As a new civil rights movement sweeps through our country and around the globe, so does the question of allyship, what it is, and what it means to be one. Then there’s a separate group of white and non-Black/POC that already claims to be allies but are far from it. Often times their allyship includes trashy hot takes, and centering performative activism that can be just as harmful. Truth be told, most white people are not allies. They are actors.
"Actors who do not disrupt the status quo, much the same as a spectator at a game. Both have only a nominal effect in shifting an overall outcome. The actions of an Actor do not explicitly name or challenge the pillars of White supremacy which is necessary for meaningful progress towards racial justice."- Whiteaccomplices.org
If you're ready to do some actual work to help dismantle white supremacy and become a true ally, you have to be willing to give some things up and even engage people in your circle who you know are overt racists. I discuss this more in-depth during my most recent podcast "Antiracism Work with White Parents" with my friend Domari Dickinson.
Here are a few more ways you can be a better ally to Black people....
1. Educate yourself.
Find those hot buzzwords and they will lead you down the rabbit hole of education. A great place to start is white supremacy; learning the difference between racism, discrimination and prejudice, white guilt, and white fragility. Don't ask Black people to do this work for you. The work is how you learn. Be aware your education will never stop, and I mean NEVER. Everything you know will be challenged which brings me to my next point...
2. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
Get ready, and uncomfortably comfortable with sitting in your white guilt and fragility. Educating yourself in the easy part, but where many go wrong is once that education becomes uncomfortable and they retreat in their bubble. It is not fun to take a look at your ENTIRE world and realize it was built on blood, tears, and oppression. Guilt is normal and so is being fragile the key is to not let it consume or control you. Know that we don't want your guilt, we want white people to own racism as the generational curse that it is. When you look around and realize there is a lot of fixing to do it can be overwhelming!
3. Activate your inner-circle
The biggest impact you can have immediately is to then begin educating your family, peers, and close circle. Breaking away from white solidarity and make sure you are speaking up regardless of breaking the “white peace” is an ongoing part of being an active ally. Dismantling this system is a long process and the labor of educating your fellow white folks takes labor off Black people. It’s a vital part of allyship. Nobody can help fix a system they don’t understand and being actively antiracist isn’t just calling for accountability from yourself, but also those around you.
4. Decenter yourself and amplify the voices of Black people
Take note of how and where you're using your voice to advocate for social justice issues. Not everybody is a social media justice warrior and that’s okay. Making your voice heard and doing advocacy work takes many forms. In the midst of education and along the lines of advocacy, it can be easy to be loud and center yourself. Make sure whenever possible you are centering Black voices especially those who are most marginalized within the Black community. This can be, but not excluded to, sharing their posts on social media verses making your own, reading books about racism/antiracism by Black authors, directing people to your local organizers Patreon for education and information, attending workshops lead by Black organizers, and donating funds to those who teach you and expend their labor for “free”.
5. Put your money where your allyship is
Once you’ve educated yourself you will realize one of the biggest issues is unequal lack of access to resources. Resources can be time AND money. Putting your time and money toward Black venture whether it be individuals, businesses, nonprofits, etc can only serve to help build up and create equity. Buying from Black businesses and helping local community organizations financally are justing a few ways to level up your allyship.
6. Get political
Every time I read "I don't want to get political on Facebook", I shake my fist at the computer. BIPOC needs you to stop living in your nice white bubble and get political...online, in person, at the dinner table, at the line in the bank. These inequities only exist because white people pretend they don't by not talking about it. Make sure your politics center around the oppressed and their issues. Politics is defined as any activities associated with the governance of the country and its people. Politics, of course, includes voting for the president but there are many other forms:
Voting for your representatives
Voting in local elections
Local school board meetings
School PTA meetings
Everyone has this weird untrue perspective that by centering the most oppressed you forget yourself and it is honestly the exact opposite. A great example is when Black trans women led the Stonewall riots which sent LGBTQIA+ rights propelling forward. It’s because of them the community has some of the freedoms enjoyed today. Their activism centered themselves, the most marginalized; however, let’s note that even today racism is still rampant in the LGBTQIA+ community resulting in persecution on various levels and even death. Center your politics around the most marginalized to see and promote change. Period.
These are great starting points to becoming a better ally. They're also great check boxes to ensure you’re being actually helpful and not performative. It’s important to note being an ally isn’t a special badge of honor at all. It should be an ongoing normal part of your humanity. It’s a part of having the basic morality to dismantle a system that is maintained by those presently benefiting. This act will ensure a better brighter equitable future for all people, especially for those who are marginalized. But most importantly, this work never stops. There will never be a time when you can say you've reached a certain point to be able to stop. The road to dismantling and divesting from white supremacy is a long and rocky one, because many white people don't want to do the necessary work. Silence really is violence. The time to be an ally is now, the time to do it right is the present.
If you're ready to do the necessary work of divesting from white supremacy, join my group for white parents called, How to Divest from White Supremacy. It's a paid membership where you'll be challenged every day to examine how you invest in and benefit from white supremacy. Click here to join...
Blake, J., 2020. How 'Good White People' Derail Racial Progress. [online] CNN. Available at: <https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/01/us/white-liberals-hypocrisy-race-blake/index.html?fbclid=IwAR29E5iG3EnDcCFgp35cu1iR3myYef4T2ABrlnW0dZPXOIFgS1SEGrhhKcI> [Accessed 10 August 2020].
Johnson, A. (1997). What can we do? Becoming part of the solution. The gender knot: Unraveling our patriarchal legacy. Temple University Press. Retrieved from https://www.cabrillo.edu/~lroberts/AlanJohnsonWhatCanWeDO001.pdf
Monahan, E., 2019. Breaking From White Solidarity. [online] Medium. Available at: <https://medium.com/@ekmonahan/breaking-from-white-solidarity-b7f7d5d7f4e7> [Accessed 10 August 2020].