What does being an ally really look like?
Do you want to make the world a better place and help eliminate racism? Good intention is a first step, and the next is taking action. Being an ally is an on-going, life-long process. Here are some resources for your journey.
As a start, please do not pretend that you are colorblind and say that you do not see color. To be colorblind is to not see people for who they are, to diminish people of color and their heritage, to not see the very real differences in treatment that people experience as the result of skin color, and to advance the lie that equality already exists. Being colorblind is being inauthentic, accepting the racism that exists, and ignoring the work that has to be done to eliminate it. If you mean “I want to see you as a human being,” just say that.
To be a real ally, you must do the work of exploring and eliminating within you the racist ideas you’ve been taught. Read up on solutions that Black people have already identified rather than taking away their time and energy by asking for that information again. Learn how to walk beside people of color to take productive steps to eliminate racism.
It’s not enough to be “not racist.” Being an ally means committing to actively being “anti-racist” and having the courage to take action. That means stepping up to oppose and squash acts of racism between other people and within your personal and professional circles. It also means changing policies that create unintentionally or intentionally racist outcomes reinforced by the institutions where you work, shop/do business, practice faith, participate in democracy, and play. Being anti-racist means speaking up rather than staying silent. To be silent is to be a complicit accomplice to racism. Choose to be an “accomplice” for social, economic and environmental justice - including through systems change!
Finally, remember to really listen to, learn from, value, uphold and rally around the voices of people of color. Get more comfortable with having the hard conversations that make us face how much the racism of the past and the present is the same..We all need to do our part to change WHO is making decisions and HOW we make decisions. An anti-racism agenda must be centered so that the policies, systems and drive to address injustice can be re-designed to serve everyone. This means white allies must do their own work and heavy lifting to learn how to advance an anti-racist movement, so that Black people can get a rest...and have a chance to just breathe.
We encourage everyone to read the following resources to dig deeper and support you in this journey:
Racial Equity Tools: “Guidelines for Being Strong White Allies” adapted from Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Social Justice by Paul Kivel
Compilation of Anti-Racism Resources
“White people are speaking up at protests. How do we know they mean what they say?: Solidarity can be helpful - or it can be performative.” by Stacey Patton (Washington Post)
Opening a door - another form of solidarity. “DC resident offers refuge to nearly 100 protesters” and “‘I opened a door’: D.C. man shelters dozens of protesters from police” (Youtube videos)