6 Simple, Concrete Ways To Help Advance Racial Equality In America

Positive change is well underway—here’s how to help.

The persistent issue of racial inequality in America feels particularly overwhelming in this moment.

In 2016, at least 393 people of color were killed by police officers. People of color continue to be incarcerated at alarmingly disproportionate rates. There are a number of unapologetic white nationalists in the White House, and in a particularly ominous move, the Trump administration deleted all White House website pages on civil rights on inauguration day.

There’s no denying that the problem is vast and complex, and that it’s going to take a whole lot of resources to begin fixing it. But the good news is, the hard work is already well underway. Activists dedicated to the cause of racial equality are making powerful strides toward positive change in all of these arenas.

While there’s no substitute for getting out in the world to lend your support directly, lasting change also requires something that’s quick and easy for anyone feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem to provide: funding.

Here are six simple, concrete ways anyone can help advance racial equality with the power of your wallet:

1. Donate to organizations working for racial justice and equality

One of the most effective things we can do is provide funding to the wide array of organizations that are already doing incredible work to advance racial justice and equality in America.

The Racial Equality Resource Guide has a huge searchable database of grassroots organizations, academic institutions, and national advocacy institutions doing work related to racial equality on a variety of issues and topics. Consider making your donation monthly or annually recurring. If you’re not sure where to start, consider donating to the Mapping Police Violence project, the NAACP, or Black Lives Matter.

2. Shop at minority-owned small businesses

Financial equity is an essential component of equality. Communities of color continue to experience economic hardship at disproportionate rates, but the rate at which minority-owned businesses are being launched has been steadily rising in recent years.

When you’re already out there doing good by shopping small, you can make the positive affects of your conscientious purchases go even further by looking up which small businesses in your community are owned by people of color and actively supporting them. You can also double your impact by referring friends and/or leaving a positive Yelp review.

3. Boycott companies that profit from the private prison industrial complex

More than 60% of people in our prisons are people of color. The US represents just 5% of the World population, but has 25% of world’s prisoners, thanks in large part to the economic incentives involved in the privatization of prisons—and Trump has already rescinded Obama’s order that would have phased out the use of private prisons. Many corporations profit from prison labor and/or investments in private prisons. Make it your business to know which ones they are.

Boycotting can be a powerful tool, but it’s also critical to make your decision to boycott as widely known as possible. So in addition to withholding your cash, be sure to let the company know why you’re doing so and shout it from the rooftops (or, you know, Twitter), that even if we can’t rely on the U.S. government to enforce ethical business practices, consumers are still going to demand it.

4. Support local community empowerment initiatives

This is a great way to expand on what you’re already doing through item one on this list. It’s likely that wherever you live, there are a variety of smaller programs aimed at strengthening local communities of color by improving food security, providing support for immigrants and refugees, developing after school programs focused on the arts or STEM, fostering equal opportunities in employment, and connecting people to valuable resources for success.

Seek them out online, connect with them to express your support, and donate — and encourage others to donate, too.

5. Help candidates of color get elected

Fair and equal representation in government is another critical element of equality. Currently, 90% of elected officials in the U.S. are white. If there are candidates of color running in your local or municipal elections whose policies we agree with, we can help improve this ratio by doing more than just showing up to vote for them. We can vocalize our support, help get out the vote, and donate to their campaigns to triple our impact.

6. Support companies that prioritize diversity

The racial wage gap continues to persist despite some recent progress. While many large corporations pay lip service to diversity, there’s still a major lack of people of color in corporate leadership roles.

We can help change this by actively supporting businesses that are doing their part to change that—and letting them know that we’re spending our money with them because we recognize and appreciate their efforts.

We created the Nudge for Change app to make it easier than ever to put your money where your beliefs are when it comes to issues like racial equality.

The app will alert you if you’re about to spend your hard-earned cash in a way that doesn’t align with your core political values, and nudge you toward nearby alternatives you can feel good about supporting. It’s like having a backup for your moral compass on your phone.

Nudge for Change is available for iOS. An Android version is coming soon.

Money is power. Wield yours wisely.