Emily F. Asks:
I definitely believe there a white people out there that empathize with the black struggle. Throughout history, there have been white allies in the fight for racial equality. I think, now, a lot of white people aren’t sure the part they should be playing. They might now want to seem too eager and take away from the movement but know that sitting back not saying anything is a problem.
The best thing an ally can do, is listen. Our community is still mobilizing, figuring out how to go about our own liberation, socially, economically, politically, psychologically, etc. There is so much work to be done.
When your help is needed/asked, listen to what is being said and try to act accordingly. Do not justify an action or words with “oh well I didn’t mean to…” or “But I’m not racist…”
Just no. Listen, and start from there.
I think that in order to be a better ally to anyone in general, it’s important to try to put ourselves in the person’s shoes.
In order to be able to do that, we first need to:
1. Spend time with them to get to know how they do things and why they do them. When you spend time with someone, you get to immerse yourself in their world, which helps you learn about the things they do differently on a day to day basis and you also learn about how they think and why they think the way that they do.
2. Ask questions no matter how dumb you think the question is when you don’t understand something. Asking questions is the only way to deepen your understanding of things and of people. Too many people are afraid of asking questions because they think that doing so is a sign of weakness or because they fear the reaction of others. I believe that the more questions you ask someone about themselves, the deeper your understanding of who they are will become.
If white people want to be good black allies, I think they first have to understand that they do not have all of the answers. They have to understand that they are not the savior. A lot of times, that is what gets well meaning white people in trouble. They want to swoop in and save the day. Take a seat in the back, let us drive the movement, and jump up when needed.
In everyday life, I think there are endless ways to be an ally that may seem small and insignificant but truly make a difference. Speaking up, which I find many white people do not do and to me it shows that they are cool with what is going on. Speak up, show your white friends and family that you do not cosign these terrible acts.