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6 ways your holiday gifts can boost equality

5 min
Illustration of a group of people depicted engaged in different activities such as cooking, watching TV, opening gifts, and reading
Illustration by Hailey Coral
With every purchase we make, and every homemade gift we craft (no matter how rudimentary our skills), we have the power to create a more equal world.

While buying a child a toy that defies gender stereotypes isn’t going to fix gender inequality, and supporting bookstores owned by people of color isn’t going to dismantle racism (if only it were that easy), the everyday activism of conscious giving is part of how we create social change. It’s a way all of us can help to create the world we want.

When shopping, think about who you want to support. Consider channeling your dollars towards women, people of color, nonbinary people, trans people, and anyone else who might represent a minority among the companies and artists that tend to profit most at this time of year (and all year).

The list below includes several ways you can find gifts at a range of budget levels that support the larger fight for equality. And of course, you can also always make a tax-deductible donation in a loved one’s honor to a nonprofit organization working to create a more equal world.

illustration of a young girl opening a gift
Illustration by Hailey Coral
Gift ideas for kids

Help shape impressionable young minds with books and toys that disrupt tired stereotypes. For example, in the book, The Paper Bag Princess, the princess rescues the prince. Boo-yah! Or arm a girl with the skills to disrupt stereotypes herself, with a book like Girls Garage: How to Use Any Any Tool, Tackle Any Project, and Build the World You Want to See. A Mighty Girl gift guide offers more gender-stereotype-busting gift ideas, searchable by age and category.

Also, don’t miss Embrace Race’s crowd-sourced list of books featuring kids of color “being themselves”; as the editors say, “We think reading and discussing stories about oppression with children is important. But the percentage of books featuring black, brown, indigenous and other people of color that are about oppression is oppressively high. We are so much more than the oppression we endure.”
Illustration of a woman laying on her stomach reading a book
Illustration by Hailey Coral
Gift ideas for book lovers

Buy books written by women, especially women of color, and buy them from bookstores owned by the same. This both elevates the perspectives of more marginalized storytellers and puts more of your holiday shopping dollars in their pockets. Over on the Well-Read Black Girl website, Glory Edim offers a list of Black bookstores around the country. You can also find a list of diverse bookstores to support from the aptly named nonprofit, We Need Diverse Books.
Illustration of three oval frames with portraits of famous women of color
Illustration by Hailey Coral
Gift ideas for history buffs

Give the gift of an online class that shines a light on the history of our fight for equality, or that illuminates the lesser-known history of women and/or people of color. For example, the Smithsonian is offering a January class about female spies of WWII (yes, ladies be spying); another one in February explores the role that Philadelphia’s Free African Society played in ministering care during an 18th century epidemic.

If the history lover in your life is an aging parent or relative, consider wowing them with the gift of capturing your family history, courtesy of MemoryWell.
Illustration of a woman sitting in her living room holding a remote looking at a TV
Illustration by Hailey Coral
Gift ideas for movie fans

Sometimes, shared experiences make the best gifts. Particularly for someone who misses going to the movies with friends, a movie night might be just what the doctor ordered — and you can support equality while you’re at it (for a remote movie night with folks outside your household, check out these options). Look for films that are directed by under-represented groups, and that pass the Bechdel Test (where at least two female characters — with names! — talk to each other about something other than a man...imagine that).

Two acclaimed, timely choices: The documentary And She Could Be Next, executive produced by Ava Duvernay, about the movement of women of color transforming American politics; and Not Done: Women Remaking America, about the last five years of the women’s movement and its intersectional fight for equality.
Illustration of a man wearing an apron holding a knife in a kitchen
Illustration by Hailey Coral
Gift ideas for foodies

Give the food lover in your life a gift certificate to a local restaurant owned by women and/or people of color. Or, if you live with a foodie, don a chef’s hat (real or figurative) and whip up a homemade meal, taking care to purchase ingredients from a market owned by someone from a community you’d like to support.

Here’s another idea: If, like the majority of American households, an adult female in your home usually does the cooking — take a stand for equality by giving her a break and creating homemade coupons for meals made by you (if you’re the person who does the cooking, consider asking your partner for this as a gift). Bonus points if you offer to take over grocery shopping for a week...a month... forever??

Not sure how to cook? No problem. Just pick up a cookbook written by a woman or person of color, and get to learning! Or sign up for a fun online cooking class so you can learn together, and have fun.
Illustration of a woman sitting cross-legged on a cushion wearing headphones
Illustration by Hailey Coral
Gift ideas for music-lovers

Use the occasion of gift-giving to introduce the music lover in your life to more music that’s written, performed, recorded, and sold by women and/or people of color. Choose a favorite album, or get creative and design your own playlist, complete with liner notes about why you’re recommending each song on the list. Another option: Head on over to Etsy and find personalized art featuring the lyrics to a favorite song. No time to wait for delivery? Don’t worry: This woman-owned shop offers the option to print at home.

I hope this list gets you fired up to make 2020 the most equality-boosting holiday season yet. And I’ve only scratched the surface; I hope that my ideas spark ideas of your own. If so, share them on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #equalitycantwait.

For more ideas about how to take action to create a more equal world, be sure to check out EqualityCan’tWait.com.