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8 ways to get involved during Black History Month and beyond

How to make donations or get connected with year-round projects near you.

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Becoming more involved in your local community is one way to show support.

CNET

2021's Black History Month marks seven months since protests against the killings of George FloydBreonna TaylorAhmaud ArberyRayshard Brooks and other victims of police brutality shook the US and the globe. 

America's reckoning with systemic racism included local and global pledges to review police fundingban chokehold maneuvers on civilians and remove Confederate figures and others involved in the enslavement of Black people. Addressing racial inequality in the US, particularly a racialized wealth gap, has been a top priority for President Joe Biden.

If you're looking for ways to support Black social organizations, we've gathered suggestions from the Black Lives Matter movement, NAACP and American Civil Liberties Union, among others, to help get you started. 

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If you'd like to financially support one or more of the organizations whose message resonates with you, consider a recurring monthly donation to help with ongoing expenses.

Sarah Tew/CNET

1. Make an ongoing, monthly donation to an organization

Donating money to a charity is an important way to support a movement or group, and your monetary contribution can help fund programs, legal battles and salaries that keep the organization afloat. Many companies agree to match employee donations, which doubles the size of your contribution.

Consider this, too. Programs -- especially nonprofits -- require reliable, year-round income to do their work. Instead of pledging a lump sum, think about giving a monthly donation. Even if it's "small," your donation joined with others can help provide a steady stream of funds that let programs run smoothly. 

In addition to your local food bank, literacy groups and youth programs, you can donate to:

Black Lives Matter
NAACP
ACLU
The Bail Project
YMCA

Here's a list of 135 organizations that benefit Black communities, including victim memorial funds, policy change advocates, Black LGBTQIA groups and youth-oriented groups.

2. Consciously buy from Black-owned businesses and restaurants

Becoming a customer of local and small businesses helps protect the livelihood of individuals within a community. If you aren't sure which businesses in your area are owned and operated by your Black neighbors, there are several resources that can help.

Here's how to find Black-owned restaurants where you live. Etsy is highlighting Black-owned vendors on its website for boutique and custom goods. Many of these shop owners are women selling jewelry and unique art pieces.

We Buy Black and Official Black Wall Street are two other platforms that aggregate businesses owned by members of the Black community.

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Black Lives Matter sells t-shirts and other apparel to help raise money and promote the organization's message.

Black Lives Matter

3. Wear Black Lives Matter gear and other apparel

What you wear speaks volumes, especially if the message supports racial equality and denounces hate.

For example, the Black Lives Matter organization sells apparel ranging from hats and shirts to stickers and hoodies, and showcases artists. Buying this type of clothing provides another avenue to provide financial support.

4. Sign petitions online, send texts, make phone calls, attend local events

Becoming more involved in political action is a step anyone can take, and the options range from a 20-second commitment to click on a prewritten petition to attending local events.

For example, the ACLU website offers a handful of quick, fairly low-key ways to participate on its site as well as some more involved options, like making phone calls or texts on behalf of the organization's causes, and signing up to learn about local events like town hall meetings.

BLM has chapters across the US that you can join -- there's also information about starting a new chapter. Current petitions revolve around the coronavirus' disproportionate impact on the Black community versus other ethnic groups. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also shared supporting data.

5. Link up with local community groups and religious organizations

National and global organizations have the ability to marshal resources and disseminate information. In addition, many find they can make a difference in their towns, cities and states. 

Your local school PTA, religious organization, child's extracurricular social group, your workplace and city hall are excellent places to listen to the challenges facing your broader community and help make changes where you live. 

For example, discussions might center around disbanding offensive and racist traditions, requiring sensitivity training, or improving outreach efforts to make a greater cross-section of the community feel welcome and valued.

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Voting is among the most fundamental rights in a democracy, and the first step is to register.

CNET

6. Continue to help register and educate voters

Voter education and registration happens year-round, and voting in local elections can have a direct impact on the community where you and others live. Outreach often targets groups that are less likely to vote, like young voters, those who may have more trouble finding the time and resources to vote, and people who live in neighborhoods where they're worried about their physical safety.

Voter suppression is the practice of blocking or discouraging groups of people, usually racialized or ethnic minorities, from exercising their right to vote through a variety of means. Organizations combat the practice by helping register voters, educate them about their legal rights and safely reach a polling location or arrange for a mail-in ballot. 

Rock the Vote, which focuses on young voters, seeks volunteers to help with registration and voter turnout. 

The YWCA, an organization centered on racial justice, support from violence against women and empowerment, emphasizes practical ways to get involved with voter registration and polling.

7. Continue your self-education: Book groups, TV shows, more

Do you know how to identify forms of covert racism? Were you aware of historical housing practices that restricted ethnic and racialized groups from buying property in specific neighborhoods? Pursuing an education about the many forms of systematic oppression in the history of the modern world can help you identify bias and discrimination within yourself and in institutions around you. 

You can join or start a book club focused on topics of contemporary and historical racism. If you prefer individual learning, create your own education program or follow one of the many suggested programs, such as this framework from Autumn Gupta, entitled Justice in June.

CNET also collected this list of books, movies and TV shows to educate people of all ages about systematic racism.

8. Join a movement

Organizations are always seeking new members who are interested in receiving newsletters on events, civil involvement and petitions they can participate in. In addition to becoming active in a local social or religious group, you can join these nationally recognized organizations. 

If you do participate in any in-person activism...

If you plan to protest through these or any other organizations, be sure to know your rights before hitting the streets.