Advice for White people interested in formerly connecting to the Black antiracism movement. (Part II)
If you missed out on the first part of the discussion for those interested in allyship, check it out here:
Getting Knowledge- Enlightening Yourselves
Consume as much national and state history as you can. Read literature written by Black people. We speak from a totally different perspective because we see America and White people through different lenses. Learning about America’s racist history is like a road map. You don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. White people and people of color obviously don’t know where we’ve been or how they’ve benefitted from racial discrimination. Get knowledge, but don’t make White ignorance our burden. We’re on fire here ya know. We’ve lived what you don’t know. We’ve lived through generations of racism and we continue to live with white supremacy.
It’s not our job to teach White people how they have mistreated, ignored, or neglected us. Read. Learn. Study. Get Understanding.
Good keywords to start with are: Levittown, redlining, gentrification, microaggressions, racial discrimination, hiring discrimination, pay inequality, school-to-prison pipelines, flawed predictive policing, slave patrols, military segregation, COINTELPRO, environmental terrorism, racialized city/county planning, Southern Strategy politics, the Reconstruction Era, Jim Crow, Slave Codes, Black Codes, The original Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Tuskeegee Experiment, Black Wall Street, Rosewood, Florida, John C. Calhoun, and the South Carolina/Virginia slave trades. Research debunked theories by White researchers on race and Black inferiority. Research the flaws in predictive policing and how White neighborhoods were created. Just learn why White people are so isolated and so ignorant. It’s by design.
Good allies are knowledgeable and willing to understand what they don’t know.
Sacrifice and Show Others How-To Sacrifice
Taking the talk is easy. Walking the talk is much harder. Lots of White people love telling us they want equality, but what they don’t realize is that equality is all about fairness. Fairness is all about ensuring the playing fields are even and the things are done to ensure the least have and those with excess are willing to give/share. That means they believe in reparations because they can’t possibly believe you can correct 400-years of inequality in one stinking year with 2–3 minor or major policies signed into. That’s not how any of this works. If we don’t fix racism at home, it’s coming to work and into our political systems.
White people need to know sacrifice isn’t a pitiful reform bill with many loopholes given to us as a charity. Before the legislation’s ink is dried, White men are looking for ways to skirt the rules or have lobbied to ensure the parts that need to be fixed aren’t in the legislation begin with.
Sacrifice isn’t just saying you’re for equality then not doing anything to help get us there. Allies understand their sacrifices cannot be in vain and they have discussed how their sacrifices help and harm us prior to making them. Most White people treat antiracism like mission trips. They take it, do the few good deeds, usually make another problem, come home, and forget all about it until they need to brag about their goodness and mercy.
Equality requires sacrifices by White people, a lot of white people —as well as people of color because they’ve also benefitted from anti-blackness if they haven’t outright participated in it.
Tangible sacrifices look like hiring/jobs, business lending and White people supporting them with their business, information sharing, resource reallocation, equitable funding, justice, liberty, and freedom to move and breathe, tax relief (white people have spent a lot or Black tax dollars and we got nothing in return), and anything else we’ve been locked out of because we were Black and America’s racist. In order for anything to get better or any changes to occur, white people will need to be uncomfortable, sacrificing all they love. The White people who aren’t willing to sacrifice so that Black lives can be better are our problem. Sacrificing is the only love language Black people want to see from White people. Allies understand sacrifice and they live a life reflective of their understanding.
Changing is going to be a life-long activity for white people on this antiracism/equality journey. White people can’t absorb the moment, history, and antiracism knowledge without changing. If White people are not on a journey to change so they can inspire racists around them to change, well, what’s the point? As they learn, they must change. If White people are not going to change then don’t bother becoming an ally. White attitudes need to change. White perceptions need to change.
White minds need to change. Your way of thinking needs to change. How you do business, vote, work, see, and experience Blackness should change. You should also be uncomfortable. If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not doing anything. If you can continue to be around racists, you’re not growing and changing, because their bullshit should make your stomach turn if you’re really serious about antiracism.
Changing for the better means changing the legacy of whiteness in America to something good instead of something troublesome to put it nicely.
If enough white people don’t change, America won’t change. Period. Full stop. Everything wrong with America is because of white supremacy and capitalism which is driven by white supremacy. Longtime allies have committed to change and they understand the complexities of systemic racism. The small pool of allies needs more support from White people. When you change, your racist circle will get smaller — and that’s okay. For every racist, clueless, or wilfully ignorant friend you lose, find a seasoned ally to replace them.
Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
To be on this journey is to take an oath of discomfort. To be uncomfortable is to decenter whiteness. Committing to a life of discomfort is what Black people commit to every day we live. Don’t expect any brownie points for making the choice. As a matter of fact, no one cares about White discomfort. What we care about is the fruit that comes from an ally’s discomfort. Being uncomfortable is a sign of growth. Constant discomfort is a sign you’re considering the well-being of others instead of living for whiteness.
Allies have grown in their antiracism journeys to the point where there is no such thing as comfort and discomfort. Discomfort and comfort have been replaced by being concerned with what is fair and unfair.
Use White Privilege To Make Black Lives Better
Do whatever you can, whenever you can, where ever you can, with whatever gifts, talents, and resources you have at your disposal to be antiracist. All white people benefit from racism and white supremacy, so they all need to help dismantle the system. I dislike pigeonholing folks into what they should be doing because it could discourage people with limited resources but big hearts. Just look for ways to help, then do something. All White people have White privilege. The question is will they use it for good or for evil?
Make using white privilege a lifetime commitment and stick to it. As a white ally, know you’ll be alright no matter what. Even if there are setbacks for us all, the government always has a plan to help white people get back on their feet. That’s the American way. Allies do what they can, when they can, and have no regrets about it. They also don’t feel the need to brag to the world about what they do. Their kindness says it all.
Stop Concern Trolling & Tone-Policing
Nothing aggravates me more than me trying to tell white people about white people shit (which if they read the comments of non-white commenters and studied our history they’d know it to be true), and white people either labeling me as an angry Black woman who gets angry with every recent event or when I’m tone-policed (especially true for white women) who feel the need to tell me how I need to speak to and about white people so they will listen.
My readers should know the first time I was called nigger by a white person I was in high school walking alone, and two white teenagers in a truck drove by me to call me one that was in the 90s. The first time a white teacher tried to tell me my child wasn’t smart when I had spent ample time and money prepping him was when they were in pre-school in the early 2000s. My youngest son will be 28 this year. My problems with white people didn’t just start. Black people’s problems with white people start the day we’re born.
No matter the age, I and any other Black person experiencing racism and microaggressions in America have a right to be angry if we so choose to be because no matter how old we get, white people don’t change. We are sick and fucking tired of living life like this and we have a right to be whatever we are at any moment. White people incapable of understanding this should just move on or at least come back when you’re emotionally available for Black people. I don’t have time to teach empathy. If said White folks are not emotionally equipped, antiracism is likely not for you.
In addition to experiencing racism and microaggressions, we have a steady current of White people invalidating our experiences and views, so excuse us if our fuses are short. Again, we’re tired to death. This moment has been 400 years and some change in the making. Tone-policing and concern-trolling are ways to devalue Black people. It won’t be tolerated.
Using tactics like tone-policing or concern trolling are new ways white people deflect and disassociate from being white. It doesn’t work. Concern trolling and tone-policing just make you look fragile and bossy, kind of like overseers. We are free and we don’t need you to tell us how to speak or pretend you’re concerned about our feelings because if you were, you could stay on topic and get to the crux our arguments instead of attempting to modify our behavior. Good allies know they may know a lot, but because racism is so unregulated and has manifested in so many forms in America, they understand it’s not their lane. Good allies don’t concern troll or tone-police because they are mature enough to know expressing emotions are healthy.
Read: White People — Give Space to Black People’s Outrage: https://link.medium.com/NFp87y6AU7
They also know if you don’t spend much time talking to Black people, you have no idea whether you should be concerned. That misplaced concern is about white own discomfort with our words or a dislike for the way we put our food on the table. If you don’t like what someone says move on. White Allies aren’t trying to be bosses, police, overseers, and abusers. Allies understand they are at a deficit and they are the ones ignorant to the ways of white supremacy.
Support Black Independent Media, News, Creatives and Educators
White people should support Black people they learn from. White people should also seek out alternative resources to learn about different aspects of Black life and Black struggle. The knowledge you expect us to provide has taken years to accrue like a medical degree, except its way more intense and the racism lasts a long time-like forever. Can you imagine experience hate from multiple groups of people every single day of your life from cradle to the grave? Can you imagine how tiring it is trying to navigate hate and racism the way our ancestors did hundreds of years ago? We’re tired being the world’s washboard and favorite thing to beat up, berate, and neglect is old. Some days I wonder to myself how we’ve made it this far.
Most Black folks have a Ph.D. in racism and anti-Blackness that we’ve paid for with our blood, sweat, and tears. Even the Black people White believe have “made it” still endure racism every day, just ask’em. But think about when you ask them you’re asking them to share what they’ve learned via their hands-on racism education and racialized life experiences. Allies understand that getting educated on racism is no different than paying an attorney to advise you on legal matters or hiring a plumber to fix your leaky pipes. If you pay them to use their expertise to benefit you, pay Black people. Slavery is over and we are no longer the help.
Allies read lots on the Black experience so they can stay in tune with what’s happening in our communities, but many don’t venture from traditional, White-owned and operated media. Independent Black-run and Black-led media and publications are very diverse and can offer a better picture of what we care about as well as tell non-Black folks about what’s going on in Black America. Try Black media and publication resources like Our Human Family, Roland Martin Unfiltered, Context Media, the Black Detour, Madam Noire, Your Black World, Black America Web or other Black newspapers nationally. They all are different, but they all have something to say about Black suffering and inequality in America.
The tone will be different because the words aren’t written by White people. Read more Black writers. Also follow us on Medium. We are experts on things Black. Listen to us first.
Be Quiet When It’s Not Necessary To Speak
White people need to learn sometimes you don’t need to speak on everything. White people also need to understand there will be plenty of times they’ll need to read silently the way we used to in the old days and ignore some stuff. If you don’t like something or disagree with, go to the to of the page and back out of it. It is no necessary for you to inform us when you don’t like something we say or if it doesn’t align with your perceptions/teachings.
We have been living under the duress of racism longer than most White people have been allies. Some people are just mildly interested in allyship because it’s safe and fashionable now. Of course, you’re not going to agree with everything we say or see everything the way we see it — but you better learn to read the room, the side of the room the Black people sit on. If you see Black folks mean-mugging, not looking pleased or if we’re agreeing with something you’re disagreeing within the comment section of pieces you read, examine your views and ask yourself who are you in this fight for.
Are you doing the antiracism reading to help Black people or to defend and center White people? Allies know where they stand and they rarely forget, and when they do, they don’t take offense for making a mistake.
Understand True Allies Are Rare
Allies that are down with us like four flat tires are rare. Good allies know they are so few they aren’t offended when we say “White people.” White people will check out of antiracism stuff so fast it will make your head spin. They quit activism on behalf of Black people faster than teenage boys and girls quit boyfriends and girlfriends. Understand as a White ally you’re likely to be alone than not. Good allies are rare. They break up with us all the time. Black folks expect allies to quit on us. We understand White people aren’t cut out for hard times, alienation, segregation, bullying, being called bad names, etc. like we are. Being an ally is a lonely walk and the pool of qualified people considered true allies is super small. Good allies are rare.
Be the change you believe in. Don’t just talk about it, be about it. And please don’t get angry when you’re called out. Just do better!
Marley K in Quarantine 2020