As working women, we inherently understand the systemic sexism that exists in the world. There are grandmothers, still alive today, who needed their husband’s permission to have a credit card. Female figures make up only 1% of history books. And, perhaps this is in your experience as well, many men in my life are aware that sexism exists but believe it’s now only subtle and subconscious. When something doesn’t affect you personally, it is easy to dismiss or be ignorant of the real ramifications for others. They believe that as long as they themselves are not harming women with sexist behavior, they see no reason to proactively support women; thus, allowing the systematic unseen barriers to continue.
Gender parity in the workforce will be achieved much faster when men take a proactive approach to support their female peers without us having to ask them to do it first.
If you believe this statement to be true, then consider asking if you in turn are doing enough to combat racism. As a white woman, I knew racism existed, but it never affected me personally and never saw the need to actively try correcting it. That bitter dose of reality hit the nation this summer with the Breonna Taylor and George Floyd protests, reigniting the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement from five years ago after Eric Garner was choked to death during an arrest for selling cigarettes on the sidewalk without a permit.
It is not enough to be “not racist” in a nation built on the backs of the Black community. I’m learning to be an anti-racist ally. Women Belong is currently a predominantly white group of professional women. If my fellow white women are willing to start the anti-racism journey, consider wielding your power the best way we know how: the power of our dollar.
Maggie Anderson of Chicago has a riveting TEDx Talk about the state of black entrepreneurship in America. I recommend watching it before perusing a list of black-owned businesses that you can shop at.
Charitable contributions are short-lived, but serve as immediate ways to assist organizations fighting racism and uplifting Black communities. Aligned Giving has sources of key nonprofits working to bring racial justice and racial equity to America.
Keep a checking/savings account at a Black-owned bank or institution known for widely supporting communities of color. Better Banking Options has a search function called “Bank Black” to locate a better bank. In the era of online/mobile banking, you can choose to bank nearly anywhere in the US. Your savings are leveraged by these banks to channel more money into the local infrastructure, providing small business loans and technical assistance, mortgage loans, and personal loans at fair rates that bolster the economy of often under-served communities. Otherwise, far too often, low-income community members turn to predatory payday lending options to get by and end up paying fees and interest rates that grossly exceed the original loan’s principal.
Socially responsible investing options, particularly targeted for uplifting communities of color, exist for every type of investor in nearly every asset class imagine-able. Certificates of deposit, mutual funds, or private equity. If you don’t have a financial advisor and want to get started investing conscientiously, email me.
Racial equity and racial justice are large goals with long-term horizons. Understandably, becoming an ally can feel overwhelming in the beginning and asking your POC family, friend, or neighbor can be exhausting for them during these stressful times coupled by the pandemic. Natural Investments created a resource page in response to this problem for those who want guidance on where to begin. Visit the Black Economic Liberation page to begin your journey in peacefully revolutionizing systemic injustice.
Photo credit: Lerone Pieters
Content provided by Women Belong member Sylvia Panek