WI Black Lives Matter Toolkit

WNPJ GW toolkit for RJ convos across WI-2.pdf1.79 MB



This toolkit is created as an effort to get people around WI engaged in the Black Lives Matter movement that has brought thousands of people into the streets to demand justice and liberation for black people.  The phrase black lives matter was coined by Alicia Garcia in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin's death at the hands of George Zimmerman, the white police officer who was not charged with killing this young black man, and has since been heard or seen by nearly everyone in the US and by many around the world.

It has become popularized in protests calling out police violence against black people from Michael Brown in Ferguson, to Eric Garner in NYC, Tamir Rice in Ohio, and Dontre Hamilton in Milwuakee.  In each of these cases white police officers have killed unarmed black men or children, and three of these cases so far have brought no charges to the police involved. 

Protests across the country have fueled a conversation about the need to address police violence against black people, and overall institutional racism that effects housing, education, employment, health, in all aspects of our lives in the US.

This toolkit is an effort to help people take action by way of conversation, protest, vigil, and education, moving ourselves, friends and neighbors from silence to action. 

We are holding a conference call to highlight some of the organizing happening in Madison and Milwaukee.  Coalition for Justice in Milwaukee has been working for justice for Dontre Hamilton.  You can find out more about them here:  https://www.facebook.com/justicefordontre  Young Gifted and Black Coalition has been holding weekly actions since the Darren Wilson Non-Indictment for killing Michael Brown.  They are linking the struggles to a local effort against building a new or renovated jail and reducing racial disparities in incarceration:  https://www.facebook.com/fergusontomadison  We will also be hearing from Jennifer Epps Addison of Wisconsin Jobs Now about statewide organizing around state sanctioned violence:  http://wisconsinjobsnow.org

Much of the information used is borrowed from other great resources that already exists and have done our best to given credit where credit is due.

Thank you,
Liz, Barb, Jake, Carl, John, Laura, Ann, Erika, Z!
Organizing committee 

For more information contact:

Who we are/Who is this for/Why does it matter

Who we are:

Our planning committee includes people connected primarily to two organizations:

Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice: A statewide network consisting of 150 member groups and 300 individual members working for sustainable, non-violent world.

Groundwork:  Madison-based organization working to engage more white people in racial justice work.

Who is this for?

Predominately white people, and people of color around the state, who want to be allies to the Black Lives Matter efforts.

Why would this matter to you?

Maybe you are white and live in a mostly white area.  Why does this matter? 

Whether you are a person of color, you live in an area where there are people of color, or not, you can effect racism.   There are likely people of color that you come in contact with whether or not you realize it.  Either way, learning about racism in the context of US history informs our sense of self, and our sense of what it means to be a human being.  By standing silent we choose a side, and right now is an important time to stand on the side of justice for black lives by getting educated, teaching others and taking action.

For people of color who are not black, this is a moment to question any anti-black sentiment in ourselves or our communities.  It is also a time to build connections and to see that the liberation of all people of color is bound together and the freedom and liberation of black people is a key piece to everyone's liberation. 

What you can do/Actions you can take

What you can do/Actions you can take

1. Email or call the members of the Public Protection and Judiciary Committee (PP&J) of the Dane County Board of Supervisors to tell them that you don’t want any money to go to a new or remodeled Dane County Jail! We need them to focus on alternatives to jails and on programs that keep people from being locked up in the first place. PP&J contact info:

Andrew Schauer



Carousel Bayrd (v chair)



Dorothy Krause



Leland Pan



Maureen McCarville



Michael Willett



Paul Rusk (chair)




Planning a conversation

Sample Conversation Plan

So you want to have a house or community conversation?? Great!


Plan the event:

Outreach Plan: 

Sample flyer:

Hosting the event

Reach out for support:

Report Back!

Sample Agenda

Sample Agenda:


Sample ice breaker questions:
Name and what brought you here, and if you were a super hero what superpower would you have?

Facilitator overview:
We are having this conversation here, and others are having similar conversations across the state and country.  We will talk about some of the deaths of black people at the hands of police in other parts of the country and the protests in response to this.  Have people heard about the situation in Ferguson? (A black un armed teenager, Michael Brown was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer.  The community was upset by this and by the handling of the case and has been protesting ever since.  The protests rose up again in Ferguson and also around the country after Darren Wilson was not indicted by the grand jury.)  Since Ferguson there has also been Eric Garner choked by a police officer, and 12 year old Tamir Rice shot by police for having a toy gun.  Closer to home, Dontre Hamilton was sleeping in Red Arrow Park, when he was woken by police officer Christopher Manny and ultimately shot 14 times while being unarmed.  Manny was not indicted for this killing.

These events have highlighted some of the racial disparities and continued oppression that black people face in the US and WI.   (You may want to highlight some of these statistics or have others read them)

From Center On Wisconsin Strategy:  http://www.cows.org/_data/documents/1571.pdf 

The Black Lives Matter efforts have also called attention to the privilege that white people hold who are much less likely to be killed by the police, or arrested or incarcerated for similar crimes committed by people of color.

Let's begin with some guidelines

Talking about race can be challenging.  Here are some guidelines to follow:

This will help us make sure we can create a space where people can get the most out of our time together.

Things to keep in mind. Road Blocks

Now let's talk!

Conversation Starters:
Choose one or both of the questions below and then have people pair up with the person next to them and discuss the question, make sure each person gets a chance to share.  If you choose to do a different reading or watch a different video feel free to make up your own questions.

Question 1:
Watch this video of Tamir Rice being killed by police 2 seconds after pulling up at this park.  Tamir is a 12 year old black child who was playing with a toy gun in a park. 


Here is an article with an interview with his mother.

Can you imagine finding out that your 12 year old child or a child you know was killed by police 2 seconds after they arrived at a park where he was playing with a toy gun?   What does this tell you about the way that  black people are stereotyped as criminals?  Is this as likely to happen to a white child?

Question 2:
Three black women came up with the slogan and the organization #BlackLivesMatter and it has gotten very popular.  Why do you think this is a popular slogan and why wouldn't it be obvious that black lives matter?  Why would it be important to say black lives matter and not all lives matter?

Here is a quote from Alicia Garza, one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter from her article on the herstory of the blacklivesmatter effort. http://blacklivesmatter.com/a-herstory-of-the-blacklivesmatter-movement/

When Black people get free, everybody gets free

When we deploy “All Lives Matter” as to correct an intervention specifically created to address anti-blackness, we lose the ways in which the state apparatus has built a program of genocide and repression mostly on the backs of Black people—beginning with the theft of millions of people for free labor—and then adapted it to control, murder, and profit off of other communities of color and immigrant communities. 

When you drop “Black” from the equation of whose lives matter, and then fail to acknowledge it came from somewhere, you further a legacy of erasing Black lives and Black contributions from our movement legacy. And consider whether or not when dropping the Black you are, intentionally or unintentionally, erasing Black folks from the conversation or homogenizing very different experiences.  The legacy and prevalence of anti-Black racism and hetero-patriarchy is a lynch pin holding together this unsustainable economy. And that’s not an accidental analogy....

And, perhaps more importantly, when Black people cry out in defense of our lives, which are uniquely, systematically, and savagely targeted by the state, we are asking you, our family, to stand with us in affirming Black lives. Not just all lives. Black lives.  Please do not change the conversation by talking about how your life matters, too. It does, but we need less watered down unity and a more active solidarities with us, Black people, unwaveringly, in defense of our humanity. Our collective futures depend on it.

-Alicia Garza


This exercise is borrowed from Showing Up for Racial Justice's Tooklit on Police Brutality which can be found here: http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/archives/2016

It is tempting to separate ourselves from other people of our same race who disagree with us on this or other racial justice matters. It can be painful to know that someone you know or care about holds views that you know to be biased. However, as people committed to racial justice, a powerful way to create change is to engage people of our same race in dialogue, to see talking about race with them as our responsibility.  These questions are specifically tailored to white people talking with other white people, but may be relevant for other people of color as well, or for people of color talking to white people.  Think back to how your analysis and perspective were shaped:

-- Listen well to what the other person is saying, and why they see things the way that they do. -- Ask questions to help clarify. -- Withhold judgement. The goal is to move them forward, not to prove something about yourself.


The following are some suggestions for how to respond to conclusions white people often come to around police brutality. The goal is not to read these as a script, feel free to modify as makes sense for your conversations and life. We also included some questions that spark deeper conversations:  Partner with someone and play the roles which might come with each comment and response.  After practicing talking from these points of view, then discuss the question.

After 5 minutes switch and partner with someone else.

Action Steps:






21 days of action



Reclaim MLK Day from Ferguson Action



SURJ Police  Brutality Toolkit



Race to Equity toolkit



Black Alliance for Just Immigration Articles





Anti-racist resources

From an Anti-racist role play and skill share event (by a group in Vermont)





(brilliant video of ferguson organizers breaking it down on ABC and really centering the message)



(another brilliant video of the two of the creators of speaking to the current moment)




(a herstory of black lives matter, understanding who this movement seeks to center and how it is connecting the dots)



(better understanding what white privilege is and how it works)



(from SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), a national white racial justice network, talking points for white folks about what is going on, what white folks' role is and why it is crucial for white folks to be a part of the emerging movement for Black Liberation)



(unpacking the subtle and not so subtle ways that well meaning white folks perpetuate racism and what we can do about it)



(the limits of the good white person--useful article and some interesting comments too)



(daily ways that white entitlement emerges and exists unchecked)



(the problems with inclusion and diversity and the liberalism that they come from)



(an article detailing why it is crucial that we talk about anti-black racism and black lives in this historic moment)



(what are the stages of what happens when there's injustice against black people)



(national demands of the #blacklivesmatter campaign)



(understanding and unpacking white "non violence" and how it often is coded racism)



(a long but brilliant packet of information, activities, definitions, and more that the catholic workers center in St Louis has put together in the wake of the events in ferguson)



(super moving essay by a black professor at vassar about what his class/educational privilege protects him from and what it doesn't)



(even in the very protests that are about saying that black lives matter, how white entitlement and privilege emerges)



(great call to action for white rural folks to be talking about racism in our communities)

Personal Stories

As a parent, I'm often trying to think of creative ways to engage my kids in understanding racism, white privilege and power at their levels of learning, always being open to their questions. Our conversations have evolved over time from when they were younger focusing on 'the behavior' and not the person, to reading books by authors of color, to taking part in protests and discussing the reasons behind the Black Lives Matter movement. I don't always say the right things, but I'm committed to continuing to try. Ultimately, I hope they feel empowered to send a message, help someone and take actions for racial justice. One project we did recently was invite neighborhood families to design a racial justice sign. Kids (ages 8-14) picked out scrap pieces of wood at a local Makerspace (Sector67), then created a sign in Inkscape to match their piece of wood. We then uploaded their designs to either a laser cutter or wood carving CNC machine. The result were some very happy kids who took pride in their work for racial justice.

~ Laura McNeill