The years of systemic racism might not be over, but the years of unjust oppression and leveling down the loud black voices are on their way to be shattered. Black people aren’t alone and do not want to be alone either. They need allies, and you need to learn how to be one!
What does the word ally mean? The term is used loosely and often overused & abused by those who have no idea what being an ally is. Black people do not need white people who use the term ally for the sake of using it. They need people who take a stand against the problems borne out of centuries of oppression. Allies are those who take the lead even when they have no idea what it means to be judged and oppressed because of racial background.
Being an ally doesn’t mean that you must understand the scope of oppression and injustices being committed against black people and people of color. It means that you can look at their struggle, feel it as your own, and stand up for it.
If you are an ally or want to be one, you need to know what role you play to curb racism:
FINDING THE BLIND SPOTS
Often it is said that, if you want to be an ally, you need to work with the mindset that racism is everywhere. If you are not from the black community, you need to know that you will have unspoken biases. More than that, it is okay to admit because it is the years of conditioning that have caused them. If you want to be an ally, you have to work against your prejudicial instincts and conscious biases.
Address them. Find areas where your biases took over, so you know these are the ones you must root out. More than that, you must know what it means to have a racial privilege, which you already have. Project Implicit by Harvard is a great place to start. It is a series of tests that allow you to see where your biases lie. You will only have to answer a few questions and that would be it.
Know the forms of white supremacy you might be engaging in. Stop whitesplaining and listen more to the black people around you. When you know what you are doing wrong, it will be easy for you to not only get rid of it but advocate for the mass-eradication better.
THERE IS MORE TO SYSTEMIC RACISM
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, everybody has turned the direction of their canons toward police mostly. Although it is a good thing that people from all industries and areas of life are speaking up, still some of them are only focused on getting justice out of the police. As an ally, you need to know that racism exists everywhere – the corporate sector, educational institutions, and even in areas of worship. It disproportionately affects black people because it is ingrained everywhere.
Black people are underrepresented. Equal and just representation in every area of life is what they are fighting for. If you want to be an ally who is active in curbing racism, you have to do your research. You have to read up on history. You have to go through the current stats of discrimination. Once you know them, you have to consciously interact with everyone all the while knowing that racism is deep-seated wherever you are.
You have to bring that change by knowing where the change is required and then talking out loud against it.
TO LISTEN, TO LEARN & TO DONATE
Emphasizing how important it is for you to read up on black history will never be enough. Not just that, but really listen. Listen to what your black friends, colleagues, and employees are talking about. It isn’t their responsibility to educate you, but when they do, you have to be all ears. Do not dominate the conversation. Learn the difference between ‘not racist’ and being ‘anti-racist’. You can’t be an ally if you are not anti-racist.
Moreover, a lot of great organizations and groups are working on galvanizing the nation to take action on issues of race. Donate to them. Help them spread the word and help them reach their mission.
TO SPEAK OUT LOUD
Yes, it is as simple as that. No amount of learning, educating, and donating will be enough if you aren’t completely vocal about your anti-racist views as a strong ally. It isn’t speaking out in large groups or rallies, but rather in your everyday life. Shut down your friends, families, and colleagues when they are being insensitive or racist.
When you are white, you have the privilege. You have better access to white spaces, white people, and their voices & viewpoints as an ALLY than black people. You can use these opportunities to educate them. You can’t be selective if you want to be a true ally, you have to always speak up!
There is no staunch guide to be an ally. It takes YOU to be honest about the cause. It takes you to ditch your privilege that you have cashed on for so long, realize it, and take a stand against it as well. Only then can you call yourself an ALLY in the right sense.