#SWAAYthenarrative
7 Min Read
Politics

If you are able to or interested in participating in the current protests happening across the United States, there are many things you can do to make the process safer for yourself and your peers.

Particularly, if you are a white person going into these protests, know that you are there to support and protect Black people and other People of Color who are at a far greater risk than you are while participating. Even if that means forming a human barrier between the police and PoC — yes, that happened. And yes, it worked. But it won't always happen, so be wary of your privilege and wield it wisely if you are a white person attending these protests. Black and PoC community organizers know what they are doing, so remember that as a white person you are there as a guest and an ally. Follow their lead. But first, you have to make sure you're coming prepared.

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez recently posted a helpful resource for protestors, and we've expanded this list based upon her post as well as other sources found primarily via social media. Most mainstream media sources are not sharing enough information to help aid in the current protests. In our efforts to gather effective resources to share with our SWAAY community, we've found that the most helpful content is being readily shared on social media. If you are interested in finding more information, we recommend skipping the fruitless Google search and going straight to community organizers on social media — primarily Instagram and Twitter. Below, you'll find our list of recommendations as well as explanations behind each. Now is the time to stay informed, share information, and stand up for what's right.

What To Wear

  • Goggles — To both protect your eyes from physical and chemical harm.
  • Masks — To restrict the exchange of possibly infected droplets and project again chemical harm.
  • Comfortable, nondescript clothing — To allow for maximum motion, minimal exposure, and a lack of identifiable characteristics. It is also recommended that protestors cover up any significant or easily identifiable tattoos to reduce the risk of identification and targeting.
  • Heat-resistant Gloves — Pandemics don't stop for protests, wearing gloves is important as a method of infection-control, however, heat-resistant gloves are helpful in protests as they won't melt when coming in contact with heated objects due to fire.
  • Emergency Contacts/Allergies Written Down — In case you become injured and incapacitated it is important to write down potential emergency contacts and any allergies you may have — particularly allergies to any medications if you may need medical attention while unable to respond.
  • Hair Ties — Tie your hair back to assure it won't restrict your vision and tuck it away if possible. You want to restrict any possible opportunity for police and other violence-inciters to grab or pull you away.
  • Non-oil-based Sunscreen — You always want to protect your skin from the sun, but in the case of protesting avoid oil-based sunscreen, because oils will lock-in the toxins from tear gas and exacerbate its negative effects.

What To Bring

  • Water Bottles With A Squirt Top — Both to stay hydrated and to use in case of tear gas. The squirt top is specifically important because the added force helps to clean out irritants from gassed ocular cavities.
  • Snacks — Chances are, you're planning to be out there for a few hours at least, and you don't know what might delay you, so keep yourself nourished.
  • Cash/Change — Both in case of emergency, but specifically in case you need to make a quick exit. Public transportation, whenever possible is recommended, but do not use Credit/Debit cards to pay otherwise authorities may be able to track your location and activity.
  • ID — Even if you are only participating in a ticketable offense, if police cannot confirm your identity they have the ability to put you in jail until they can confirm in.
  • First AID Supplies — Having a basic first AID kit could be a useful resource if violence breaks out and immediate medical is difficult to summon.
  • Change of Clothes (in a plastic bag) — If or when the police resort to using tear gas, that gas and its irritants will stick to your clothing, skin, and other orifices. You want a clean pair of clothes to change into and avoid compounding the irritation.
  • Protest Signs — Let your message be heard!

What NOT To Bring

  • Jewelry, Scarves, Or Other Easy-to-grab Clothing — You want to restrict the possibility of being grabbed or pulled. This includes wearing loose-fitted backpacks or side backs that may get caught or grabbed.
  • Contact Lenses — Contacts hold in toxins if the police use tear gas or other chemical dispersion methods.
    • IF you wear contacts and come in contact with tear gas, do NOT attempt to take them off yourself. Wash your eyes out with cold water and find someone with clean (non-gassed) hands who can remove them for you. Throw the contacts away after, there is no amount of Visine that can clean tear gas.
  • Any Illegal Materials — If you are attending a protest you are at a much higher risk of being arrested, so this is not the time to have any illegal materials on your person including weapons, drugs, etc.
  • A Cell Phone With Face/Touch ID — Cell phones can be used for location services and face identification, do not post about your location, do not do anything that may help identify you or the people around you. The safest thing to do is to turn on airplane mode and only use your phone for emergencies or to record and document when possible for others' safety.
    • If you post any photos after the fact, blur out the faces of any and all other protestors to avoid the likelihood of them getting ID'ed, arrested, or having that photo used as evidence against them at a later date.

What To Do

  • Come Prepared — If you think the above list is exhaustive, it really isn't. You never know what might happen, and it's better to be prepared — especially if you're protesting in a larger, more volatile city where the police or other outside instigators have been known to encourage violence.
  • Stick Together — Do not protest alone. Though adhering to social distancing practices is crucial, it may not be safe to go alone. You want to have someone who can check in on you and vice versa.
  • Adhere To Social Distancing Practices Whenever Possible — Keep to your buddies, but attempt to avoid touching and maintain distance whenever and however possible. When it's not possible, keep your mask on and do not touch your face.
  • White People: Know You Are A Guest And An Ally — Support, listen to, and protect the BIPOC around you at all costs, insert yourself between police and BIPOC for their safety whenever possible, be respectful of those around you, and know that you can use your privilege for good.
We recognize that many protests around the country have successfully been quite peaceful, particularly in smaller communities with less weaponized police forces. However, you never know when violence may become an issue, and it is best to be prepared. There have been multiple reports of far-right infiltrators and other white supremacists using these peaceful protests as a means to incite violence, encourage looting/rioting, and damage the reputation of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Additionally, there are multiple, filmed reports of police inciting violence without just cause at these otherwise peaceful protests or damaging property after the fact to make it appear as though protestors are attacking them and their property. These videos are being shared across social media platforms, but (once again) are being largely ignored by mainstream and legacy media platforms.

Please keep all of this in mind when you are going out to protest. Not just for your own safety, but to remain informed and to always remember the truth behind this movement. This isn't one problem that can be solved with one solution. This movement is the culmination of decades of violence, hatred, and abuse towards Black people supported by a system that is effectively designed to punish them and reduce their rights. (Reminder that the American police force as we know it is derived from slave patrols.) It has always been a time for action, but now more than ever it seems that we are reaching a precipice towards change.

Stay informed, stay safe, and never forget that you have a right to protest no matter who is trying to stop you.

3 min read
Lifestyle

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Email armchairpsychologist@swaaymedia.com to get the advice you need!

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Dear Armchair Psychologist,

I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.

-Sadsies

Dear Sadsies,

I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.



I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!



- The Armchair Psychologist

Need more armchair psychologist in your life? Check out the last installment or emailarmchairpsychologist@swaaymedia.com to get some advice of your own!