Updated: Sep 30, 2020
The killing of George Floyd on May 25th 2020 in Minneapolis, and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests from America to the UK, has upsurged the conversation around white allyship and white privilege to the forefront of public discourse. The shocking video of Floyd's brutal death has circulated on the internet triggering long-overdue conversations in the process, along with the stories and injustices of many other victims.
What does it mean to Ally Effectively?
Ericka Hart from the Hoodrat to Headwrap Podcast explains the word 'ally' should be a verb and not a noun. That by calling themselves 'allies' white people can try to absolve themselves of racism, when instead we can only strive to actively 'ally' at any time. For example, you are allying when you donate money, but you are not 'an ally'. Another example, you ally when you stand in protest, but again, you are 'an ally'.
This is my overdue conversation: How to be actively anti-racist, and ally effectively.
Being a Non-Racist White Person isn’t enough. You need to be Anti-Racist
Being a non-racist facilitates inaction, thus it facilitates the mistreatment of others. I want to stress the difference between non-racist and anti-racist. Reni Eddo-Lodge illustrates in 'Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race' we are talking about race when we are not talking about it: the silence, the ignorance or inactivity is part of the problem.
we are talking about race when we are not talking about it
'"systemic racism”, or “institutional racism”, refers to how ideas of white superiority are captured in everyday thinking at a systems level: taking in the big picture of how society operates, rather than looking at one-on-one interactions - theconversation.com
These are invisible systems that White People have greatly benefitted from. They are built on structural inequalities and favouritism. This means we are favoured in education, employment and politics.
By not acting, we allow systemic racism to persist. If we tolerate injustice, we are part of the problem
Dear White People,
we are privileged because we share the skin of the people who create, uphold, and benefit from systemic racism. We need to do the work, and not be scared of making mistakes. We must not remain silent or frozen.
If you are White, you benefit from a racist system. And if that makes you feel uncomfortable, guess what? That's fine. That's good. It should make you feel uncomfortable. If it doesn’t, then we have a problem. This whole fucking system is uncomfortable and wrong.
Sit in that discomfort, question why it makes you feel uncomfortable. I vote for uncomfortable White People over murdered Black People. If we’re going to create change, white people need to do better. We need to learn how to effectively ally and be actively anti-racist.
7 Steps to Ally Effectively: An Introduction
I’m going to share with you the 7 beginning steps and strategies on how to become actively anti-racist and ally effectively.
...and why should you listen to me?
I am the example of a White Person who has benefit from systemic racism and is learning to step outside this project of whiteness. I’m open, honest and real. If I fuck up, call me out. We need to call each other out, and we can do that with with kindess. Let’s help each other grow.
I will never understand, but I stand
Secondly, these are not my own strategies. Well, not exactly. This is my long overdue homework. In this instance, my sleepless nights, unconditioning journalling and education exploration has been my self-care.
This list is my synopsis, my organised word vomit from all the information I have digested through countless articles, academic journals, Instagram posts/TV/videos, Ted Talks, Youtube content, charities and educational content I have been cramming into my white brain over the past week.
I include exercises/resources/references each step of the way, but attached at the foot of this post, is a master document of dismantling racism resources.
1. Don't avoid the Discomfort
Explore it. Understand it. Wear it. Own it. Discomfort is opportune for change. There’s a good chance you are resistant to the idea of feeling privileged when perhaps you don’t seem to notice or experience a feeling of privilege in your life. This is especially true if you have experienced trauma in your life, been victim to abuse and crime, and maybe do not have the most ‘privileged’ life circumstances. But if you are White, you are privileged.
Privilege, is not what you have gone through, it’s what you haven’t had to go through - Janaya The Future
If you are White, you benefit from the current systemic racism that is woven throughout our society. I understand the word privilege, especially for poor and rural White People, sounds like a word that doesn’t belong to them, because it may sound like a word that suggests they have never struggled.
White Privilege is not the assumption that everything a White person has accomplished has been easy or unearnst
White Privilege does not suggest you haven’t worked extremely hard to get to where you are. Instead, White Privilege coins the built-in advantage for white people that is so easily undetected, if you are White.
White Privilege doesn't mean your life isn't hard. It means your skin tone isn't one of the factors making it harder.
Perhaps your privilege has overshadowed by other flaws of society that did cut you short. The pay gap. Gender discrimination. Disability discrimination. Etc. None of this is your fault, you did not create the system, you did not condition yourself, but you are in control of how to respond to this, how to use your privilege, your voice and your power to change, influence and stand for justice. How you move through this matrix is up to you, but it starts with feeling the discomfort, not avoiding it.
If you are silent in the face of injustice, you are on the side of the oppressor
Ways to explore feelings of discomfort: talk therapies, art therapies, journaling, meditating, mindful walking, talking to your white friends, talking to your black friends if they have expressed that's welcome, talking to anyone you trust. Explore your upbringing, explore your heritage, your lineage, your family. Accept your ignorance, your conditioning, your privilege. Forgive yourself for not being a better white person, because no one taught you how to do so.
2. Educate Yourself
Now you have accepted, explored and come to understand your feelings of discomfort, it is time to broaden your knowledge. You cannot ally effectively without extending your understanding of Racism. You must be educated and up to date with Racism. Let me be clear: It is not the job of Black People to educate White People about racism and racial injustice. It is our own responsibility to do the work.
It is not the job of Black People to educate White People
Read books, articles and blog posts. Watch documentaries and film. Understand the history of racism and how it has evolved. Learn to recognise the many forms of racism from out-right outrageous to the subtle harder to detect, and what you can do to counter it.
You will not only better your knowledge and understanding of this global shit show, you will transmute those feelings of discomfort into a sense of empowerment, a sense of good that you can do.
3. Keep the Conversation Going
Don't just accept that the concept of your white privilege exists, but confront it and effectively ally. Push back against the racial oppression, do not remain silent in the face of it. Start conversations about the injustices you’re seeing and further the discussions on social media.
Talk about racism with your family and friends, even (and especially) if it’s uncomfortable
This dialogue should not end a week or a month or a year after a murder like this one happens. Keep the conversation going. A very powerful and important way to do this, is to email your local MP seeking support for victims and progress of justice.
We must pressure government to decrease policing, to call out the disproportionate arrests of black people, to call out misconduct and brutality of police, and highlight the fear experienced in marginalised and non-white communities.
UK friends: If you don’t know how to do this, and the idea of trying to formally write an email makes you wanna throw up, don’t worry. I have included template written by Writers Lucy Harborn and Nancy Dawkin, and a search engine for you local MP, at the foot of this post. Literally, it takes 5 minutes, you can just copy and paste.
4. Sign the Petition
Your signature is free, and if you have more than one email, you can sign more than once.
Of course, it’s a give in. Financial assistance is one of the most crucial ways to show your support against racism. If you can afford to donate, donate. Consider it a flat fucking white sacrifice, and donate £3 where and when you can.
One collective I am personally focusing on is Black Table Arts in Minnesota. This month’s open mic with Creation Poetry is raising money for this collective who organise Black Artists to build, empower and educate communities, and create spaces for leadership in the arts to thrive. So donate and join our open mic night: show support, get creative and be inspired all at once.
Join us! Creation Poetry Open Mic Night
Places to Donate:
Protesting is one of the most visible and powerful ways to show your support. It’s powerful to see and be seen standing in crowds of people fighting for change. Black people have been protesting this shit for too long. Stand together. Upcoming UK Anti-Rasism and Black Lives Matter protests:
London, June 3rd, Hyde Park
June 6th, Parlimant
And June 7th, US Embassy.
Machester, June 6th, Piccadilly Gardens.
Birmingham, June 4th, Victoria Square.
Sheffield, June 6th, Devonshire Green, 1pm.
Standing safely has never been more important. Please, if you plan to protest, reduce your risk of spreading or catching coronavirus at all costs. How to Reduce Risk of Coronavirus:
Wear a face covering
Wear eye protection to prevent injury
Use hand sanitizer
Don't shout or yell: use signs & noise makers instead
Stick to a small group
Keep 6 feet from other groups
7. Handle with Care
Handle yourself with Care. You’ve made it this far. You’re a good person, becoming even better. Activism is self-care. Using your voice and taking a stand for Social Justice is Self-Care. You are fighting for a better, more equal, more just future, where self-care too, is more equal, and just, for everyone.
Ultimately, the most caring thing I can do for myself is the same as the most caring thing I can do for anyone else - Nancy Dawkins, Self-Care is Activism, Kiloran Mag
One step at a time. You cannot do it all at once. But know that your self-care is inevitably about stepping into your higher self. Thus, becoming a better [White] person: and allying effectively. This may start with the discomfort of checking your privilege and realising how much knowledge you lack in anti-racism, and how inactive you have been.
Grow through it. Follow these strategies with care, every step of the way.
Love and Light for the cycle ahead. Remember, to feel the discomfort, step outside it, stand, and use your voice.
EMAIL YOUR MP Template
written by Lucy Harbron and Nancy Dawkins.
Find your MP here.
Dear (name of your MP)
I am writing you today for two reasons:
The first is to ask you to place your support behind justice for Belly Mujinga. Regardless of whether being spat on was the cause of her contracting covid-19, it is an absolute injustice that there have been no repercussions or assault charges for the man that spat on her. Furthermore, the fact that she was still made to work despite her underlying health condition is appalling. It is a poor reflection not only her employer's actions in shielding and protecting both employees and the general public, but also of the government's strategy to protect those who are most vulnerable in this global pandemic.
The second reason I am writing to you is to ask you to pressure the government to decrease the increased policing during lockdown, especially when it comes to the use of tasers. The police are disproportionately arresting black people, seen clearly and brutally with the recent assaults of two black men, both caught on camera, indicates that it is, once again, black bodies that will suffer if the police's power continues to grow. It is concerning to see so little public condemnation of the horrific acts being committed by the police forces in the United States currently - I’m extremely concerned about the lack of outrage regarding the brutality happening over there, and it concerns me that without it, the worry, mistrust and fear of the police in black communities in the UK will only grow stronger.
So please consider supporting justice for Belly Mujinga, asking the government to pull back on the powers that it is giving to the police at this moment in time, and to join others, and encourage others, in condemning the actions of the police force, President and armed forces in the United States for the brutality being acted out on, specifically, black bodies.
(your name and address)