U.S. HISTORY | BLACK HISTORY MONTH
How To Celebrate Black History Month As A White Person
You can do more than recycle a BLM post on Instagram.
Educate Yourself About Black History
Do some research to gain a better understanding of just how important and integral African Americans have been throughout US History.
Commit to learning things you didn’t know or maybe took for granted by picking up books – both fiction and nonfiction – or watching films that highlight the contributions of people of color. Reading stories, essays, and interviews from those directly affected by racism will help move the conversation forward.
Make sure to access a variety of sources. This includes reading mainstream books but also learning from the perspectives of black authors, scholars, and historians. Podcasts are another great way to glean knowledge that isn’t taught in school.
Additionally, use this month as an opportunity to support and celebrate family members and friends who continue the legacies of black greatness at the local level.
Advocate for Policy Changes
Stand up for justice by advocating for policy change. Write a letter to or reach out to your local, state, and federal representatives in support of new legislation that can create meaningful change.
You can also actively use your voice to support existing legislative efforts that aim to end racism, like the Black Economic Empowerment Act. When it comes down to it, speaking up on behalf of those who are directly affected matters. Don’t let anyone’s voice be ignored.
According to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), “The LDF is dedicated to promoting racial justice through advocacy, litigation, and education. Work in all three spheres is necessary for an equitable society free from discrimination.
Through our advocacy efforts, we aim to achieve reforms that will make communities safe from police misconduct and discrimination; work to eradicate the death penalty through educating people about its failures; promote economic justice by combating employment discrimination; seek solutions to mass incarceration of black communities; fight against restrictive voter ID laws that deprive citizens of their right to vote; protect pregnant women’s civil rights in the workplace, and much more.”
As a part of Black History Month, you can use your voice to drive action alongside the LDF.
Invest in Black Businesses Whenever possible
Investing in businesses run by people of color is an important way to support the Black community. According to a Nielsen study, the collective buying power of African-Americans was $1.3 trillion great in 2018, but only 2% of venture capital goes—and goes in disproportionately low amounts—to entrepreneurs of color.
When possible be sure to check sources like BlackPages BizDirectory and First Round Capital’s list of Black VCs to find companies and investors who are focused on investing in diverse founders.
Understanding the buying power of African-Americans and where it is directed is key to creating greater parity within the economy.
Money has a major impact on how individuals are able to shape their lives, so diversifying our dollars and where they are going is an important way to help empower generations of African-Americans and other people of color.
Investing in Black businesses whenever possible can create opportunity that hasn’t been previously existent, which will have lasting positive impacts.
Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
The best way to learn and grow is to get outside of your comfort zone. Seek out stories, conversations, and experiences that may be uncomfortable but also incredibly educational, like attending a panel to talk about diversity in entrepreneurship or enrolling in online classes about race, inclusion, history and allyship.
It’s important for everyone—but especially white people—to work through their blind spots and biases around race.
By committing to educating yourself about the Black experience and “getting comfortable being uncomfortable”, you will be able to move forward with a greater understanding not just of those around you from different backgrounds, but also of yourself.
It requires more than personal exploration; it’s about actively doing something—learning, donating to organizations that fight for racial justice, protesting in support of the cause—and making sure you’re doing your part to help drive civil rights and a better future for everyone.
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