As a black woman who is a strong supporter of intersectional feminism, one of the questions I have been asked since the election is “What can I do? How can I help?”
While it is (genuinely) great that so many of my friends and acquaintances want to help promote the cause of racial equity in our country, it can be daunting to have to point them in the right direction all of the time. I don’t want to seem like I’m sitting there with steam coming out of my ears because that’s not the case either, but it’s also not like I keep a list of worthwhile causes or movements that need attention in my back pocket. I’m going to have to look it up or ask someone else for recommendations.
Realistically, you can look it up yourselves. It’s easy to do the research first, and then ask me for clarification or more details as it pertains to my lived experiences as a WOC. If I’m unsure, or unable to answer in a way that makes me feel comfortable, I am happy to point you in the direction of someone who knows better than I do. This way, I’m not feeling put on the spot, or being asked to do work on your behalf, and you’re getting the most accurate information.
For people who are genuinely committed to the cause, but are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, I would point you directly to the Safety Pin Box.
The monthly subscription box was started by two black women, Marissa Jenae Johnson and Leslie Mac in response to the Safety Pin Movement that swept the nation post-election of No. 45. Many people of color felt that the Safety Pin Movement was completely disingenuous; it was more a way for white allies to feel better and soothe their own guilt than to actually take action, and do anything of substance.
So, Johnson and Mac, who have roots in black activism, decided to start a monthly subscription box for “white people who want to consistently contribute to Black liberation financially while doing measurable support work for the movement and learning what it takes to dismantle white supremacy. Safety Pin Box encourages white people to take initiative in contributing to the movement for Black lives, while getting guidance and educational resources from Black women,” according to their website.
Safety Pin Box is made by black women to support other black women. The proceeds made through the SPB each month are given to Black Women Being; it gives cash donations to individual black women who are working toward the liberation of black people, but not receiving the financial support they need to truly further their cause. Black women who work for the liberation of black people in any capacity are encouraged to apply. Each month, a woman is chosen at random to receive the money. This is the work that your subscription fee will be funding. This has to be more enticing that travel-sized bottles of eye cream. I hope.
There are different subscription levels ($25, $50, $100) that include monthly tasks (used for allies to learn more about specific subjects and key historical figures), exclusive “calls to action,” and access to an exclusive Facebook group specifically for subscribers (intended to further discussion, share research, ask questions, etc).
Each level has different perks as well. “Each box has a different theme and tasks accordingly; December was ‘Radical Compassion.’ One of our tasks that month was showing compassion for black elderly people, so we had subscribers look at the lifetime outcomes of the black elderly in their community versus their white counterparts,” Johnson explained in an interview with The Cut. Aimed to push white allies outside of their comfort zones, the tasks are the most crucial part of this service. It gives direction and focus where it is needed, and forces allies to confront their preconceived notions of marginalized people.
Since I’m not their target demographic, I reached out to a friend who is a subscriber about her motivation to do so. “I want do something. This was a great way to get involved, and also, I feel extremely good about where my money is going. There’s lots of pushes to donate to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, which is important, but I think nonprofits also have their own hierarchies so I wanted to give to black women especially,” she explained.
When I asked her why she felt the need to give specifically to black women, she told me that she owes much of what she knows about activism to black women. She also explained that she has been able to meet up with other subscribers and has taken part in some of the calls to action that were local to her. She’s putting her money where her mouth is.
When asked about the target audience of SPB, Johnson explained to The Cut that “[their] target customer is the one who understands that race is a problem, feels like they can’t sit on the sidelines anymore, and doesn’t know where to begin.” It is critically important in times like these that white folks who feel the call to action, and progress, seek out the outlets to do so. If this feels like something you want to be involved in, I encourage you to subscribe. Push yourselves past the hand-wringing inaction. Stop relying on POC to do the work for you. Use this outlet to help propel you forward, and also to support a worthy cause.