It’s dangerous to be Black in America. The killing of Breonna Taylor, who was shot by police in her own home, the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery by white men while he was out for a jog, and the police killing of George Floyd inspired protests across the nation.
As a white woman, I’ve been struggling to respond in a way that feels adequate. Every time I begin to draft my thoughts, I can’t help but feel like my words fall flat and hollow against the gravity of the situation. So many people of color have addressed Floyd’s murder and the subsequent protests with an insight I could never match.
But I’m learning that my words don’t have to be eloquent, only earnest. It’s my responsibility to speak out. And one of the loudest statements we can make is by choosing where to put our money.
If you want to support the Black community in the struggle against police brutality and discrimination, here are a few ways you can financially contribute.
1. Help out a victim’s family.
To make an immediate impact in the lives of Black Americans affected by police brutality, consider donating to victims’ families so they’re able to afford the costs associated with the funeral, court proceedings, grief counseling and more.
The Official George Floyd Memorial Fund on GoFundMe has already raised a whopping $9.5 million for Floyd’s family. In addition to covering expenses like those outlined above, a portion will also go to the Estate of George Floyd for the benefit and care of his children and their educational fund.
But remember, Floyd is one in a long list of Black Americans to have recently been killed by police. And the sad reality is that he is not the last. In a recent post on supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, Daniella Flores of the blog I Like To Dabble suggested searching victim’s names on GoFundMe to find funds set up by their families. She noted that the site has guidelines for determining whether it’s safe to donate to a particular campaign.
“Also, look on Instagram and Twitter to see if there are any family members or friends of victims sharing links to their GoFundMe campaigns. You can search hashtags like #blacklivesmatter #georgefloyd #justiceforgeorgefloyd or any of the victim’s hashtags,” she wrote.
You can also search for protesters who are injured in clashes with police and may need help with medical bills.
2. Contribute to organizations that promote equality and social justice.
It’s also important to shift your philanthropy practices and invest in Black organizations and causes ― “not just organizations for black people, but organizations led by black people,” said Dasha Kennedy, a financial activist for Black women and the creator of The Broke Black Girl.
In addition to your money, you can also invest your time, skills, labor and connections, she added.
Below are a few options you can consider (HuffPost’s parent company, Verizon, recently committed $10 million in aid to these organizations):
The National Urban League: A civil rights and urban advocacy organization dedicated to economic empowerment, equality and social justice. The group provides direct services to more than 2 million people across the country.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: Founded in 1909, the mission of the NAACP is to “secure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.”
National Action Network: This civil rights organization was founded in 1991 by Reverend Al Sharpton and “works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda.”
Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights: This is the nation’s oldest, largest and most diverse civil rights coalition, which includes more than 200 national organizations whose mission is to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all people.
Rainbow Push Coalition: This organization was formed in 1996 by Reverend Jesse L. Jackson Sr. when he merged his two existing organizations: People United to Serve Humanity (PUSH) and the Rainbow Coalition. Today, the Rainbow Push Coalition works to “protect, defend, and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields, and to promote peace and justice around the world.”
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation: The NCBCP is a non-profit, non-partisan civic engagement organization dedicated to Black and underserved communities.
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund: This non-profit organization, which now operates independently of the NAACP, is primarily focused on the civil rights of African Americans in the U.S.
3. Donate to community bail funds.
It’s no secret that the U.S. criminal justice system disproportionately targets people of color. Black people are 13% of the population but incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites. In five states, including Minnesota, where Floyd was killed, the ratio of Black to white incarcerated people is more than 10 to 1. And the cash bail system, which allows defendants awaiting trial to buy their way out of jail, only reinforces that discrimination with a pay-to-play system.
Bail funds are local, charitable, volunteer-driven collections that help pay bail for those who can’t afford it, including protesters. For example, one of the most high profile bail funds right now is the Minnesota Freedom Fund, which received $20 million in donations in a matter of days following Floyd’s death.
If you’d like to help keep Black people and their allies out of jail, especially those who are protesting police brutality, consider donating to a community bail fund. There are several comprehensive bail fund directories online, which are being updated regularly. You can also check Twitter for a crowdsourced list of local organizations that help bail out protesters who get arrested, as well as this growing Google Doc.
4. Hold law enforcement accountable.
Last year, more than 1,000 people were killed by police. Black people accounted for a disproportionate one-quarter of those deaths. And right now, the country is exploding with grief and anger over the death of Floyd and countless other Black men and women who have been harmed by law enforcement. Change won’t happen unless law enforcement is held accountable for its actions, and money is a huge factor in making that happen.
Advocates recommend supporting the nonprofit National Police Accountability Project, which was established by the National Lawyers Guild and works to “protect the human and civil rights of individuals in their encounters with law enforcement and detention facility personnel.”
Campaign Zero is a police reform group that focuses on limiting police interventions, improving community interactions and ensuring accountability.
5. Buy from Black-owned businesses.
The typical Black family has only 10 cents for every dollar held by the typical white family, according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finance. Though the factors contributing to this wealth gap are many, one way you can make a direct impact on the financial lives of Black Americans is by prioritizing Black-owned businesses over big-box retailers.
“As minorities, we struggle with gaining access to capital, lack of resources and support,” Kennedy said. “Supporting a black-owned business supports a black family, which in turn supports an entire economy. That is the ONLY way there will be a shift in the economic development in our country and close the wealth gap.”
From restaurants to apparel, there are plenty of ways to support Black businesses.
6. Help fund the campaigns of Black political leaders.
One of the best ways to ensure Black voices are heard and that necessary policy changes are made is by putting Black people in positions of power. But campaigning often requires a significant financial investment, and one recent report found that only a few Black political leaders were able to fund their own campaigns.
“Simply put, you have to be able to raise enough money to fund your campaign to get your message out to the people,” Kennedy said. “Without proper funding, Black political leaders are unable to have a successful campaign and a fair chance at having a political position in their community.” To help elect more Black Americans, consider donating to their campaigns.
7. Support Black voices.
Allies should be doing the listening, not the talking. By supporting Black voices and representation in the media, we gain empathy, insight and understanding directly from the people most qualified to tell their stories.
Consider donating to organizations such as the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Newspapers Publishers Association Foundation, which are dedicated to providing the resources and platforms to make the Black perspective heard. And keep in mind that it’s particularly exhausting to be a Black journalist right now. Funds have been established to support Black reporters’ mental health, including the Black Journalists Therapy Relief Fund.