Other than hate crimes and white tears, last Tuesday’s election result exposed a lot of truth. While many activists took the attitude of “SSDD,” most of liberal America was shocked to the core. The silver lining? Well, the shitty makeup that covered injustice is slowly melting off. A few of the blind, now see the blotchy, dark circle, hot mess that was behind that foundation.
What’s more? Non-marginalized people are actually interested in becoming allies with the rest of us. Oh hell, let’s shoot straight from the hip, we are talking about white people.
Now, let’s get a couple things straight. First, the word ally is both a noun and a verb. You can be an ally, one who cooperates with another group for a specific purpose, typically with a formal agreement. Or, you can ally with others, which is to combine or unite a resource or commodity for mutual benefit. Second, communities of color are not always allies with one another, but oftentimes it is easier to readily accept a person from another marginalized group as an ally than someone who isn’t.
Honestly, you need to come correct. Here are seven points to consider if you are serious about becoming a white ally.
1. You better commit—the majority of this nation (people of color), we cannot take a day off. So if you want to support us, you can’t take a day off either. If you’re a NYC transplant, living in Brooklyn, rocking a black lives matter pin every day, you better wear that pin when you go home to rural Kentucky for Thanksgiving.
2. Read a book– no seriously, read a book. None of this stuff is new. Not the racism, not the brutality, not the misogyny, none of it. Learn from the past. Stop acting so surprised about everything— it’s insulting. People of color have known the truths that you are just now seeing for centuries.
3. Crush your comfort zone—from the black lens….everyday, we enter establishments where we are subject to looks, prejudice, subpar treatment- and you know what? We still order that coffee, we still deposit that check, and we still look folks dead in the eye. You may be uncomfortable hearing the about racial violence or seeing graphic images, but you have to see things for yourself. The whole, “my family wasn’t involved in racism or slavery,” thing… Okay? Not every black person in the U.S. came from slaves either… but the point is it happened. If you look at the present and the past, clearly it doesn’t take that much for people to jump on the bandwagon. Ditch the false glory. It’s been easy for white America to cherry pick one person as the representative of our entire culture, why are so offended when we do the same?
4. Not everything is a graphic tee—some people don’t like to wear their beliefs. Understood. Some people don’t like to blast their opinions online. Understood. If you want to be an ally, you can do other, really helpful things. Donate to a civil rights organization, sign a petition, volunteer your time, buy from minority owned businesses, or boycott unethical corporations. You’re not limited to wearing a Malcolm X shirt. But, please wear black on Wednesdays!
5. Solidarity is more than a safety pin. That concept isn’t even organized. We’ve already organized. Go organize your people, bring them together, have a meeting, and make a plan. After that, let’s work together.
6. Watch you language- “What can I do in my white body? “How can I use my privilege?” GET OVER YOURSELF. In your white body? What about as a human? Also, there is privileged everybody, y’all are not the only folks with connections or access. How about asking “what do you need?” or “How can I help?”
7. Don’t be neutral. Desmond Tutu said it best: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”