Advice for White people interested in formerly connecting to the Black antiracism movement. (Part I)
If there ever was a time to have good, strong White allies, this is it! This isn’t a dress rehearsal. This is a five-alarm fire and it’s time for White people interested in being an ally to suit up and get ready to help us fight the racist fires America keeps setting in our communities.
I keep getting asked by some of my readers to tell them what they should do. I address many problems and issues regarding racism and discrimination in America, but rarely do I provide solutions. I intentionally don’t provide solutions and instructions because in human fashion, whatever you prescribe, the intended consumers will find something wrong with it because of their implicit biases and prejudices. So why bother I say?
I don’t like to advise White people on how to go about their antiracism journeys because you can’t please everyone and for whatever reason when Black people speak on issues of race, we tend to rub White people the wrong way. I believe white people should go off and learn on their own based on their preferences and learning styles. It’s not like they are little kids. They aren’t infants in need of spoon-feeding. White people trying to figure out how to be better White people are fully grown and capable of figuring this thing out.
No one should have to tell White people how to make things right when they see so much wrong and they have the power and privilege to fix it, and even if you can’t see, just look. If White people made the mess, clean it up is my thought. I shouldn’t have to write this, but I get so many requests from White people about giving guidance on what to do that I believe it’s necessary. If I am telling my White readers serious about antiracism I want their help and they are asking for ways on how to be of service, it’s only right that I provide some leads and support.
After much reflection and consideration, I believe they are right. It’s a fair call. I need to provide some, practical wisdom and solutions.
We’re at a juncture in our nation’s history where racism has flared it’s ugly head again. We are going into a period of civil unrest like we always do when it comes to Blacks attempting to hold White America accountable. I also know all white people aren’t interested in preserving the legacies of our slave-owning founders.
Racist White people are doing what they’ve done for the last 400 years and Black people are tired. We are looking for White people to do more than be hurt and sorry over how we’ve been treated historically. Twitter thoughts, prayers, and outrage is not helpful when we’re literally broken, policed, beaten, and killed by White folks. We need to see White people in the streets before we get there, minus Karens of course. That’s nice and it’s a start, but more is expected of White people.
There will be no participation trophies in 2020. Black activists are examining all White people this year. If you haven’t been an ally before 2020, you’re late. Real late. Better late than never.
In order for White people to be good allies, there are some things you need to do first. I compiled a list of some important things allies will need to start to do.
Stop Acting Like Babies
Before you get into allyship, you need to grow up. Mature. Grow. Get your emotional intelligence up. Most White people have an emotional intelligence deficit when it comes to matters of race they’re not aware of. If you’re a White American, our entire system -of-things is set up to make White paths easy and comfortable. We are all trained to be nice to White people and to center them as if they are toddlers going through their terrible twos — even when they’re not nice to us. White people still expect their feelings to be centered at our expense.
If you can’t take a Black person telling you they don’t give a fuck about your feelings and understand why, please don’t sign up for allyship. You need to have thick skin and an acute grasp of U.S. history in order to understand the anger and frustration of Black people directed at White people, especially during racially-charged periods like the ones we’ve lived over the past 12 years (since President Obama’s election). White people have always been on their usual White People Shit (WPS), but they’ve stepped it up to pre-civil rights era WPS since Obama presidency. We are at the height of White people shit again, and the only thing that will stop it is another war because White people refuse to do anything without a fight.
Allies have grown past the grandstanding for white supremacy. They understand what’s at stake.
White people, I need to see your White faces in places where Black folks are protesting racism, injustice, police brutality, tyranny, and inequality, and not just one, I need you to show up like you all do for White people stuff. Y’all are not supposed to be at home watching us rage against the system on the news, scrolling your Facebook and Twitter feeds, watching videos, and reading news articles written by your favorite White journalists from your safe sofas and beds.
We want to see White faces and feet in these streets. Make your crew up some t-shirts and align yourselves with community activists of color. Go to their mobilizations and get engaged. Trust me, if White people are there White police are less likely to fuck with us although I must admit they seem to be equal opportunity terrorists now regardless of our skin colors. A protest about injustice should never be just a sea of Black and Brown faces unless you’re in an all-white, or black area.
Since the majority of people in America presently are White and our political structures the following suit, White people serious about injustice and inequity should be outside sprinkled in protests about police misconduct, racial discrimination, social injustice, voter disenfranchisement, and civil rights infringements specifically related to Blacks, or inequality. White people, you and your ancestors created this mess, and you benefit from the mess every day you leave it a mess. Fix it. March. Our few faithful allies already know the drill. There is power in numbers and in the diversity of the crowd.
Diversity is a sign of support in social and racial justice movements. We can no longer have all Black marches. The absence of White faces is consenting to the status quo. Sadly, change for Black people only happens when White people show up in droves! We’re holding you accountable and we are watching your every move.
Face Your Fears
I’m not going to be the first one to tell you I don’t give a damn about White comfort anymore and I won’t be the last (no offense). Unwarranted White fears have led to more Black deaths than you can shake a lick at a stick at. Racism often leads to those fears. White people need to face their own racism which leads to their fears.
Most of those fears come from White lies told by White politicians and wealthy businessmen to maintain White control and dominance over Black bodies and White minds. White people have more privilege and security than any people in the world. It’s time for White people to be as uncomfortable as Black and other non-white people are. They may as well get used to it because this is the new normal. If we can’t be happy and comfortable, White people sure as hell don’t deserve to be happy or comfortable either.
If you’re afraid of being around Black people or any people of color for that matter, that should be the first thing you should address. Take implicit bias tests to determine where your weaknesses are and begin working on them. There should be no shame when you’re sincerely trying to change. Study how racism works and how it’s evolved. Study the history of America. Go safely to your public library, or buy books from Amazon, or your favorite local bookstore. Read blogs written by non-white people. Find Black independent media and support it with readership and financially. Support Black-led nonprofits working to achieve equality or address racial intolerance that adheres to ethical sector standards. For far too long White people have made a living off of Black suffering while continuing to perpetuate the White savior complexes so many White people seem to have today.
We don’t need White people to continue saving us, we need them to stop hurting us and we need good White allies to help us fight bad, ignorant, and racist White people.
Visit museums to learn about race relations and slavery in your state. Start undressing your fears. Scared people don’t fight, they run or stand frozen doing nothing. A scared ally is a useless one. A stupid ally will get Black folks killed. Ignorant allies just piss everyone off and make it bad for the good, woke White people. Black people have had to deal with far worse. Face those fears. Seasoned allies have worked their issues out and understand there is so much more to living than having it all.
Practice What You Preach
White people are infamous for saying they believe in equality, but when it comes to making it happen, they expect a magic fairy out of the sky to make it all happen. Just like founding father Thomas Jefferson preached equality but didn’t practice it, most white people are the same way. Jefferson made equality possible for white people while owning African descendants of slaves, even making babies with his slaves. White people today aren’t much different.
Equality, justice, and liberty for Blacks won’t just happen because white people believe in it, it comes about because white people work to make it happen. Allies should be fully aware it takes a lot of work to achieve the America the founder’s tried to create.
Understand All Black People Don’t See Or Experience Racism The Same
The way I see and experience racism as a Southern Black woman born and raised in the cradle of the Confederacy isn’t the same as a Black woman in New York, the upper-middle-class Black family living in their mostly white suburban community in Georgia, or a biracial person raised by White women Iowa. A person who lived through the Civil Rights Era or the Great Depression may have a different perspective on race and equality than a 20-something-year-old Black person who grew up in an era where they and their parents were able to vote and they were able to attend good schools that were integrated.
Don’t get caught up in one Black experience, there are many. My experience as a Black woman is very different from my mother, who sued the city for racial discrimination (and won). It’s also different from my grandma and great-grandma. My dad experienced racism that is very different from his son’s who were allowed to attend integrated schools. There are also many Black people who enjoy the creature comforts of White Supremacy in the same way aloof White people do. Those types of Black people are atypical, but they do exist. That’s one side-effect of assimilation and a result of integration.
If we are talking about struggle and oppression, find those Black people addressing those issues instead of finding Black people who represent what White people want to believe about the state and treatment of Black America. Good allies know about New Blacks, Uncle Ben’s, house Blacks, etc., and are not looking for scapegoats when it comes to allyship.
Understand You Are Not The Police
Please understand Black people and people of color are sick and tired of White people telling us what to do acting as if we are mentally incapacitated or incapable of movement without the guidance of White folks. We don’t need White people to monitor us as if we are in prison or wards of the state. We are human beings who look, think, speak, and act (when possible) differently than White people because of ancestry. Instead of policing us and trying to get us to conform, our differences, and embrace them. Allies understand White people rule everything in this country and they realize most White people believe it’s their jobs to control every aspect of our lives. We don’t need overseers.
Good allies understand this and they act accordingly. They mind their business. More white people should practice this simple life-lesson. The only behavior White citizens are responsible for policing are their own (and their minor children) unless they are in some position of authority or a civil servant (notice the term is servant= serving the people). If it’s not a matter of life and death, mind your own business and you’ll help us stay alive.
Create Your Own Mobilization Methods
I don’t care if it’s just three little old “down for whatever” gangster White grandmas, white people should have a way to meet and discuss whatever is happening not just in their own community, but also so they can know what is happening nationally. White people need to have a way to connect and decide what they’re going to do to help us (working with us in concert no doubt). Use Meetups, create a Facebook group, use the phone, and in-person (when it’s safe) or online brunch breaks in Zoom rooms. White people need a plan to fight White Supremacy and White people should be the best planners to combat White Supremacy since you know how White people think. Allies don’t let anything stand in the way of mobilization and they understand the value of having plans to fight the government.
Get Some Black Comrades
White people should surround themselves with the salt of the Earth’s Black people. A diverse coalition of Black people is needed coming from all kinds of backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses, not just the ones who are assimilated with plush resumes and accomplishments superficial White folks can drag around to show off to their white people/friends like a prized pig at the county fair.
White allies need to have a circle or a tribe they coalesce with regularly. Because of the pandemic, an in-person fellowship may be impossible, but try video conferencing, having ally team building activities, conduct gift, and talent asset inventories to learn how you can help local groups already doing the work. Join groups IN YOUR LOCAL AREA. It’s easy to get spun up about a national movement then give to the charity that doesn’t support the work done in your own area where you need to see fruit.
Black folks have been protesting civil rights since the Emancipation Proclamation. Black people have had to fight for every gain they’ve ever made in the country. We know how to protest. We would love to have your company, but we don’t want to be your teachers, and we don’t want to be your pet projects. We certainly don’t want to be your one Black friend.
Finally, good allies work in the trenches with Black people as equals. Not leading, not showboating, not tokenizing, and definitely not offering charity allyship to talk about at your church meetings and your social gatherings. Come with our A-game to the antiracism fight.
Marley K. in Quarantine 2020
If you enjoyed part one of the discussion, check out part two here: