Published June 8, 2020

Struggling to contribute to BLM

This post is a bit different than what I usually write. I have been pondering for some time the idea of writing down more of my thoughts, writing about things outside of the realms of design, technology, and photography. Previously, it never felt right. A little voice in my head was telling me to “stay in your lane.” Now, however, it feels wrong not to write.

I’m a creator. My life revolves around making things, whether at work, at home, or on this blog. Recently, protests have erupted all over the United States and the world in response to the murder of George Floyd and so many Black citizens at the hands of Police who supposedly pledged to protect them. As the world cries out and resists, I feel a deep need to do something about it. I am hard-wired to try to solve problems, and my mind treated this no differently.

For the last few weeks, I was working on a little side project that I planned on releasing the previous weekend. As the protests intensified, I decided that now was definitely not the right time to launch something so trivial. I thought that I could instead adapt that project to be Black Lives Matter related.

As I reflected on the thought, I started realizing that I was falling into a trap. I had a hammer and assumed that this “problem” was just another nail. I wanted to use design to make a difference, but maybe that is the wrong tool for the job, or perhaps I’m the wrong person to wield that tool.

Kurt Vonnegut famously had a strong opinion about using art in protests and revolutions:

“During the Vietnam War, every respectable artist in this country was against the war. It was like a laser beam. We were all aimed in the same direction. The power of this weapon turns out to be that of a custard pie dropped from a stepladder six feet high.”

I don’t want to be baking any custard pies. So what should I be doing? As I have struggled to understand how to help, I, fortunately, stumbled on Black voices that aren’t filtered through news outlets and stripped of their true meaning. I found a tremendously well-researched thread about the history of violence against Black people in the US, a list of Black-owned businesses, and a list of Black-owned restaurants in the Bay Area. I saw the stories from the front lines of the protests, and I realized that I don’t need to make this more complicated than it already is.

The resistance has been happening for hundreds of years, and others have already spent a long time thinking about this problem. I’ve accepted that there’s nothing wrong with being just another human being in this resistance and letting others guide me.

So I’m volunteering my money by donating to BLM related causes and I am finding ways I can volunteer my time. If I find a way to put my unique talents to use, I will, but until then, I am content with contributing to this resistance in the most basic ways and educating myself on everything I don’t know.

Here is a link to some resources if you haven’t yet taken part.


Thanks to Q for reading drafts of this.

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