How to Support Black Lives Matter and Communities of Color

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As the nation wrestles with institutional racism and attempts to heal from the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Elijah McClain, Rayshard Brooks, and countless others, many Americans are left wondering what they can do to help. While tens of thousands have joined the protests in the streets, not everyone has the ability to participate in such a physically demanding and time-consuming way, especially with the coronavirus still posing a threat.

What's more, protests and information campaigns on social media only go so far in addressing the change that needs to take place. While they are extremely useful in raising awareness, they do not have a long-term impact on change.

Consequently, if you're passionate about the cause and are committed to making sure the country moves forward, there are countless other ways you can lend your support.

From volunteering and donating money to supporting Black-owned businesses and getting educated, there are a lot of options open to you. Here is an overview of how you can get involved. Keep in mind though that this list is just a tiny representation of the organizations that need your help. Use this list as a starting point, but be on the lookout for more ways to be an ally.

Donate Funds

One of the most obvious ways to support people of color and work to end systemic racism is to offer financial assistance to those who have been impacted by the violence as well as those who have been arrested for taking a stand. Here are some ways in which you can support various organizations and funds financially.

Bail Funds

Donations to these organizations go toward paying the bail or bond in order to release protestors jailed in the United States. If you would like to make a donation in a city or state not listed below, check out the National Bail Fund Network, which lists funds you can donate to in all states that utilize bail or bond systems.

  • The Bail Project: This national revolving bail fund is dedicated to combat mass incarceration. What's more, 100% of online donations are used to bring people home. Additionally, the money comes back to the organization when the cases close, so they are able to recycle every dollar donated at least twice a year.
  • National Bail Out: This is a Black-led and Black-centered group of lawyers, organizers, and activists that are working to end mass incarceration. Donations help them bail-out community members and provide supportive services.
  • Chicago Community Bond Fund: This organization pays the bond for people charged with crimes in Cook County, Illinois. They maintain that people who are unable to pay bonds have higher rates of incarceration, longer sentences, loss of housing and jobs, separation from their families, and loss of custody. They also advocate bringing an end to bail bonds.
  • Atlanta Solidarity Fund: This fund supports people in Atlanta who have been arrested for taking action against social injustice. What's more, they are focused primarily on bailing out arrestees and give priority to those with the greatest financial need.

Victim Memorial Funds

Donations to these organizations go toward supporting the recent victims of violence. Below you will find a number of examples:

  • Elijah McClain Memorial Fund: Organized by his mother, Sheneen McClain, this fund is in honor of Elijah who was a 23-year old who went into a coma and died after being placed in a chokehold by Aurora Police in Colorado last August.
  • I Run With Maud: This fund was created to assist Ahmaud's mother and her immediate family with financial support as they struggle to bring justice for his murder. Arbery was chased and gunned down by several men in the community. They claim to have witnessed a burglary. However, there has been no evidence of a burglary.
  • George Floyd Memorial Fund: This fund, which was established by Floyd's brother, is designed to assist with funeral expenses, grief counseling, mental health counseling, and lodging and travel for all court proceedings. It also will be used to assist the family as they seek justice for Floyd.
  • Justice for Breonna Taylor: This fund was set up by a family member of Breonna Taylor, who was killed when police broke down her door with a battering ram to execute a "no-knock" search warrant. They suspected that two suspects had used her apartment to sell drugs, but no drugs were found in the search.
  • David McAtee Memorial Fund: Known as Yaya or the BBQ Man by those in his community, David McAtee was a local restaurant owner that was shot and killed by authorities in Kentucky. Donations will be given to the family to assist with funeral experiences and to fund any legal action needed as they fight for justice.

Support Community Change

Whether you volunteer your time, give financially, or both, there are countless organizations working tirelessly to bring about change in this country both locally and nationally.

Here is an overview of some of the community organizations and policy-reform groups that are working not only to advance the lives of people of color, but also to end systemic racism, bring about change, and end racial injustice. This is not an exhaustive list, so be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for other ways to bring about change in your community.

Community Change and Enrichment Groups

Donations made to these groups help bring change to communities throughout the country. These groups work to create programs that encourage education, advancement, and opportunities for communities of color.

  • Black and Brown Founders: The goal of this organization is to provide community, education, and access for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs, which allows them to build and launch their tech businesses with modest resources. Their support allows business-minded people of color to launch startups without relying on venture capital.
  • Black Girls Code: This organization strives to assist young and pre-teen girls of color in learning in-demand skills in technology and computer programming while they are still thinking about what they want to do when they grow up. This mission is accomplished by reaching out to communities through school programs and workshops.
  • Harriet Tubman Collective: This collective consists of Black deaf and disabled organizers, community builders, and activists that are working toward racial inclusion and liberation. Their goal is to elevate the experiences and leadership of the most marginalized Black people.
  • Embrace Race: This multiracial organization is comprised of parents, teachers, experts and other caring adults who support one another in addressing the challenges of race. Embrace Race identifies, organizes, and creates tools, resources, and discussion spaces designed to meet the organization's four goals. These goals include nurturing resilience in children of color, being empathetic and inclusive of children of all stripes, raising kids to think critically about racial inequity, and supporting a movement of racial justice advocates.
  • SoGal: As the largest global platform for education and empowerment of diverse investors and entrepreneurs, SoGal works to close the gap in entrepreneurship and venture capital. With more than 250 events a year, they offer a plethora of training and educational opportunities to help people of color succeed in their business endeavors.

Policy-Reform Organizations

Donations to these organizations go toward helping these groups implement legislative efforts designed to overturn systemically racist policies across the nation.

  • American Civil Liberties Union: Through its racial justice program the ACLU strives to preserve and extend constitutionally guaranteed rights to people who have historically been denied their rights on the basis of race. From education and housing to the legal system, they aim to address the deep-seated systemic racism and inequities that still exist in the country.
  • Black Lives Matter Global Network: Founded in 2013 in response to Trayvon Martin's death, Black Lives Matter Foundation is a global organization who is working to build local power and intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities. They work vigorously for the freedom and justice of Black people.
  • Advancement Project: This national organization is rooted in the desire to address human rights struggles for equality and justice. Their programs focus on tackling inequity with innovative strategies and strong community alliance by combining the law, communications, policy, and technology to create solutions and achieve systemic change.
  • Black Voters Matter: Increasing voter registration and turnout is an important part of giving people of color a voice in their communities. Consequently, this group advocates for expanding voting rights and access as well as strengthening the Voting Rights Act. In addition to donating, you also can take their "5 Friend Pledge" or host a speaker at your next event.
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund: Donations to this fund help the organization fight landmark legal battles, protect voters across the country, and advance the cause of racial justice and equality. Through litigation, advocacy, and education the Legal Defense Fund strives to bring about structural changes to eliminate disparities and expand democracy.

Have the Difficult Conversations

Learning how to be a helpful ally requires that you have difficult conversations with your friends of color. Knowing how to listen—even when what they have to say is hard or difficult to hear—is the first step toward lasting change.

As activists have said, it's not enough to be "not racist." Instead, you need to be "actively anti-racist." When this happens, you will be taking those first steps toward social and economic change in a society that is riddled with systemic racism.

Another way to educate yourself is to read books that deal with racism in order to learn more about racism and to protest history that is not shared adequately. Likewise, you can watch documentaries to learn more about issues like mass incarceration.

Finally, check out Letters for Black Lives, which is a multilingual resource aimed at creating opportunities for open and honest conversations about racial justice, police violence, and anti-Blackness in our communities. The letters on their site are thought-provoking and created to be conversation starters.

Support Black-Owned Businesses

During the pandemic, it's important to support local businesses, but it's especially important to support Black-owned businesses. The owners often have trouble securing loans and often are overlooked when it comes to federal aid. To find businesses in your area, try accessing the directories listed below.

  • Eat Black Owned: This organization is a Black-owned restaurant locator. Their site features more than 2000 Black-owned cafes, diners, and restaurants nationwide.
  • Support Black Owned: This free Black-owned business directory and blog contains thousands of Black, Moorish, and African American-owned businesses. Their goal is to eventually host every Black-owned business, church, restaurant in the world.

Volunteer Your Time and Energy

For people who cannot donate or protest, you can always volunteer your time and energy. Consider your strengths, passions, and profession to see if you're naturally equipped to provide a service to protestors and civil rights groups. For instance, some people have made masks for protestors while others have offered to provide childcare.

Meanwhile, some volunteers have made food for protestors while others have offered their medical expertise and first aid skills to those who have been sprayed with tear gas or hit with rubber bullets. Lawyers also are needed to help provide legal assistance to those who are arrested. No matter what your profession is or your passion, there are probably ways in which you can volunteer.

Practice Self-Care

The process to really becoming antiracist is a lengthy, intensive psychological process that must include self-care and compassion. When engaging in antiracist work, stay grounded and check your own pulse to see if you are really able to engage as it really is intense.  

It's important to make sure that you are eating, sleeping, exercising, and staying connected with family and friends as well as taking breaks from social media as needed. If you find yourself neglecting these key elements of self-care, consider seeking professional help in the form of therapy.

Evaluate Your Day-to-Day Living

Take time to self-reflect to see if you are living your life in a way that is constant with being antiracist. Think about any small changes you can make in your daily life that could have a lasting impact to support Black Lives Matter.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I engaging with my friends, families, co-workers, and neighbors?
  • Am I looking out for injustice and challenging it when it arises?
  • Am I encouraging others to become antiracists?

A Word From Verywell

When it comes to addressing systemic racism and bringing about change in this country, the first step is getting everyone involved and engaged. Racism is deeply embedded and entrenched throughout and, therefore, it will take a lot for all of us to overcome it. We all bear the burden of taking steps to address racism.

No matter what your personal situation is or your limitations, there are always for you to engage, get involved, and to support change not only in your local community but also in the nation as a whole.

Look for ways to become educated about issues facing people of color and have those difficult conversations with your friends, family, and neighbors. Devote your time to reading books, watching documentaries, engaging in study groups, and online forums. Together, the people in this country can bring about change and create an environment that is truly equitable for every person regardless of their race or station in life.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert. She's also the former editor of Columbus Parent and has countless years of experience writing and researching health and social issues.