For a lot of people, it’s been a long three weeks of reckoning with the inherent injustice built into the framework of our nation. For some of us, it’s been a long life. My name is Brianna Porter, I’m a Senior Editor, and I’m a black woman. Over the last few weeks a lot of people, including Susan, have reached out to me asking what they can do to help. The In The Groove team had a series of conversations about what we can do as a company to make racial justice and equality a more active part of our work. After all, if an age-defying white woman feels invisible to the rest of society, an age-defying black woman often feels unseen and unheard by that same white woman.
In The Groove is a place that has always actively tried to bridge the gap. In the past, that’s meant the generational gap. This week, it means the racial one. I don’t claim to be an expert on prison abolition or race theory, but I have spent a lifetime navigating being the only black person in a room. We need your help. We can’t do it without you.
An ally is someone who has privilege, but chooses to stand with and work for marginalized and oppressed communities. It requires work, time, and compassion. I know you all are up for the job. Below, a guide to being the best ally you can be. From direct action to donating, there are so many ways you can incorporate being a better ally into everyday actions.
Race is not an easy thing to talk about, but it should be easy to say that Black Lives Matter. After all, black lives mattering is the minimum. Black lives should be cherished, loved, and championed. Black lives should be protected and respected. And I hope black lives can count on you to help make that a reality.
Acknowledge Your Privilege
This is a hard step for some people. White privilege does not mean that your life hasn’t been hard. It just means that your life would be even harder if you didn’t have the social, political, and cultural safety nets this country grants white people. Know that many of you live in neighborhoods that are not policed in the same way other neighborhoods are, and even have private security.
There’s going to be a little voice in your head telling you that you aren’t racist, so none of this applies to you. Ignore that voice. Make yourself listen to what the black people around you are saying at this moment, and reflect.
Take Direct Action
Yes, it’s important to vote in November. But it’s not just about voting. After all, Minnesota is a state with blue leadership, and they were still going to let the officers who murdered George Floyd walk free.
Take some time to call the senators, governors, and attorney generals in states where the murders occur and demand justice. When you’re done calling them, email them. When you’re done emailing them, write letters.
Call your city council members and demand they decrease the police budget. Did you know that the Los Angeles Police Department receives 54% of our city’s budget? That’s 3 BILLION dollars. That’s money that could be spent on issues that communities need help with: homelessness, low-income housing, public transportation, and education. Crime is a result of social issues and poverty. If cities take the time and spend the money to address the root causes, we wouldn’t need as much policing.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is open your wallet. According to Urban Institute calculations from Survey of Consumer Finances, in 2106, the average wealth of a white family was $171,000. The average wealth of a black family was $17,000.
Set up a monthly donation to the NAACP Legal Fund or the ACLU, which are respected, historic institutions. Color of Change and Erase Racism are also great grassroots options. Donate to the GoFundMes of victim’s families, who need to hire lawyers and pay for funerals as they try to get justice.
Or do a little bit of research and see if there are small, grassroots organizations that need help in your city.
There is a whole new language you need to learn to discuss racial equality. Do not ask the black person in your life to explain it to you. Take it upon yourself to do a little research. Luckily, there are a lot of black people who have been doing this work for a very long time. They are smarter and more eloquent than I’ll ever be, and you should buy their books, watch their movies, listen to their podcasts.
The New York Public Library has a wonderful Black Liberation Reading List you can read here. It covers fiction, non-fiction, essays, and even poetry. If you’re looking for something even more contemporary, this is a list of books coming out in the next few months by incredibly talented black writers. Pre-ordering is such an important part of publishing, and you can support the authors. And when you buy these books, buy them from black owned bookstores instead of Amazon. Here is a list of 47 black-owned bookstores you can order online from, organized by state.
If you’re more of a documentaries and podcast person, this NPR list is a great starting point. But remember, learning about it is only that: a starting point. It is up to you to remain engaged in these issues, even when it’s no longer trending on Instagram.
Support Black Businesses
Black people are the creators of one of the country’s largest exports: American culture. Almost every major musical genre was created by black people. Fashion trends, from zoot suits to streetwear, have been taken from black creativity and repackaged by and for white people to enjoy and consume. Even the way we talk has been more influenced by black people than anyone else.
And yet, time and time again, black people have not been compensated fairly. In the middle of a COVID-19 pandemic that is disproportionately infecting and killing black people in America, many are also facing the loss of their business. When the Paycheck Protection Program was rolled out to aid business owners, one survey showed only 12% of African-American and Latin business owners received the money they were asking for.
So, it’s time to make an effort to start buying from black businesses. We’re going to make it easier for you. In the Groove is going to start featuring black-owned businesses we know and love in our emails. So that you can grow to know and love them, too.