQ people. In our current political moment, white supremacists and white nationalists have been emboldened—and, as a result, public attacks are on the rise. Many people aren't sure what to do if they witness a racist or transphobic attack. Here are some ideas.
Text onscreen: 1. Be more than a bystander.
LANG: It might be tempting to look away out of fear, or because you aren't sure what to do. But not getting involved communicates approval and leaves the victim high and dry. If you can, talk with the victim. This is about supporting them: Look them in the eye; check in with them. Try not to escalate or provoke the perpetrator.
An illustration shows a Muslim woman being berated on public transportation by a white man, and a white woman sits down beside the Muslim woman and begins chatting to her about the weather, which frustrates the white man, who walks away.
LANG: Simply sitting or standing next to someone is better than nothing at all. It's difficult to witness any kind of violence, so try to breathe—and stay present.
Text onscreen: 2. Document the incident.
LANG: Many assume others will document an incident going on. If it's safe to do so, and the victim doesn't object, film or record an incident. This helps to keep track of the rise of incidents like this, and it also ensures that the victims' versions of events can be confirmed.
Text onscreen: 3. Support the victim by sticking around.
LANG: Check in with the victim. Ask them what they need. Get their consent and offer concrete ways to support them. Get them water. Help them get composed. Help them call a friend, or even get to a safer place.
Text onscreen: 4. Avoid the police.
LANG: Armed police presence often escalates rather than reduces the risk of violence in a situation. Because police have been trained to see people of color, gender-nonconforming folks, and Muslims as criminals, they often treat victims as perpetrators of violence. So, if the victim hasn't asked you to call the police, DO NOT. I repeat: DO NOT call the police.
Text onscreen: 5. Call out the everyday culture of white supremacy.
LANG: The culture of white supremacy and anti-Blackness is perpetuated by our media, political systems, and social media. You can contribute to making these attitudes unacceptable by challenging white supremacy even when you're not in a crisis. If you're white yourself, talk to your white family and friends about anti-Blackness and white supremacy. Do it every day, especially when you're in an all-white space. By doing this, you confront the culture without putting anyone else in danger of an immediate backlash.
Text onscreen: 6. Organize and protest for justice.
LANG: Now is the time for all of us who believe in justice to come together. It doesn't have to look one way. You can canvass, you can phone bank, you can write letters, or you can even create art for the movement. Taking it to the streets is always nice, but, if you don't have time for that, you could always support the marginalized populations, who are on the frontlines of this work, financially. White supremacy and anti-Blackness affects all of us—and fighting against it affirms all of our humanity.