Currently protests are raging across the country calling for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and dozens of other Black folks who have been killed as a result of systemic racism. As our social media feeds and email inboxes flood with opinions, tragic images, and calls to action, it can be challenging to know how to respond, especially if you yourself are not Black. How can we support Black folks right now? What is the best way to be an effective ally? How can we effectively contribute to ending racism in America? These are tricky questions, but luckily there are hundreds of resources being created and shared right now.
Here are 5 ways you can support Black folks and make a difference in the fight to end racism.
1. Educate Yourself
If you grew up in the public school system in America, chances are there’s a lot about Black history that you didn’t learn. And if you’re not Black, there’s so much about the BIPOC experience that you may not even be aware of. It is crucial as people with privilege to learn from those who are marginalized. If we don’t start from a place of listening, learning, and building empathy, then we will never change anything.
Acknowledge that there’s a lot you don’t know, and then dedicate yourself to learning. Not sure where to start?
- Movies: The 13th (Netflix), I Am Not Your Negro (Prime), If Beale Street Could Talk (Hulu), Selma (Prime)
- Books: Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- Podcasts: Codeswitch, 1619, The Nod
2. Support Black Businesses
This is so important. Did you know that Black-owned small businesses were hit the hardest by the COVID-19 lockdown? The number of Black-owned businesses dropped from 1.1 million in February to only 640,000 in April. Additionally, Black business owners are rejected for loans at a more than 20% higher rate than white business owners. With these crucial issues being highlighted right now, there’s no excuse not to support Black-owned businesses in your community.
Not sure where to start? Articles are being published left and right with long lists of Black-owned businesses in cities all over the country. A quick google search can lead you there. Still not sure? Here’s a list of 125 Black-owned businesses that covers everything from clothing and home goods to fitness and food. And if you’re looking to fill your library, maybe skip Amazon and check out one of these 22 Black-owned bookstores instead!
If you are one of the lucky few with some disposable income right now, donating is a great option. Maybe you want to put your stimulus check to good use! Give to organizations that are directly supporting communities of color. Or if you want to donate to specific causes or memorial funds, you can find lists of vetted organizations that support things like police reform, community enrichment, bail out funds, education, policy reform and more. And remember, one time donations are great, but if you can, make those donations recurring!
4. Have Tough Conversations
Ending systemic racism isn’t something we can do in a day or a week or a year. It’s more than donating and posting on social media. It’s also having difficult conversations with ourselves, our families and our friends about the ways we benefit from racism. As non-Black folks, it is our responsibility to educate one another.
It is our job to call out racism when we see and hear it and to share resources with our friends and family in order to educate. This can be really uncomfortable. It’s hard to reconcile the ways we all benefit from racism and white privilege. It can be even harder to point that out to our friends and family.
5. Amplify Black Voices
It’s really easy to share our opinions and thoughts on social media these days. We all have valuable and important things to say, but if you are not Black, right now might not be the time. As much as it’s important to have difficult conversations with our non-Black friends, it’s equally important to amplify the voices of our Black friends.
Share books, movies, articles, and podcasts made by Black creators and writers. Follow more Black folks on Instagram and repost their content. Use your platform, however large or small it may be, to highlight the important voices of those who have been marginalized and oppressed.
Putting an end to systemic racism is no easy task. We’ve seen huge amounts of change happen in these past few weeks, but this is only the beginning. If we really want to create a more fair and just society, we have to put in the work day after day. Start small, and little by little you’ll begin to notice changes in yourself and those around you.
Elizabeth Endara is a writer, advocate, doula, yoga teacher and cat mom based in Chicago. She loves Great British Bake-Off, Eastern Europe, snug coffee shops and writing about her feelings. She is the co-founder of a feminist blog called Release the Women and you can follow her work on Instagram @elizabetheendara.