It seems as if we've reversed time and wound up back in the 1960's. Overt racism has run rampant, black people are protesting for their rights, and the American Nazi's are back. Thankfully, during the 60's, there were white people who found it important to be on the right side of history –– they were allies.
Although they weren't perfect, they used their privilege to help support the civil rights movement. A lot of change came about after the Civil Rights Movement, but as we know, there is still a lot more to do and those allies are still needed. Here are 13 ways to be a better ally.
Sometimes being a good ally just means being a hype man (or woman.) Even though you may have an understanding of a topic, and can sympathize with a struggle, you've never had to walk in the shoes of a member of that marginalized group.
Sometimes, what makes sense in your own head may be way off from the realities that a particular group may face. Listen with the goal of understanding, and allow their voices to the amplified. Following activists on social media is also a good idea and it will help you stay current on topics.
2. Remember that you are not there to give advice.
Marginalized groups have thought of every way to rise above, trust me. There is nothing that you can come up with that they haven't already tried and don't already do. It is also not your place to hush a member for a marginalized group for speaking out. This includes telling people how and when to protest. Members of the opposition already do that enough. Let the marginalized group lead their own resistance.
3. Understand your privilege and find ways to use it for the benefit of marginalized groups.
We all have some sort of privilege. And its our own job to figure out what it is and how to use it. There are things in this world that you can do, get away with, and are given based solely on skin color, gender or another factor. The fact that you are part of the oppressive group means you have power over many situations and the ability to help dismantle systematic oppression.
In this clip from Cracking the Codes, Joy DeGruy, talks about a time when someone was able to use their privilege to defend her during a racist confrontation.
4. Put your money where your mouth is.
Help fund and donate to marches and protests and support local businesses of the marginalized groups.
5. Understand that you can't be neutral. See something, say something!
There is no neutral when it comes to racism and injustice. If you see something that makes you uncomfortable, just imagine how the person being offended may feel. Often times things can be so offensive that its hard for a marginalized person to speak up. That's where you as an ally come in. Staying out of it is condoning it.
6. Stop saying that you are "colorblind."
Saying that your colorblind is saying that we are all the same. We are not all the same, and this idea of colorblindness was designed to make white people feel more comfortable. We have different histories, and cultures that shape who we are and how we think.
There is nothing wrong with seeing that someone is black or seeing that someone is Hispanic. We love who we are and we want you to notice that. You can't say that one's identity doesn't matter, while people are treated differently because of their identity.
Michael Norton, a professor at Harvard Business School came up with a game, similar to "Guess Who," to reveal how people react to racial differences. His results, weirdly enough, showed that too many people were afraid to acknowledge openly when someone was a different race than them.
7. Stop expecting your black friends to educate you.
Knowledge is power. Yes, you can learn a lot from those you know personally, but it's not the job of your black friends to educate you. Being a good ally means taking the time to research and find out what things negatively affect black and brown communities and what you can do to counteract those things. There are literally thousands of books, articles, documentaries and other resources out there. Go find them!
8. Deconstruct your own learned biases.
You can't be a proper ally if you yourself have a bias toward marginalized groups. Stereotypes are just that, stereotypes! We are all individual people. Though groups of people share commonalities, there is no reason as to which a person should paint an entire group of people. Also, don't think that you're free of bias because you have a "black friend."
9. Acknowledge things that you have done or said wrong.
Nobody is perfect, but it's very easy to learn from your own mistakes. If you get called out for something, instead of trying to defend what you said or did, just listen to why it was racist. When it comes to offending someone, remember that intent doesn't matter. How something is perceived is what's important.
10. Don't get defensive.
Dominant groups oppress minority groups. When members of the minority group express their hurt, outrage or self-love, stop taking it personally. It's not about you. When we say, Black Lives Matter, it doesn't mean that white lives don't. When we say black is beautiful. There is no need to tell us that you think "all colors" or that "all women" are beautiful.
11. Don't interrupt when black and brown people are talking to other black and brown people.
*But u should[n't] speak on this.
Understand that not everything is for you. Being an ally doesn't mean you are part of the community. *clears throat* Being invited to the cookout doesn't mean you're part of the community. Speaking of that, it is important to note that you can not just show up to the cookout uninvited and you can also be thrown out of the cookout at any time. So, watch it!
Remember that time back in 2015 when Nicki Minaj was snubbed at the VMA's for her duo with Beyonce and Anaconda video?
She took to Twitter to express how she felt about white artists walking home with trophies while she as black artist (and other Black artists) with similar works of art or art inspired by black and hip-hop culture couldn't even get a nomination.
Now, regardless of whether or not you like her music, you couldn't have denied the popularity of both works. And then self-proclaimed woman's woman, Taylor Swift decided the earth revolved around her and that her feelings were important. Don't be like Taylor.
12. Don't just talk about it. Be about it. Show up and get others to show up.
It's not enough to simply not do and say racist things. You actually have to actively work towards ending oppression. There is a big difference between not being racist and actually taking part in tearing down racism. "Ally" is a verb, as well as a noun, which means you actually need to do stuff.
13. Don't be afraid to call out your racist family and friends.
Recognize the importance of calling out the normalization of racism in order to dismantle it. It will make others think twice about their actions and comments. And remember that slurs are not situational. They aren't okay, even sometimes.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” - Martin Luther King Jr.