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How to support the Black community

From organizations to support, to individual actions you can do today.

The deaths of George Floyd and others at the hands of the police have created a moment of national reckoning. Black Americans have long known that systemic racism and race-based police brutality are fundamental aspects of American life, but it now seems impossible for any American, of any race, to be unaware of these facts. The question is what to do about it and, for many people, how to help directly.

There is, of course, no single answer, but there are various things we can all do to support the Black community and to try to address long-standing injustices. Here are our suggestions.

In this article:

Support these organizations

It’s clear that the protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd are having an impact. In the space of a month, defunding the police has become a mainstream topic of conversation, chokeholds have been made illegal in numerous police departments (while others have been obliged to finally enforce their existing bans), and politicians of all stripes have been proposing police reforms. None of this solves the longstanding problems of police misconduct and racial inequality, but the fact it has happened at all shows the power of direct action. If you are willing and able to join a protest or other form of peaceful direct action, by all means consider doing so (while wearing a mask and following social distancing guidelines, if at all possible).

Beyond that, there are also numerous organizations working for the Black community that could use contributions of money and/or time — some of them are below. (Before sending money, be sure to check the organization’s website or social media to verify that they are still accepting donations. Some have received enough funding that they are now asking people to donate elsewhere.)

Organizations to donate to:

Black Lives Matter and more

You will of course be familiar with the Black Lives Matter movement and its mission to combat racial injustice. The link above takes you to a page where you can donate to the Black Lives Matter Movement directly or to other organizations which they support, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which has been fighting for the civil rights of the Black community for more than 75 years.

Innocence Project

The Innocence Project uses DNA evidence to overturn wrongful convictions and get innocent people out of jail – and 61% of those freed so far have been African American. (In the US, Black men are five times more likely to be incarcerated than whites; Black women are twice as likely to be jailed as white women.)

Bail funds

The US jails more people than any other country on earth, and people of color are far more likely than whites to be locked up before a conviction — incarcerated pre-trial only because they cannot afford cash bail, not because they are considered dangerous. To address this, many Americans have been donating to bail funds, of which there are many. This useful hub for bail fund options is a great place to start. There’s also a list of funds for protesters around the country and a website that allows you to donate to a variety of other funds in various states.

Black Girls Code

Supporting the Black community means addressing current injustices while also trying to create a more equitable future. Black Girls Code works towards the latter, trying to get more women of color into the STEM fields.

Local action

If you want to act locally, donating time or money, Funders for Justice has a map of organizations addressing police accountability in various parts of the country.

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Get political

One virtue of this country is that we all now get a say at the ballot box. Don’t like what you see? Vote. Better yet, help other people register to vote, or consider channeling your energies into running for office yourself. We must engage with our nation’s political process in order to demand and create change. And when it comes to specific issues such as dismantling systemic racism, these three actions are potentially among the more effective:

Call your representatives and make it personal

Your political representatives, from local city council members to state senators, know how little effort it requires for you to @ them in a tweet, and that can affect how seriously they take such communication. What does get their attention is direct contact by phone or email, which takes time and a certain level of commitment. Politicians and elected officials notice that. All calls are logged, all emails are read, and if there are enough of them, sometimes they create change. There are various pieces of legislation, including bills related to immigration, intellectual property, gun rights and health care, that have been directly impacted by constituent calls and emails in the last 15 years. It’s an old-fashioned technique, but politics is an old-fashioned business.

When you call or email, express what you want in your own words. Politicians give less credence to people who are reading from online scripts, though there’s nothing wrong with consulting one ahead of time if it’ll help you marshal your thoughts. It should also be noted that politicians have little interest in the opinions of people outside their districts. This is both true and understandable whether a politician’s decision-making is noble (“I should do right by the people who elected me”) or pragmatic (“There’s no sense listening to people who can’t vote against me”). Therefore, be sure to contact people who represent your area, and to make it clear to them that you live in their constituency.

We must engage with our nation’s political processes in order to demand and create change.

Replace your representatives if you need to

The best way to have your representative make decisions you believe in is to elect the right person in the first place. Even if you live in a state where the result of this year’s presidential election seems a foregone conclusion (hello Wyoming, hello New York) there are still other races being more closely contested in local elections: running for office are congresspeople, assemblymen and -women, judges and others who will impact policies that affect Black people in your area.

Choose your own law enforcement

There are numerous law enforcement officials in the US who are voted for directly by the public, including sheriffs, judges and attorney generals. If you vote for a particular prosecutor or judge, you can directly affect how issues like the use of cash bail and the enforcement of low-level offenses — things which disproportionately affect Black people — are handled where you live.

Make your workplace more equitable

While giant corporations line up to donate money to Black causes, it’s legitimate to ask if there’s more they can do. Many of America’s more desirable workplaces are overwhelmingly white, and that is something that can change. You and your colleagues might consider how you can have the greatest impact as individuals and as an organization, whether you work at a startup or a Fortune 500 company.

If you’re in a position of power where you work, consider what you can do to hire more Black people. Should you insist on seeing Black candidates for every position? Should you make sure that entry-level positions pay enough that a person without help from their parents can afford to take them? Perhaps your company could mentor minority youth for careers in your industry. Maybe you could make sure all internships are paid fairly, thus ensuring everybody has an equal chance to get their foot in the door.

If you’re not in a position of power and you don’t do any of the hiring and firing, perhaps you can discuss these topics with the people who do. They may not have considered these issues, and might appreciate somebody raising them in a constructive way. It’s important to remember that racial inequality isn’t just (or even mainly) caused by tiki torch-waving fanatics: It stems from an entrenched system and a status quo that we all have the potential to change, even in small ways. Speaking of which…

Talk to people

Recently a lot has been said about the need for white people to listen and learn. While that’s very important, it’s also not enough. For racial injustice to be addressed, people need to talk about it, and those people can’t all be Black. Issues of race are around all of us all the time, whoever we are — we should be able to talk about them, and ways to fix them. The discussion must be normalized for things to improve. That can be uncomfortable, but if you’re white it’s worth remembering that talking about racism is less uncomfortable than experiencing it.

The same is true of police misconduct. While reasonable people can disagree about how best to reform the police, it does not seem reasonable to pretend that things are fine as they are. Racism and police brutality aren’t just problems for the people who suffer them — they are problems for everybody who wants to live in a fair, civil society. If that includes you (and we hope that it does), it means they are also your responsibility.

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Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

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