Systemic racism leads directly to racial wealth disparity, which makes monetary contributions a critical way for allies to act. Because white people tend to have more money than Black people, and because money is power, giving money to help fight racism is a way to redistribute power and privilege to help make progress.
But money is also tight for a lot of people right now, given the economic impact of the pandemic. That’s also OK. There are a lot of ways you can contribute, both directly and indirectly, a little bit at a time. Here are some ideas.
Give money directly to Black people
The easiest and most straightforward way you can use your money to help the people at the front lines of the fight against racism (read: Black people) is to give them literal financial support. Direct payments are a small way that individual white people can use their privilege to help individual Black people.
Black creators and artists often accept tips and donations in acknowledgment of their labor. They may have a Patreon account you can contribute to in order to support their work. That’s also a great way to help elevate and amplify Black voices. And a quick search on Twitter can often help you find threads filled with people who could use support, along with their Venmo or Cash App information. If you have a social media platform, you could also consider inviting Black folks to share their Cash App or Venmo and encouraging your other followers to donate directly.
Important thing: This doesn’t mean that you should just randomly send money to your Black friends. That could come off as presumptive, and / or burden your friends with the additional emotional labor of deciding how to react. Supporting your Black friends should be much more empathetic than that, anyway. Instead, send money to those who have publicly welcomed it, or friends who have specifically asked for financial help.
Give money to antiracist non-profits and causes
There are a lot of non-profits, grassroots organizations, and other groups doing important work to respond to the violence and protests happening right now. This includes bail funds, legal defense funds, on-the-ground support, the George Floyd Memorial Fund, and many others.
Any donation is helpful, but it’s worth doing a little digging first to make sure that your dollars are going where they’re most needed as things are happening right now. Some — like the Minnesota Freedom Fund and the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund — have received such generous support that they’re asking donors to redirect money to other worthy causes instead.
The fight against racism isn’t a one-time thing, and it won’t be over when these particular protests stop. One easy way to continue your momentum is to set up a recurring monthly donation and put it on auto-pilot.
Recurring donations not only make it easier for non-profits to plan their annual operating budgets, but also enable you to give more over time than you might be able to give all at once, today. Many non-profits will offer a monthly giving option on their main donation page.
If you have a favorite cause, one that resonates deeply with your values, that can be a great choice. Organizations, mutual aid groups, and bailout funds for jailed protesters within your local community are also a good place to start. But if you aren’t sure where to donate for the long term, you can also consider large non-profit organizations that have the means to direct funds where they’re needed most — like the ACLU, the NCAAP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Color of Change.
Hold a fundraiser
If you don’t have money to donate right now, or you want to boost your impact above what you can afford to give, you can encourage your friends and family to lend their support. Sometimes all it takes to help convince people to donate is to ask.
Facebook has a well-established fundraising tool. Or you can collect donations via Instagram Stories. You can also get creative: Maybe you commit to running a mile for every $50 raised, or put out a call for people to match your donation.
Use your spending power
Giving isn’t the only way to make an impact, especially over the long term. Where we spend our money matters.
Buy from Black-owned businesses
Start locally. Google to see if there are lists out there that have been compiled in your area. (If not, start one.) Check out online directories like Black Nation. And ask for recommendations or search on sites like EatOkra to find Black-owned restaurants you can order delivery from.
To find national or online Black-owned companies, it can be as simple as scrolling through hashtags like #blackownedbusiness on Instagram or searching “black-owned businesses” on Twitter. Check out Support Black Owned. Or browse massive lists like this.
Support Black authors and Black-owned bookstores
There’s been a huge spike in lists of antiracist book recommendations — to the point that a lot of them are sold out right now. That’s amazing, but there are always more. If you’re going to read nonfiction books about antiracism or novels featuring Black characters, choose books by Black authors.
Where you buy books matters, too. Here’s a list by the African American Literature Book Club of Black-owned bookstores in the US. Many are shipping nationally or offering curbside pickup. You may also be able to directly support one of them through third-party retailers that partner with independent bookstores, like Bookshop for print books or Libro.fm for audiobooks (bonus: audiobooks are never sold out).
Buy from companies that are donating proceeds
In response to the conversation and movement happening right now, a lot of companies and business owners are pledging to donate some or all of the proceeds from their sales to antiracist causes. Make it a point to prioritize Black-owned businesses that are making this offer first.
You can help get (or keep) more money in the hands of Black people indirectly by volunteering — both your time and any special skills you have. Ask local antiracist non-profits if they need help that you can provide. See if there’s a mutual aid group or other grassroots organization in your area — many are on the front lines supporting protesters right now. If you work in a specialized field, like therapy or financial planning or business strategy or social media, tell your network that you’d like to use volunteer skills to help people and Black-owned companies.
And finally: Keep it up. The national conversation about systemic racism is very loud right now and it may seem like whatever you can contribute might not matter, but it will still take time and effort and lots and lots of financial support to dismantle white supremacy. The fight needs every one of us.
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