We all have a part to play in beating racism. How much you can do is a personal choice, but it’ll take everyone doing something to create lasting change.
Today we’re focusing on ally-ship, what it means, and how you can be an ally in your day-to-day life.
What does being an ally mean?
Being an ally means standing up for people in marginalized communities, even though you’re not a member of that community.
It doesn’t mean that you understand exactly what people in these communities feel, but you’re actively trying to learn and take action to support them.
How to be an ally
Ally-ship is about action. These are some basic steps you can take to help in the fight against systemic racism.
Think about how you, a non-black person, interacts with black people. Think about ways you have treated black people different from non-black people. This is othering.
Racism takes many forms. When you act on these prejudices, you’re performing microaggressions. Microagressions are subtle and sometimes unconscious forms of discrimination.
The first step in ally-ship is confronting our own biases. Start by asking yourself these questions:
- Do I speak in a way that or participate in conversations that stereotype black people?
- What privileges do I have that black people do not? How will I acknowledge these privileges?
- How can I learn more about America’s history of racism?
- What types of systemic racism exist today?
Education begins with you. Before you can make a difference with others you need to understand the issues.
Here’s a list of some of our favorite materials for understanding the issues.
- Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- How to be Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis
- The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap by Mehrsa Baradaran
Each of these are on Netflix.
3. Check in
Reach out to your black friends, family, neighbors, loved ones, and colleagues. Right now is an emotional time and company can help.
Ask how you can provide support, and listen.
Some people will need more active support and others will need time and space.
Remember to respect their wishes.
Remember: action is the name of the game.
If you can, donate to and support black-owned non-profits, businesses, and initiatives.
Here’s a list of some resources you can support:
- EatOkra App: This app helps you find black-owned restaurants in your neighborhood.
- The Bail Project: This is a nationwide bail fund to help people make bail. Right now they’re giving preference to protestors speaking out against police violence.
- Color of Change: This is a black-led nonprofit civil rights organization advocating for racial justice in America.
- The Legal Aid Society: This New York City-based non-profit is the oldest and largest provider of legal aid in the U.S.
- Know Your Rights Camp: A non-profit organization founded by Colin Kaepernick that teaches black and brown communities about self-empowerment and community organizing.
- Black Votes Matter Fund: An organization devoted to increasing political power in black communities.
- Youth Justice Coalition: An organization working to end mass incarceration.
- The Loveland Foundation: This foundation helps support therapy for black women and girl.
5. Don’t give up
This journey is a lifelong commitment. Change starts now, but getting justice will take time.
It’s okay to get discouraged, but it’s important to keep fighting. Any challenge worth overcoming has obstacles.
Here are some actions to take on:
Embrace discomfort: Don’t excuse racist behavior with your friends, family, and coworkers. Everyone needs to move forward if we want equality.
Growth doesn’t always come easy, so get used to tough conversations.
Start young: Learning starts in the home. We have a duty to educate our children about these issues.
It’s never too early to start teaching people about racism.
Keep supporting: It’s easier to support, when these issues are in the news, but the work needs your sustained support.
Don’t give up or forget about systemic racism once the attention has died down.
AI researcher and writer Eliezer Yudkowsky said this: “You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in.”Society needs individual people to contribute to progress. It needs you.
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