Ready for the understatement of the year? We need to fight racism.
Money-wise, the economic state of Black America in 2020 is a crying shame. That needs to be addressed, for sure.
But for now, I want to talk about some of the things you can personally do to help fight racism.
Things need to change.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of seeing my friends and neighbors fear for their lives.
Of waking up to hear that yet another Black person “died while in police custody”. You know, as if they just coincidentally happened to die without being acted on in any way.
Or that a 14 year old Hispanic boy was shot in the back by police while running away.
Or that the Navajo Nation – where many people have no running water or electricity — has the highest per-capita infection rate in the US.
And there’s personal finance stuff too that relates to all of that.
I’m tired of so many things.
So if I’m tired, I can’t begin to imagine what Black and other marginalized people feel like.
The bottom line? We have to make changes and fight racism if we want the world to be a better place.
Here are some small things we can do to help fight racism
They are broken into categories by (generally speaking) how long they might take you to do. Many of them are aimed at white people, but not all.
Things to do right away:
These are first because deadlines are approaching, and they are critical. Do them right now if you possibly can.
- Register to vote if you haven’t already.
- Sign up for absentee/early voting once you’ve registered, because voting from home is safe and convenient.
(If you have time to read this article you have time to do those two.)
Things you can do quickly and/or often:
- Acknowledge that you don’t know what you don’t know, and that you can never fully understand another person’s experience because you have not lived it. But it’s good to try.
- Listen with the goal of understanding and learning, not responding/defending.
- Make changes in yourself and your actions as needed. If you screw up, apologize for real, fix it if you can, and don’t do it again.
- If someone who is a member of a marginalized group corrects you, don’t argue with them. Instead, listen, learn, apologize, and make changes.
- Speaking of learning, read about the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Learn why you should stop saying “all lives matter”. Then stop saying it.
- Learn why you should stop saying you don’t see color as well. Then stop saying it.
- Fight micro-aggressions with acts of micro-caring. Or macro-caring; whatever you can do. Every little bit helps.
- If you’re walking down the street and you see a Black person, wave or nod and say hi as you walk by. See them often? Stop and get to know them like you would any other person you see often.
- If you see a Black person jogging, walking, driving, or just living life in your neighborhood, don’t assume they are up to no good. Realize that it might be their neighborhood too, or that they might be visiting. Assume that they are jogging, walking, driving, or just living life. You know, like you would assume a white person was doing. Black people have lives too. And they matter.
- If you don’t have any friends of other races, make some. Not just one, some! Interact and do friend things regularly.
- If you live somewhere that is predominantly white, make an extra strong effort to meet and talk with people of other races. Not about racism (unless they want to have a discussion), but about whatever other common interests you share. You can do this online as well. The whole world is out there online, and it is filled with some amazing people.
- If you hear someone say or do something racist, call them out and stand up for the person they are talking to or about.
- Show the Black people in your life that you care through your words and actions. Remember that they are probably exhausted. Just be a good friend, and don’t make it about you.
- Share about racial inequality, financial inequality, protests, etc. on social media throughout the year.
- Watch this video called Black Parents Explain.
- Think before you speak. Consider your words and the impact they may have on someone hearing or reading them. Would you say whatever you’re about to say to or about an individual person you love more than anything? If the answer is no, maybe don’t say it at all.
- Speaking of words, compliment Black people sincerely about the same types of things you would compliment white people about. For example, “I learned so much from your talk on women & money” is great, because you learned something from their talk. “You’re so articulate” is not ok, because why the heck wouldn’t they be articulate? “I love your shirt” is ok, because anyone can choose a shirt. “Your hair texture is so great, can I touch it?” is not ok, because people are born with their hair and it’s rude to invade someone’s space. “Love the purple!” might be ok if someone has dyed their hair, since people are not born with purple hair. But still no touching.
- Remember that languages spoken do not correlate to skin color. So for example, don’t assume a Hispanic person speaks Spanish, or that they don’t speak English.
- Restrain yourself from asking where someone is from, unless they are literally in the process of moving into a house on your street. If “everyone introduce yourself and say a little bit about where you’re from” somehow comes up, believe their first answer. Do not follow up whatever that answer is with “no but where are you really from?” or “ok but where are your parents from?”.
- If someone shares what happened during a race-related incident with you, believe them and show you care.
Ways to protest and advocate for change:
- Join and donate to organizations that are working to end racism, to improve equality, and to protect 1st Amendment rights.
- If you protest or rally in a group, please wear a mask over both your nose & your mouth. You may also find it useful to know the kind of protective gear Hong Kong protestors wear.
- If you want to protest or show your support but want to avoid crowds/germs, Terrie Chantel pointed out that you can just do that on your own. (Or with family members.) You don’t need to be in a crowd of like-minded people to make a difference. It may feel a little uncomfortable to go stand on a public sidewalk by yourself with a sign at first, but that feeling is nothing compared to living with racism, police brutality, or being killed. Remember why you are protesting and give it a try. You may also be pleasantly surprised by people’s reactions. (Here’s some info on protesters rights too.)
- Decorate your car and wear t-shirts with “Black Lives Matter”, “End Police Brutality”, or other easily-read slogans that matter to you. You’d do it if your favorite football team made it to the Super Bowl, so why not do it for this? The more people see others showing support and taking action, the bigger a difference it will make.
Things that take a little more time but can make a huge difference:
- Actually vote in every election you are eligible to, even the tiny ones. Making a difference starts at the hyper-local level and goes from there. If you don’t know about the candidate, Google their name + your area. It won’t take long to learn something.
- Give feedback to your city and police on issues and public matters.
- Consider documenting police and ICE activity. You can download a free We’re Watching guide here.
- Talk to your kids about racism and how it affects themselves, others, and their friends. You can find resources on sites like Embrace Race. Black parents have to talk to their kids about how to deal with others to try to keep them from being killed, so you can talk to your kids too. They are not too young to learn.
- Take a look at this sharable anti-racism guide and choose at least one resource to learn from. (Thanks to Sandy Smith of Elevate for pointing out this guide, and to Tasha K for creating it.)
- Read and learn in depth, especially from authors who are the race you’re trying to learn more about. They have the life experience. Learn directly from them.
- If you are an employer, set up anti-racist training, seek out and hire diverse employees throughout all levels of the organization, and PAY YOUR EMPLOYEES EQUITABLY.
- If you are an employee, talk amongst yourselves to share salaries. Then do what you can to beat the huge racial and gender pay gap.
Finally, if you haven’t read it already, this article called What White People Can Do for Racial Justice has many, many more ideas on it, including some suggested places to donate to, and specific books to read.
I hope that you will join me in taking action. And if I’ve messed something up here, if you let me know I will fix it :)