Make Sure Your Minimalism Means Something

Otherwise, what's the point?

Read this post on the blog, listen to it on the podcast or keep scrolling to read it in your inbox.

It feels like another lifetime ago that I actually wrote a blog post. Minimalism is a pretty out-of-touch movement at the best of times, so my normal writing repertoire just hasn’t felt right since the incredible explosion of Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality in the wake of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

No matter how uncomfortable it is to admit, I am a very privileged white woman. Like a lot of people out there, I am now coming to terms with the fact that my “not racist” ness is not enough. I need to do more to be actively anti-racist. And I have to believe that my minimalist lifestyle has a role to play in that process. 

Minimalism is often sold as a movement about less. Less stuff, less consumption, less busy, less stress. With the lives of Black, Indigenous and people of colour being threatened at seemingly every turn, I wanted to take some time to explore what minimalism could look like if we focused on what it has and not what it doesn’t. 

Minimalism as a movement, by and large, is underpinned by privilege. Being in a position to opt-out or otherwise say no to the ‘traditional’ trappings of life means you have the ability and opportunity to have and make choices in life. 

If you consider yourself a minimalist, you’ve probably spent some time changing your relationship to material things and how you consume them. Maybe you buy less and repurpose more. Maybe you’ve decluttered your possessions by donating them or selling them. 

Maybe, like me, you try to spend less time online, watching TV, or otherwise consuming information (an ongoing challenge tbh). 

We can opt-out of a lot of things as minimalists. But we should never opt-out of doing what is right. 

I don’t know about you but I find it difficult to believe that being a minimalist should only benefit myself as an individual. It’s not enough for me to personally benefit from minimalism and my choice to consume less. And I hope it’s not enough for you either. 

If minimalism is a movement that frees up your time and money to focus on what is important to you (which I think it is), we should be able to redirect some of that time, money and attention we’re not using on ‘stuff’ to movements and causes that are about fighting for justice for people who have been oppressed by the same system that many of us derive benefit from (myself included). 

This might (will) be uncomfortable, but ask yourself:

  1. What am I doing with my free time to help/support/amplify BIPOC?

  2. How am I spending my money to support BIPOC organizations and businesses? 

If you consider yourself an ally (and not just a performative one on Instagram), now is the time to opt-in and stay-in. 

 If you want to be a better ally, but you genuinely do not know where to start, here are some ideas (crowdsourced from the Internet). 

  • Attend a protest in your area if you’re able to. 

    • If you can't attend, consider donating supplies like masks, water, medical supplies, snacks, etc. (Shoutout to Tanja Hester from Our Next Life for sharing this as an idea on her Instagram).

  • Set up recurring donations to BIPOC organizations if you’re financially able to. (I personally have set up recurring donations to the Black Health Alliance, the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund and the Legacy of Hope Foundation)

  • Sign a petition and educate yourself on racial injustice in your country. 

    • Yes, even if you live in Canada, where "racism doesn't exist".

  • Support BIPOC-owned businesses with your dollars (including buying books written by BIPOC authors). 

  • Offer resources (actual, tangible things or skills you can offer to local organizations who can use them). 

  • Challenge those around you in their beliefs if they are racist (even if it means you might lose some relationships). 

I am by no means saying that I am perfect in my allyship. Because I’m not. But there is no other choice than to keep at it and keep getting better. The lives of our friends, families and communities depend on it.

If your minimalism doesn’t go beyond curating the perfect aesthetic to actively trying to be anti-racist and challenge privilege in all aspects of your life, what is the point?  

How are you making sure that your minimalism means something?