Recently I’ve noticed a lot of people unfriending people on Facebook who don’t agree with them about Ferguson, Eric Garner, and the #blacklivesmatter movement in general. And of course, the counter cry of: please DON’T unfriend these people spewing nonsense. Engage with them. Try to change their minds! Especially if you’re white! Do you expect people of color to have to do ALL the work dismantling the system?

But what about people who are liberal and relatively unprejudiced, who really just don’t know what is going on? Who think that all this outrage over a few police-encounters-gone-bad are reactions to isolated incidents? Often these people are older white folks who are isolated from the black community, or do not have a facebook account where their friends post tons of articles about race and police brutality.

So I’ve put together a brief reading list as resource for you who have family members who need educating about what is going on. Most of the links I’ve posted are from relatively mainstream sources that should be easier for older, non-millennial  folks to digest. The less mainstream articles at least cite their sources well. Obviously these don’t cover everything, but it’s a start. If you find yourself struggling to explain things, hopefully these links will help answer some of the questions your family might have.

As a white ally, my intent is not to speak for anyone else in this movement. If you feel that I’ve overlooked important information, please correct me or post additional links in the comments!

What happened in Ferguson and why is everyone reacting so strongly?

This is a great basic article that explains what happened in Ferguson and some of the national racial disparities that led the situation to its boiling point. It cites and links its sources with mostly mainstream media sources and government statistics: http://www.bustle.com/articles/36096-do-police-shoot-black-men-more-often-statistics-say-yes-absolutely

What do the people in the #blacklivesmatter movement want?

I can’t personally speak for what an entire movement wants, but you can read the demands shared by Ferguson Action and BlackLivesMatter.com here: http://fergusonaction.com/demands/

What are some of the gaps in police oversight?

TLDR: There are lots: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/aug/19/law-enforcement-officers-cleared-more-than-400-tim/?page=all

Are there really so many racial disparities in the U.S?

Systematic and institutional oppression breeds poverty and crime. We can’t solve police violence without also addressing those fundamental issues in minority communities. That’s one of the reasons the Ferguson Action demands are so comprehensive. Is it really that bad? Here is some info from CNN, The Nation, PBS, and the 2013 U.S census.

A brief list of economic inequalities between blacks and whites in the U.S: http://money.cnn.com/2014/08/21/news/economy/black-white-inequality/

Fact list about racial inequalities in public schools: http://www.thenation.com/blog/178958/14-disturbing-stats-about-racial-inequality-american-public-schools#

This is a document summarizing the 2013 U.S census. It’s dense and boring, but if you follow the link in table of contents to Race and Hispanic Origin, you can find a telling take home message—the median annual income for non-hispanic white households is $58,270, and the median annual income for black households is $34,598. That’s 59% of median white income: http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/demo/p60-249.pdf

A description and statistics about the school to prison pipeline:http://www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/tsr/education-under-arrest/school-to-prison-pipeline-fact-sheet/

What is white privilege?

All the kids are talking about it these days. But what is it, exactly? This comic does a good job of explaining it succinctly, though it doesn’t mince its words. The author received online harassment and death threats after posting it: http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/09/white-privilege-explained/