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Racial Injustice Has Changed How Nonprofits Operate for Social Impact

Recently, many nonprofits have adjusted their operations as a response to racial injustice so they can maximize their organizations' social impact.​​​​​​​
By Jenna Tsui
Racial Injustice

The United States has a long history of racial injustice. More people have become acutely aware of that unfortunate reality due to the recent deaths of people of color at the hands of law enforcement officers. Those atrocities capture the headlines and inspire individuals and businesses to do whatever they can to help. Relatedly, many nonprofits have adjusted their operations to ensure that they maximize their work's social impact.

A nonprofit spotlights how people can apply their skills for the cause

Many people who are eager to use their skills to help others initially feel frustrated because they don't know how to start and are unsure how to get in touch with the right resources. One nonprofit, Common Impact, specializes in encouraging skills-based volunteerism. Its representatives recently published a report showing how the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted several chances to volunteer.

However, the organization's research revealed that the health crisis brought about new ways to get involved, including those associated with racial injustice. One of the report's suggestions was for organizations to set up tables at outdoor protests and encourage people of color to register to vote. Change comes about in numerous ways, but many activists assert that using a vote is one of the most influential and enduring ways to cause it.

The report also mentions how social media expertise is especially valuable as social unrest and the coronavirus pandemic continue. A person may feel passionate about supporting the Black Lives Matter movement but cannot safely leave their homes because of a compromised immune system. Nevertheless, they could still set up internet campaigns, publish online content or organize support for bail funds.

Common Impact's example illustrates how nonprofits can play critical roles in spotlighting the options for people to apply their talents and abilities to spur the social justice movement. Once people know the specific ways they could get involved, many feel more empowered to respond proactively to the economic and social aspects of our current times.

Nonprofits work to address links between racial injustice and health disparities

The COVID-19 crisis arguably affects everyone to some extent. However, researchers looked at the early weeks of the pandemic and uncovered some disturbing trends. They found that poorer areas had more cases in the early periods of COVID-19 and that the death rate was higher for relatively less wealthy counties.

Research published elsewhere indicated that Black and Latinos in the United States are three times as likely to get infected and nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 compared to white individuals. Numerous factors could cause those outcomes, but access to health care and testing are two that analysts mention frequently.

Moreover, if a person perceives that the process for getting a test is too cumbersome, they may assume they just have a cold or the flu and go about their lives, hoping the symptoms don't worsen. The trouble is that such an approach can quickly spread the virus throughout communities. Fortunately, advances in testing mean that some kits provide presumptive COVID-19 diagnoses in 15 minutes.

Nonprofits responded by offering complimentary COVID-19 tests to the Black community. A Portland, Oregon, organization called Self Enhancement, Inc. expanded its existing services to Black community members by providing free tests no matter if people had symptoms. Efforts like these can help reduce the barriers that could otherwise cause a person to avoid getting screened.

In Michigan, a local health department joined two other organizations, including a housing nonprofit, to offer free COVID-19 testing days. Vincent Thurman, communications manager for one of the nonprofits involved, said, "The data shows that Black and brown communities are at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19, and we are happy to have free testing available to residents in our neighborhoods."

Collaborative efforts draw attention to Black voices

As protests gained momentum in the United States and worldwide, people realized they needed to focus on getting more racial injustice education to better understand what's at stake. Fortunately, the best way to do that is to get the firsthand perspectives of Black citizens. Plenty of high-quality articles and podcasts exist for people to explore.

Nonprofits teamed up with activists to offer Black individuals louder voices, too. To that end, one organization, Oklahoma Murals Syndicate,  creates and advocates for public art in Oklahoma. Recently, the group joined activist and hip-hop artist Jabee Williams for the With Love Project. It continues to promote the voices of people of color through mural projects.

Further, the organization and artist developed several projects that give people of color a larger platform through art. Members of the public also have opportunities to watch the creators at work. Then, in early October, the artists will debut their work, complete with a live concert and tasty fare from local food vendors.

How can you support racial equality?

The racial injustice issue is so massive that you may feel overwhelmed by wondering how to help. One excellent thing to do is to prioritize purchasing from Black-owned businesses. Many of them have been hit hard lately and find that government aid, if they can even secure it, is not adequate enough for them to recover.

It's also vital to offer your resources to the dedicated nonprofits that encounter challenges every day and work to overcome them. Besides learning more about the organizations mentioned here, search for those in your area. Consider donating to them or volunteering your time.

If you get involved as someone who is not a person of color, understand that it's crucial you listen and follow the lead of those with personal experiences of racial injustice. Now is not the time to make assumptions.

​​​​​​​Turning empathy into action

As you focus on educating yourself on racial injustice and start to grasp the deep-seated, incredibly widespread nature of such unequal treatment, you'll likely feel a huge assortment of emotions — anger, sadness and despair, to name a few. It's natural and expected to empathize with people who face extra difficulties because of their skin color. But thanks to the examples here, you can turn strong feelings into productive and meaningful responses.

Image credit: Nathan Dumlao/Unsplash

Jenna Tsui headshot

Jenna Tsui is a technology journalist who covers the latest news in technology, disruptive tech, and environmental science. You can read more of her work at The Byte Beat.

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