How to Make a Social Impact for Black Lives Matter
By Polina Pinchevsky | June 25, 2020
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” – Lilla Watson*
I am so moved by these words. I first heard them on a Zoom call with the Movement for Black Lives organizers for Juneteenth celebrations, and I’ve been sitting with their deep resonance since.
So, I educated myself about Juneteenth day and its roots. How is it that I had never learned about Juneteenth, and its American history? Is it because I went to fine art high school and college, where social studies played a second fiddle? Or more likely, is it a bigger problem that the history we learn was written by people in power?
If this resonates with you and you’re looking for some concrete ways to make a change…
Self-Educate and Take a Stand.
You Don’t Know What you Don’t Know. B Lab can help.
General advice is if you are a white person, it’s time to shut up and listen. So I did just that. The gap in my knowledge about Juneteenth led me to obsessively read articles written by the Black intellectuals and historians, and I’ve barely scratched the surface.
Thankfully, The B Corp community has come together and launched a comprehensive resource page. It features curated content about issues facing our country as we work to rectify 400 years of systemic oppression. It’s free and applicable to businesses of all sizes that want to learn and change. But educating myself wasn’t enough. I wanted to speak out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, but how do I, a privileged white woman business owner, find the right words? Learning is critical, but I was plagued by the feeling that silence = complicity.
Take a Public Stand and Sign the We the Change anti-racist statement.
I was grateful when We the Change, a group of female CEOs of B Corp businesses, unveiled our anti-racist statement. It speaks to the heart of who we are and what we believe. We welcome all allies, so please sign-on with us. It is time to follow Black leadership.
The effort was led by two Black members, Diana Marie Lee and Olayinka Credle. It perfectly captures the loving and nurturing spirit of women in our group. Only women would include these words: “We want you to know that we are here for you: ears for listening, shoulders to lean on, and warm arms to provide comfort.”
Radical? Yes! Revolutionary in its attitude and language. Reaching deep into our hearts with these words. Compassion is not a quality typically found in revolutionary writings. By adding my name to this statement, I was no longer silent.
Participate in Protests (even from your own home)
There are protests and activism opportunities across the globe. The best place to start taking action is in your local community. You can search for a local chapter of Black Lives Matter from their website, or search and ask around your community for local opportunities to get involved.
Download a Black Lives Matter Protest Sign
If you’re comfortable protesting (which is not a fit for everyone during a pandemic!), we’ve made a free sign for you to use. If you’re not protesting, you can still participate by putting the sign in your window or on your front door.
Buy Black (personally and professionally)
“…[O]ver the past 30 years, the US has seen a sharp decline in independent Black-owned business, and that Black women in particular face so many obstacles getting their business ventures funded.” (source)
One of the most powerful ways to take action is to invest in Black businesses and #BuyBlack. There are many lists of black-owned businesses: Black Wallet, Esquire, Ellevest, Hello Alice and more. That’s good, AND we can do more. In 2019 Black women-owned businesses earned average revenue of $24,000 per firm, compared to $149,200 among all women-owned businesses (source). I want to see more female entrepreneurs of color raise money, grow their businesses, and succeed wildly. So, RoundPeg is going to do more: invest hard cash in Black-owned businesses, invest resources we have on hand, and give our time and expertise to these female entrepreneurs. We are moving fast, and I hope to share specifics in a few months.
By standing with our Black brothers and sisters, we can achieve liberation for all.
*Lilla Watson, activist, academic, and artist says that this quote is a collective belief born from the activist groups she was a part of. Our common humanity unites us in our struggles and in our achievements. This belief is at the core of our structure and movement at Invisible Children.