Originally uploaded: 30th May 2020
Edited: 16th May 2020
I'm writing this - shorter - blog post for myself, as well as people to understand what it means to be an 'ally.' I purposely say 'people' because this is not just for non-black individuals but for institutions, especially those who run and roam within those spaces. For the pastors, teachers, youth workers etc. - you guys need to be having these conversations. It for the black community and by this I mean the African diaspora - Africans, Caribbeans, black Americans, black Britons, Afro Latino etc. - to band together, despite differences, and support each other.
To be an ally, it is not something that needs to be stated or voted on, it something that requires action. I stress this, to suggest it is not just a label with rules and regulations but rather an orientation towards justice.
If you are reading this, there is a high probability you are white. Thus, as a person benefiting from systemic racism, it is important to recognise your privilege and systematically ingrained biases. It is not to belittle your struggle, but rather to suggest the pigmentation of your skin is not the cause of your struggle.
Sandra Bland. Stephen Lawrence. Mark Duggan. Treyvon Martin.
Do you know these names and do they mean anything to you? Do you remember their stories? It is one thing to remember them as victims to systemic and evil racism but it is another to remember them as individual beings with individual experiences. Each of them had hopes, dreams, loved ones who deeply cared about them. Do not glorify their murder by remembering it before remembering them.
This is not just about a hashtag, repost or retweet. To fight against the injustices of this world requires actions behind your words. It requires consistency and commitment in your actions. In other words, I mean donate. I mean support. I mean rally. I mean protest. I mean sign petitions. I mean use your access to get us, the black community, into the room.
Do not copy the words of black people or your black friends as a means of your own. You did not discover the problem, you are not 'woke'. There is a difference between appropriation and appreciation. In doing the former, you are glorifying yourself as a '[white] saviour' rather than drawing attention to the situation at hand. Amplify the voices that are already speaking.
Have you checked on your black friends? Are you having open conversations with them about racism? Are you allowing them to express their feelings and experiences? Just because you haven't seen racist things happen to them or they haven't talked about racism with you, doesn't mean it isn't happening. You do not need to verify or rationalise their experiences or watch more black people being murdered to understand this is our reality. Just listen.
It is not the duty of black people to teach non-black people about racism. This goes for the diaspora as well. In our own experiences of racism and trauma, we need not to compare but to learn and support. Familiarise yourself with texts, podcasts, novels, documentaries, conversations by the black community. Watch the news with an open mind - there are bias within the media. Do your own research. Learn about systemic and institutional racism as well as police brutality, educational bias and micro-aggression you may still hold.