How to Safely and Effectively Support Black Lives Matter and Racial Justice

We are at a historic moment in time. The health inequalities revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the senseless murder of Black people by police officers have made us all painfully aware of the systemic racism that has existed in our nation for more than 400 years. And now we are at a crossroads: we can either band together to change minds and improve our public institutions so they work better for all of us, or sit on the sidelines, watch, and do nothing.

At AltaMed, we are committed to health equity, advocacy, activism, and, most of all, equality. If you want to make a difference but don’t know where or how to start, we’ve put together a simple guide to help.

A Note About Racial Injustice

Black Lives Matter Graffiti

You’ve heard the term #BlackLivesMatter, and you’ve probably heard #AllLivesMatter – and you may wonder how they are different, or why there is such uproar about the second phrase.

By supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, you are not saying Black lives are more important or that all lives don’t have value. Black Lives Matter is about recognizing the long-term, ingrained racism that Black Americans face, and committing to change it.

For Black people in America, racism shapes almost every aspect of their lives, and the very real fear of being murdered because of the color of their skin controls how they must live in the society around them. Black people are being jailed, killed, and beaten by police at higher rates than any other ethnicity, and officers are rarely prosecuted. Through our nation’s short history, there have been laws that have made it impossible for Black Americans to own property, live in certain areas, and gain entrance to schools and hospitals; as well as policies that have made it legal to oppress or even brutalize them.

These are just some of the reasons why we must state firmly that Black Lives Matter. We know that systemic racism affects many of those we serve. However, at this moment, the national focus is on saving Black lives so we can continue to fight for all denied their human rights.

How You Can Lift the Black Community

Senior Smiling

There are many ways to get involved that don’t require you to take to the streets. In fact, there are little things you can do on a regular, if not daily, basis to make a difference.

  • Vote. If you can, vote in EVERY election, even the ones that seem small: local elections often determine how, or if, systemic reform happens. This not only helps Black lives but also other marginalized, minority communities. Do your homework and vote for candidates that support equality and racial justice.
  • Volunteer with AltaMed. Around the year, we have “get out the vote” events where you can motivate people in our community to participate. If you don’t already, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn about these opportunities.
  • Shop at Black-owned businesses. Against all odds, many Black-owned restaurants and businesses throughout LA and Orange County have thrived. Your ongoing support is more important than ever.
  • Educate yourself. Sometimes people hold beliefs that they don’t even realize are racist. Exposing yourself to new ideas and voices can help. Start following some of these Black voices on Twitter and Instagram, and listen with intention:
  • Support protestors. If you can’t safely attend a protest or walk in a march, you can assemble kits with water bottles, masks, and snacks, and send them to local protest organizations, volunteer to make signs, or donate funds to support their efforts.
  • Have tough conversations about racist beliefs and behavior. If you’ve heard your friends and family saying “all lives matter” or making other casually racist remarks, speak up in a productive, non-confrontational way that won't embarrass them. Letting racist remarks go unchallenged, even if the person making them claims they mean no harm, normalizes racism. Change may not happen immediately, but it’s vital that you have these conversations.
  • Donate or fundraise. Find a trustworthy organization and either donate your own money or have a social media fundraiser. No amount is too small. Consider donating to:

If You Decide to Protest, Do It Safely

Raised Fists

Demonstrations let you show your support and show our civic leaders how many people care about an issue. Even in the best of times, all protests involve some risk, including injury or arrest. If you are immunocompromised, disabled, have a serious health condition, or just feel sick, stay home and find another way to get involved.

We encourage you to follow any path to activism you feel strongly about, but if you choose to protest, protect yourself:

  • Wear a mask at all times
  • Bring hand-sanitizer
  • Pack more water bottles than you think you need
  • Do your best to stay six feet away from others
  • Limit how long you stay
  • Remain vigilant and aware of your circumstances at all times
  • As soon as you get home, shower and wash all the clothes you wore

Don’t Forget to Practice Self-Care

For many of us, the events we’ve seen on TV, or even in our own neighborhoods have been scary and even traumatic. So much bad news, on top of all the news about COVID-19, can be exhausting.

To be a better ally, you need to stay mentally strong and healthy. Make self-care a priority. It’s OK to turn off the news once in a while. And remember, AltaMed is here for you. We hope you will join us and take whatever steps you can to make our communities healthier, safer, and more just for everyone.

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Woman Voting With Sticker

5 Reasons Why You Should Vote!

NOTE: It’s so important to understand what you are voting about. AltaMed has guides with information about the propositions on the upcoming ballot here and here. Voting is already underway, so read up, take notes, and be sure to vote early.

This year’s election goes beyond who will be president. Your vote is your voice n issues affecting housing, education, employment and healthcare.

Help make a difference in your community during this general election and join us in “My Vote, My Health” initiative. Have you registered to vote?

Here are just a few reasons why you should get registered and vote:

1. Elections have consequences.

Kids Voting

You have the power to decide on the quality of life you want for yourself and future generations. Voting is your chance to stand up for the issues you care about like public transportation, raising minimum wage, or funding local schools. This is your life: take the time to help decide what’s best.

2. Not voting is giving up your voice.

Voters Exerting

Elections are decided by the people who go out and vote. Take some time and learn about the measures and the candidates. If you don’t vote, someone else will make the decision for you. Your power is in your vote.

3. It's your money.

Tax Time Note

You pay taxes, but do you know how that money is being used? Most people don’t. Voting is your chance to choose how your tax dollars are spent – such as funding for health care and social services.

4. Voting is an opportunity for change.

Ballot Paper

Do you want to make a positive impact? Voting gives you that chance! Support the candidates and ballot measures that can help your community, state, and even the nation for the greater good. Make your voice heard in these elections.

5. The community depends on you!

Kids Promoting Vote

Our communities are made up of friends, loved ones, neighbors, and children. Some may not know how important voting is, while others don’t have the privilege. Make the decision to vote for yourself and those around you.

Make sure your voice is heard – vote!

People going to vote

The 2020 Census: Stand Up and Be Counted!

2020 is a very important year for all of us and our communities.

For one thing, it’s an election year, and we’ll go to the polls to pick our president and elected representatives. We will also vote on measures that affect housing, the justice system, our schools, and much more. It’s also time for the 2020 Census.

The census is like a selfie of everyone living in the United States – kids, babies, seniors, teens, adults. Regardless of citizenship, everyone counts! If you weren’t here for the last one and don’t know why it’s a big deal – trust us, it is! It only happens every 10 years so here’s everything you need to know about why it matters and how it could affect you.

First Things First: Your Information is Protected

Woman Talking on The Phone

One of the questions we hear most often is, “Is it safe for me to participate?” We understand many people are worried about sharing information about their ethnicity or their country of origin, but we can assure you that you and your information are protected regardless of your race, gender, or citizenship. It is against the law for your census information to be shared or used against you in any way.

Why the Census Matters

Mom and Daughter With Vote Signs

Your census answers are used to make decisions that affect our communities. The government uses all the information to plan where to build hospitals, fire departments, schools, and roads. Census data is also used to help draw community boundaries and districts. This may not seem like a big deal, but legislative districts can be redrawn to concentrate political power – giving some people more opportunities at the expense of others.

Census information is also used for planning federal funding. In California, we get about $115 billion a year for programs like:

  • MediCal
  • Medicare
  • SNAP
  • TANF

The census helps determine how that money is split and where it goes.

If everyone isn’t counted, we could lose billions of dollars for essential local programs, and then we’d have to wait another 10 years to do anything about it.

What’s Asked and What’s New

People Voting

This year, there will only be nine questions; in previous years, it’s been 10. Questions take about 10 minutes to answer and are about:

  • What kind of household you live in – for example, if it’s a house, apartment, or mobile home
  • If you own your home or are renting
  • The number of people living in your household
  • Their age, race, and gender

Answer every question honestly and do your best to provide complete information. Children under the age of five are often undercounted, so if you’re a parent, make sure you include them.

You can see complete details and questions at the official US Census website.

Census Begins March 12

Census forms will be delivered to every home beginning March 12. Your form will contain detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 census online, by phone, or by mail. If you don’t return your form, you will receive three reminders before a census worker will be sent to your home to walk you through the process.

If you receive a visit from anyone claiming to be a census worker, ask to see their ID. It should contain their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. Census workers may have equipment with the Census Bureau logo. If you refuse to talk to a census worker, they will simply come back, and you could be fined.

If you would like help filling out your form, you can call (323)531-7741 from March 12 – August 14.

The Census is Your Voice

Crowd on Census 2020 Stand

Participating in the Census is similar to voting: it’s a way to stand up not only for yourself, but your family, and your community. If you don’t participate, we miss opportunities for funding and representation.

We’re counting on you to be counted and spread the knowledge to those you know. Bookmark this page, email it to friends by clicking on the icon near the title, or get our handy overview document that you can save, print or share. Knowledge is power, and the more of us who are willing to participate, the more powerful we become!

How to Safely and Effectively Support Black Lives Matter and Racial Justice