For over a week, people have responded to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey, and the many other Black and brown people who’ve died at the hands of the police. From attending nationwide protests to donating to bail funds, investing in Black-owned businesses and sharing online resources that educate white and non-Black people on systemic racism, people who have long-been fighting for racial equality and people new to the cause are finding ways to support racial justice.
But this fight will be ongoing, not just a quick online trend. While making public declarations denouncing racism and engaging in actionable items is important in the moment, working to create a more just society should be a lasting habit. From consistently educating our children on white privilege and racism, to regularly investing in organizations that work to support and elevate Black and brown communities, to celebrating Black joy and making the internal work of examining our own biases and privileges a common practice, working to end police brutality and racial injustice should continue long after the trending hashtags disappear.
Here are a few ways you can make anti-racism a homogeneous part of you and your family’s life. It’s not about “getting it right” immediately, or doing a life-time’s worth of work in a week. It’s about making the effort to establish patterns that will be as long-lasting as they are impactful.
Making your monetary donations recurring
One-time donations to organizations that support racial justice and the Black Lives Matter organization and movement — like the The National Bail Fund Network, Color of Change, or The Black Visions Collective — are helpful, but making your donations recurring helps ensure those organizations can continue to operate in the future.
Incorporate Black art into your TV, book, and music collection
Being anti-racist doesn’t mean simply “showing up” when the Black community is reeling from a harrowing loss, or only engaging with Black and brown people when trauma has occurred. It means incorporating Black stories, narratives, art, and images into your daily life. Book Riot has compiled a list of children’s books with Black authors, Oprah Magazine offers a collection of Black TV shows to add to your must-watch list, and Essence offers a round-up of Black podcasts to add to your (let’s face it, probably true-crime-related) rotation.
Create an anti-racist reading list & constantly expand on it
It’s impossible to fit decades of information, knowledge, and expertise into a week, a month, a year, even a lifetime. In fact, it would be a disservice to the resources made available by Black and brown people. So create an anti-racist reading list — like this one created by The Guardian — and commit to expanding on it. There are hundreds of years of research, memoirs, workshops, studies, and position papers that can help keep us all from becoming complacent in the comfort of our white and/or white-passing privilege.
Support Black and brown candidates in local, state, and federal elections
Ensuring systemic racism isn’t perpetuated by political policies and passed laws means donating to, advocating for, and voting politicians into office who better represent the diversity of the United States. In 2014, white men made up 31% of the US population but held 65% of all elected offices. And while that statistic has improved over time, Black and brown people are still lacking equal representation in positions of political power.
2018, the most racially and ethnically diverse Congress was voted into power. As a result, the House passed progressive policies, like the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, the Climate Action Now Act, and the Paycheck Fairness Act. Unfortunately, none of those laws were passed in the GOP-controlled Senate (currently, there are only three Black people serving as U.S. Senators).
Make the fight to end voter suppression part of your political engagement
While urging people to vote is helpful in theory, for Black and brown voters subject to deliberate attempts at voter suppression — be it voter ID laws, mass purges of voter rolls, and gerrymandering — calls to “go vote!” can come with insurmountable barriers for many voters of color.
What you can do: Donate and support organizations that are working to end voter suppression in all its forms, including Let America Vote, Common Cause, and the League of Women Voters. Then put pressure on your elected officials to make voting day a national holiday, so those who work outside the home do not have to worry about missing a day’s worth of wages or losing their jobs in order to exercise their constitutional right to be heard at the voting booth.
Shop at Black-owned businesses and restaurants
Research Black-owned businesses and restaurants in your area, then add them to your favorite go-to spots for grocery shopping, car repairs, or a night of take-out. Investments in women- and minority-owned businesses are 80% lower than investments in businesses overall, as reported by Forbes, and many Black-owned businesses have been unable or have had difficulty accessing COVID-19 relief. Vix has compiled a list of apps that can help you locate Black-owned business in your area, so you can patronize them now and in the future.
Work to identify covert acts of white supremacy
Overt racism is easy to identify and, because it’s pretty much universally condemned, easy to speak out against. Someone acts racist in a way that’s readily visible and it’s simple to point out and decry. But there are covert acts that are socially acceptable, and therefore easier for those in positions of privilege to ignore. Examples include, claiming “reverse racism,” touting “colorblindness,” centering whiteness, and cultural appropriation, just to name a few. The College of Social Justice provides an easy-to-read pyramid separating overt and covert white supremacy, and what constitutes each.
Stop ignoring or excusing covert acts of racism among family and friends
You know the moments: the jokes from that drunk, slightly-racist uncle or a racially insensitive cousin or the “out of touch” words your mom uses when talking about people of color, or the implications behind your dad’s commentary when watching the news at night. In so many white families, we make excuses for covert acts of — it’s okay to say it — internalized racism and white supremacy because “that’s just how they are” or “we don’t talk politics with family.”
Here’s what you can do: start talking politics with your family. Make these conversations the norm, and work to rid yourself and others of the idea that they’re “toxic” or harmful. They’re necessary. No, they won’t always be pleasant — and in some cases it isn’t always productive to engage with these family members (in which case, experts suggest you remove them from your life) — but challenging racist notions and beliefs among white or white-passing friends and family members sets a standard that, hopefully, those in your inner circle will follow.
Talk to your children (if you have any) about race and racism
While it’s common to view these conversations as “hard” and to feel a need to protect your child from the realities of racism and systemic injustice in this country, doing so only adds to a culture of ignorance that allows racism to thrive. There are a number of resources for parents to talk to their children about race, and in age-appropriate ways, that can be incorporated into their educational and recreational reading and television viewing. (And of course, making sure your child’s media consumption is diverse and includes Black and brown characters, heroes, and stories is another way to make inclusivity and diversity the norm in your home.)
Work on being OK with feeling uncomfortable & making mistakes
You are not expected to be perfect. Not as a business person, not as a partner, not as a mother, and not as someone working to support lasting racial justice. But if you’re just learning about these issues and have been protected by white privilege, ongoing discussions and internal examinations of implicit and explicit biases can be painful and uncomfortable. You are bound to make mistakes — that is OK. What will make your support of racial injustice long-lasting is learning to sit in those mistakes, examine the ways in which you could do better, then adjusting accordingly so you can take those lessons into the future.