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Question: How can I use my wallet to support racial justice?
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want,” said Anna Lappe, the educator and activist.
At the time, she was speaking about sustainability and supporting the environment, but it’s become a refrain for anyone interested in conscious consumerism — and in current times, that includes supporting equality movements and racial justice. Your wallet can be a powerful weapon in the fight against racism.
Spending your money in line with your values doesn’t necessitate spending more money than usual. Though it may mean changing a few habits, like where you shop or what you watch, there is no need to break the bank. You can spend mindfully and keep within your budget.
Here are five ways to use your wallet to support racial justice.
Buy from black and minority-run businesses
Economic empowerment is the best route to long-lasting social change — and the call to support black enterprises has never been louder or easier.
With resources like It’s Black Owned (listing black lifestyle brands), Amaliah (a magazine and network for Muslim women) Jamii (the discount card for black British brands) and UKBOB’s The Black Book (a one-stop directory for black-owned businesses in the UK), there’s really no excuse to not shop from diverse businesses. The editors over at The Strategist UK, have also created a list of 75 black-owned businesses across home décor, food, beauty and clothing.
Buying from black businesses supports the people running them and their communities. It also helps to undermine the harmful stereotypes that still abound about race and supports further entrepreneurship and ownership.
The Harvard Business Review recently published an article that said less than 1% of VC money goes to black entrepreneurs. This is the same in the UK, despite the fact that research from the Economic and Social Research Council shows that “businesses run by Black and minority ethnic (BME) entrepreneurs are estimated to contribute between £25-£32 billion pounds per year to the British economy”. There are efforts to change this with initiatives like Diversity VC and Impact X, but there’s so much more to be done to ensure that diverse businesses are founded, supported, and grown.
On an individual level, we can all look at ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) funds to help support better equality. However, what we may need to do is speak to our investment platform about recognising ethnic diversity in businesses in the same way that many now consider gender. Currently, many ESG funds look at gender equality by focusing on businesses with a certain percentage of women on the board — but this isn’t the case when it comes to race. This needs to change.
If you’re interested in how and why investing in black founders is so essential, the UK Business Angels Association is hosting an event on the 1st July 2020. Find out more here.
Donate to causes
Since the murder of George Floyd in the USA, there have been many and myriad links to different funds and causes that support the Black Lives Matter movement around the world.
It can feel overwhelming, but supporting the incredible anti-racism organisations and charities is vital. Setting up a monthly donation can help keep the momentum of change going. From Black Pride to Black Minds Matter, Crisis Funding for Inclusive Publishers to Show Racism The Red Card — there are so many fantastic initiatives and non-profits to donate to, if you can.
There are also great initiatives where people who can’t donate, can watch monetised videos on YouTube where 100% of the revenue goes to black causes. These videos often feature black artists, poets, musicians and businesses. Check it out here.
Watch, read, listen and support
Self-educating is one of the most important things you can do as an anti-racist — but learning can take many forms, even Netflix and chill.
You can support equality by watching documentaries and shows starring black and minority ethnic people, that are written, directed, or produced by black or minority ethnic people, and that tell the stories of black and minority ethnic people. Engaging with these programmes, sharing them, rating them — all of it means that more diverse actors, writers, creatives and teams will be hired, lauded, and financially rewarded. It will mean more stories are told and more experiences recognised, slowly making sure society becomes more inclusive.
The same goes for buying books by black or minority ethnic writers or poetry or art or music or podcasts. You can lie in your garden next to the sprinkler, reading the latest beach romance and still be supporting racial equality and justice as every purchase contributes to the success of the writer.
Pay attention to brands
Finally, we all have our favourite brands — whether that’s for fashion, beauty, travel, or our money. With the resources available through the internet and smart technology, we can all stay aware of what those brands are doing to support equality and diversity.
If they’re posting black squares or supportive messages, we can hold them to account by proactively checking their Inclusion and Diversity manifestos or CSR policies. If they’re staying quiet and doing nothing at all, you may want to ask them why. And if a company is saying one thing and acting another, you may decide that your money is better spent with a brand that aligns more closely to your values.
Of course, this should not be about cancel culture or even call-out culture — it’s about everyone working together to create a fairer society. Spending money with the businesses and companies that are proactively trying to make things better is a strong way to empower change with your wallet.
Keep an eye out — more questions and answers coming each week! In the meantime, submit your question here and we’ll make sure to respond.
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