Stand Back: Guidelines for White People at a Black Lives Matter Protest
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Stand Back: Guidelines for White People at a Black Lives Matter Protest

Sometimes, standing back is the best way to offer support.

1094
Stand Back: Guidelines for White People at a Black Lives Matter Protest
Eloise Sherrid

If you, like me, are a white person who supports Black Lives Matter, it is important to do so in a way that does not detract from the black community or the movement. Here are some things to keep in mind as a white person at a Black Lives Matter protest.

1. This is not about us

Do you feel angry? Sad? Good. But you are feeling that for members of the black community, not for yourself. Facebook, Twitter, your blog is a great place to vocalize those feelings and support the black community that way; please consider adding links to essays and articles on the topic that were written by black writers.

As white people, a Black Lives Matter protest is not the place for us to share those feelings; our role at a protest is to support the black community through our presence, through witnessing their feelings and emotions.

2. If a newspaper reporter seeks you out for a comment, direct them to a protest leader

If a TV station correspondent shoves a microphone in your face while the camera operator hovers behind them, direct them to a protest leader. This is not difficult to do:

“I am here to support the Black Lives Matter movement. [Name] or [name] would be able to provide you with more information regarding this protest and the movement.”

Direct them to leaders even if they phrase their question in a way that does not mention race (e.g., “How do you feel about gun control?” instead of “Are you advocating for gun control to protect the black community?”). If their questions had nothing to do with race, they wouldn’t direct them towards protesters supporting Black Lives Matter.

3. On a similar note, do not lead chants

Instead, support chants led by black people when appropriate. “Black lives matter” is an appropriate chant for us white people to join in on; “my life matters” is not. When we chant “my life matters,” that is similar to using #AllLivesMatter: the system already acknowledges the value of our (white) lives, so we are only directing attention away from the protest’s message. Pay attention to the chants and, if there’s one you can’t join in on, be assured that your presence, and your conscientiousness towards giving black voices prominence, is what is expected of you.

4. When at a protest, do not antagonize police

By verbally or physically antagonizing police, you are risking the safety of the black people and other people of color at that protest.

Non-whites will be subject to harsher treatment if the police respond with violence; this is the exact thing you are there to protest, and you are helping no one by egging law enforcement on. Follow the tone set by the organizers.

5. Because you are following the tone set by the organizers, do not police black protesters who express anger

Their anger, and hatred (if present), is justified. If you feel uncomfortable with it, it is better to quietly duck out of the protest, march, or rally. By "quietly," I mean do not tell people why you're leaving. If the organizers take issue with the tone of a group of protesters, the organizers can consult them; it is not your job to do so.

You are also welcome to leave if you sense oncoming violence or retaliation from law enforcement. However, you should try to alert those around you (and the organizers, if you can) before you leave: "That group of police are donning riot gear," "The cops one block up have pepper spray out."

6. Take photos of the protest, not of yourself

Use your camera to document police presence, especially police interactions with protesters. Try to get the badge numbers and faces of officers in your camera’s view. Do not post a stream self-congratulatory selfies to Facebook; there are enough white saviors in the world, and we do not need to add to that movement. We need to support this movement.

This is an excellent way to support the movement: for the same reason we are safer when violence occurs, we are less likely to have our phones confiscated than protestors of color. Though you are within your rights to record police, they may ignore that and physically force your phone from you, so it is safer to upload these photos and videos as you go.

7. Lastly, follow basic protest guidelines

Wear weather-appropriate clothing; carry food, water, and money yourself; note important phone numbers by writing them on your body (in case your phone is confiscated). Be aware of your rights, as well as any state laws that may differ from federal ones.

If you have any questions regarding the guidelines of a specific protest or march, please contact the organizers of that protest.



Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

24284
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

317198
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

198437
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

97780
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

289807

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.

174974

Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

116988
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

Take A Look At The Extravagant Lane Woods Jewelry Collection For Valentine's Gift Ideas

So if you are currently looking to purchase jewelry for yourself or as a romantic gift for your S.O., you should definitely look at the marvelous and ornately designed Lane Woods Jewelry collection

336392

Just like diamonds are a girl's best friend, so are pearls, rubies, gold, emeralds, and any type of luxurious jewelry you can get your hands on! A woman is incomplete without a piece of jewelry on her and it is a gorgeous accessory required for all occasions. So if you are currently looking to purchase jewelry for yourself or as a romantic gift for your S.O., you should definitely look at the marvelous and ornately designed Lane Woods Jewelry collection.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments