By Haylee Thorson
It’s been over a week since the reprehensible murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, but the repercussions have just begun. Riots, protests, tear gas—this is America in 2020. Systematic racism has run rampant throughout this country for hundreds of years and one would hope that in modern-day society it would no longer be an issue. Well, that is simply not the case. Black individuals are 2.5 times more likely to be targets of police brutality than white individuals, even though they only make up 13% of the United States population. With blatant injustices occurring every day, the time for change is long overdue.
As a non-black person, it’s impossible to understand the way black people feel—but that gives us absolutely no right to ignore what is going on. In fact, it is our duty to recognize our privilege and become educated on the Black Lives Matter movement.
We must contribute, we must donate, we must spread awareness.
If you’re uncomfortable, that’s okay. But do not use that as an excuse to sit back in silence. In order for real change to occur, everyone needs to participate. Here are five tangible steps you can take today to support the cause.
1. Support Black-Owned Businesses
The first way you can help as a non-black ally is by supporting black-owned businesses. Instead of ordering takeout from a fast food place, order from local black-owned restaurants in your area. In order to locate them, simply download the app EatOkra. EatOkra is a guide specifically designed to help individuals find black-owned eateries in and around their area and is the perfect way to support black business.
Because this is a beauty and fashion magazine, it only makes sense to include black-owned makeup, skincare and fashion brands too! Here is a list of brands you can buy from right now.
Black-Owned Makeup Brands
Black-Owned Skincare Brands
Black-Owned Fashion Brands
2. Donate and Sign Petitions
Donating and signing petitions are two incredibly helpful was to contribute if you’re unable to attend a protest. Check out this website for access to hundreds of donation sites, petitions, resources and more. This site is updated daily, so be sure to check back frequently for new information.
If you don’t have the means to donate, you can still financially support the BLM movement without spending a dime. The video project below allows you to stream an hour-long YouTube video packed with ads that donate 100% of revenue to bail funds, funeral costs and BLM advocacy. All you have to do is let the video play without skipping any of the advertisements. This is a super easy way to help and requires very little on your part.
3. Learn Your History
Donating and spreading awareness means nothing if you don’t have a firm understanding of your privilege and the history of injustice in this country. As a non-black ally, it is your job, not black people’s, to educate yourself on the matters of systematic racism. Here is a list of books, documentaries, movies and TV shows to help get you started.
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
How To be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Chokehold: The Policing of Black Men by Paul Butler
Documentaries, Movies and Shows
4. Educate Your Children
It’s no secret that ideas about race start at home. If you have children, it is your job to educate them on the topic of racism—no matter how uncomfortable it might make you. Children come into this world without an ounce of prejudice or bias in their hearts and it is up to you to teach them about hatred and injustice and how that is never okay. If black children experience racism from the moment their life begins, then it is never too “early” to educate your non-black child on how to be a loving and respectful human being. There are so many resources out there that can help you start the conversation about race with your child, so utilize them! Here are some books that are appropriate for different age levels, as well as a comprehensive guide for you.
For Elementary Schoolers
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham
For Middle Schoolers
Beyond the Golden Rule: A Parent’s Guide for Preventing and Responding to Prejudice by Dana Williams
5. Spread Awareness
While it is important to educate yourself on topics of racism and oppression, you need to spread the word. Whether it’s through social media or face-to-face conversation, you have to inform other non-black individuals on why it is not okay to remain silent. In the words of Desmond Tutu, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Just because something doesn’t directly affect you, your friends or your family does not mean that it isn’t a problem. Use your platform and use your privilege to help make positive change. Together, we can make a difference—we just have to speak up.
Haylee Thorson is an editorial writer who specializes in beauty, culture, and travel. Follow her on Instagram.