It’s Black History Month. And if you’re a friend or ally, it’s often very difficult to know what the right thing to do — or even how to go about doing the right thing. It’s even more confusing when there isn’t consensus or even a general rule of thumb.
I won’t dare to speak for every Black person in the country, but I can offer some suggestions for you:
- Read, listen or watch The 1619 Project, and the countless other books out there that talk about the Black experience, institutionalized racism, slavery and more. If you’re truly down, you need to know how these things impact Black folk on a daily basis.
- If you have Black friends, coworkers that you respect, ask them for their thoughts. And ask without any assumptions or preconceived notions and actually listen — with the understanding that the Black experience isn’t a monolith: A 40 something Black man from Queens will have a completely difference experience than that of a 20 something, who’s a first generation American and on and on.
- Amplify Black voices: If you follow a Black creative or a Black influencer, who you really dig, shout them out. For a small, independent website or a blog, every new click, every new pair of eyeballs can potentially mean a new follower, a new customer. If you have a few bucks to spare, buy art or merch from Black creatives. If they have a Patreon account, donate a few bucks. Every dollar really does matter.
- Today happens to be Bandcamp Friday. Since the worst days of the pandemic, Bandcamp on the first Friday of the month, forgoes their usual cut of proceeds, so that artists receive 100% of proceeds that day. Some artists, then decide to donate that portion or all of their cut to worthy causes they support. Because it’s also the first Friday of Black History Month, you should consider spending your money on Black indie artists you dig.
- Buy Black. Simply put, spend your money with a small Black business, who you really dig.
- Don’t waste your time with these big multinational corporations who will say “Black Lives Matter” or “celebrate” Black History Month, and don’t hire Black talent or sell products made by Black folk. They’re full of shit. And yes, it means you have to get off your ass and do some research when you can.
- Donate to causes that help some of vexing issues of systemic racism.
- With every candidate you consider voting for, look into the causes and issues they support and their thinking behind them. If they’re already in office, look into what bills and projects they voted for and supported.
- Vote for politicians, who are support an anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-ableist, anti-homophobic, anti-transphobic agenda. If you’re able to give money to these politicians, you should. If you can’t, try to volunteer for them — and talk about how that sort of agenda benefits everyone with your family and friends, who will listen.
Of course, there’s always more you can do.
Happy Black History Month y’all!