This week on Partners in Fire, we are featuring a guest post from our good friend Tawnya at Money Saved is Money Earned. Tawnya is part of her school’s Equity Team, and one of the last things they did before going to summer break was put together a list of ways we could support people of color, specifically Black Americans, in response to the police brutality and systematic inequality POC face every day. This post includes some of the things we discussed aside from joining protests or posting things on social media.
Support People of Color
Recent incidents of police brutality and the protests they’ve sparked has firmly put race and social justice issues in the spotlight. It’s terrible that it’s taken such grievous incidents to get society to acknowledge the systematic racism and white privilege inherent in American culture, but hopefully positive change will come from the current movement. With the reality of the inequity in our country firmly in our face, many white people are wondering how to support people of color.
While protesting and being vocal on social media are great ways to support people of color, and specifically Black Americans, those means of support are not for everyone. Many have concerns about the ongoing pandemic and are weary of sparking arguments on social media.
Luckily, these are not the only means of supporting people of color, they are simply the most visible.
Whatever your reasons for not joining protests or posting on social media, know that there are ways you can still help. If you’re one of those that has joined protests or been posting on social media, there are other things you can do to further support people of color.
This list lets you know how to support people of color both individually and systematically. Hopefully, everyone who reads this will engage in at least one of these actions and help make our country a better place for all people who live here.
7 Ways to Support People of Color
The first thing you should do to support people of color is educate yourself. There are several things you should focus on when educating yourself about race and social justice in this country, but a great place to start is to examine your own bias. Everyone has some level of bias and sometimes our biases are beyond our conscious awareness. They are the result of years of conditioning from our environment, family, and media. Knowing your implicit biases isn’t so you can be labeled or feel bad, but rather so you can be aware of potential biases and work to combat them.
Harvard University developed a series of implicit bias tests that you can take for free online. There are 15 different tests, but I recommend starting with the Race IAT test. After taking these tests you’ll have a better understanding of your own biases and can consciously work to make sure they don’t lead to biased behavior.
Aside from examining your own biases, it’s important to educate yourself on the history of this country, how our systems were designed and for whom, and the current state of racial inequity. There are several ways to educate yourself on these issues, including reading books and watching media.
(Be advised that these are all affiliate links, but any proceeds I receive from the sale of these items will be donated to The Sentencing Project)
You can also check out this list composed by Business Insider.
If you’re not into reading there are also many great movies and documentaries that will help you educate yourself about the history of racism in this country.
- 13th (on Netflix)
- 12 Years a Slave
- If Beale Street Could Talk
- Just Mercy
- Dear White People (on Netflix)
- Mudbound (on Netflix)
The films and books listed above discuss heavy topics and will likely cause you discomfort, but this discomfort is nothing compared to what people of color have lived with and continue to live with every day. Isn’t a little discomfort worth it to help support people of color?
Finally, Portland anti-racist educator Tori Williams Douglass recently launched a series of lessons for white people called White Homework that helps guide you through work around race and bias.
Engage Those with Different Views
Another way to support people of color is to engage those with different views than yours.
Many white people have family or friends who don’t think there is an issue with race in this country or are perhaps prejudice themselves.
As uncomfortable as it might be, it’s important to engage with people with different views, especially when those views support racism or inequality. You don’t have to get into an argument with someone but challenge their views and present other ideas. Offer examples and resources for others to educate themselves, such as those discussed above.
People with prejudiced views often have very little actual experience with people who are different than themselves so providing avenues for people to expand their horizons may help them see their views are unfounded. If nothing else, hopefully you’ll get people to think about their views and why they have them.
Donate to Causes That Support People of Color
Another impactful way to support people of color is to donate to causes that support them.
Donating to causes is one way to put money directly into the hands of those who support people of color and are fighting to promote racial equity.
Some good organizations that support Black Americans include:
Other great organizations that support other groups of color include:
- Grassroots Leadership
- United We Dream
- Unidos US
- Wings of America
- Native American Heritage Association
Buy From Businesses Owned by People of Color
One of the most direct ways you can support people of color is to buy from businesses owned by them. Buying from businesses owned by people of color promotes diversity and entrepreneurship to populations with more hurdles to jump to succeed. Spend some time checking your local area for businesses owned by people of color and try to make it a point to shop there when you can.
You can search for Black owned businesses by visiting Support Black Owned and searching your area.
Another way to support the businesses of people of color is to eat at ethnic restaurants owned by people of color. These are usually small businesses owned by a family and have fantastic authentic food.
You can also seek out businesses owned by people of color when shopping online.
Along with purposely shopping/eating at businesses owned by people of color, it’s also important to be conscious of the other businesses you are supporting. If a business has policies that don’t promote racial equity you should look to shop elsewhere. Money is the ultimate motivator so it’s important to promote your ideas through where you spend your money and hopefully support social change in the process.
Of course, one of the most impactful ways to promote the changes you wish to see is to vote.
Unfortunately, there are still many barriers to voting in many places in this country, especially for people of color. But it’s more important than ever to vote for people that will strive for social justice and racial equity, especially white voters.
Voting for those who promote divisiveness, or not voting at all, ensures that the status quo continues. People of color will continue to be systematically oppressed unless we vote to change it.
Use Your Platform to Highlight People of Color
This one is specifically geared toward influencers and business-owners.
The national experience and voice is predominantly white, especially because most of those in power or who run the sources of power are white.
If you have a platform, make sure you use it to highlight people of color and make sure those voices are heard. Promote stories from people of color, ask for their opinions and thoughts, and support their work.
Listen to People of Color
Last but certainly not least, just be willing to listen to people of color.
As a white person it’s hard to imagine some of the prejudice and racist experiences that people of color go through, or the fears they have. That’s understandable, but what isn’t acceptable is to deny that these experiences happen or that prejudice exists. So, when a person of color opens up and feels comfortable sharing their experiences, listen.
Listen, learn, and try to be better.
Supporting people of color isn’t about a few weeks of protests or social media posts. It’s also about what we can do as white allies to change ourselves and our country. Start at the individual level and educate yourself, about your own bias and racial inequity in this country.
At the same time, engage with those who have different views and try to help educate them to the best of your ability. Further your support by doing business with people of color. Be aware of the policies of the organizations you do business with.
Additionally, you can donate to causes that support people of color, use any platforms you have to highlight people of color, and vote.
But most importantly, be willing to listen. This is how to support people of color and promote a better America.