What Can I Do? Empowering Allies in Tumultuous Times

Office with black woman talking to white man and black man
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Guest Post by Jackie Fergurson from The Diversity Movement

There is unrest in America right now. Many are grappling with how to process these events and with how to protect our children among systems of racial inequity that continue to mistreat us.  On a personal level, I am sending my 18-year-old Black daughter into the pre-adulthood of university life.  And there is a different fear for me that for the mothers of her White classmates. Several of them have asked me, “what can I do?” as the inequities of our justice system are glaringly apparent to more than just the marginalized.  During times of tragedy, there are opportunities for allyship. Each of us can use our voice, our influence, our platform and our power to make a difference.

What does it mean to be an ally? 

An ‘ally’ is someone who has privilege but chooses to stand for and with marginalized communities by taking tangible, ongoing actions to dismantle systems of oppression.  Being an ally means working to develop empathy towards another group’s challenges or issues — and, ultimately, helping to create a culture in which that group feels valued.  It means that you carry the burden of one or more marginalized groups as your own.

Who can be an ally?

Anyone has the potential to be an ally. Allies recognize that though they are not a member of the marginalized group(s) they support, they make a concerted effort to better understand the struggle, every single day.  Because an ally might have more privilege (and recognizes said privilege), they are powerful voices alongside marginalized ones.  Being an ally is hard work. Many of those who want to be allies are afraid of missteps that get them labeled as “-ist” or “-ic” (racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, etc). But as an ally, you are also affected by a system of oppression. This means that as an ally, there is much to unlearn and learn—mistakes are expected.

What can you do right now to make an impact? 

Listen. For allies who do not know where to start, the most meaningful thing one can do is listen to the voices of those who are often silenced. Even though you feel empathy for a situation, you can’t fully understand experiences that you don’t live. The best way to learn is to listen. Ask others if they are okay.

Educate yourself.  It is not the job of Black people to educate White people about racial injustice.  Do the work of seeking out books and documentaries and articles and allow yourself to learn from them.  In doing this, you give yourself a cultural baseline to then have meaningful conversations around race with others that will provide you deeper insights and expand empathy that lead to action.

Talk to your children. They are our hope for a better future. Talk about current events. Share your feelings with them of sadness, anger and frustration. Diversify their reading and movie lists. Call out racism and bias when you see it in the media. Don’s shy away from difficult conversations. Be an example for them. It’s ok to not have all the answers. Allies just stay in search of them.

Speak up. By now, we have all heard Angela Davis’ quote, “It’s not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” We do that by speaking up! Make your position known. This is not ok. Speak up in your family and friend groups. Speak up on your social media platforms. Speak up at the voting polls-locally and nationally.  Participate in peaceful protests and demonstrations. Call and write your legislators. Not just during the weeks of incidents where people are having the conversations. This is your conversation.

Nurture truth-telling relationships. We cannot become allies alone.  We need the insights, perspectives, support and challenge of relationships where there is a shared commitment to speak our truths and hear each other all the way through, no matter how uncomfortable the revelations may make us.

Give back.  Use your privilege to provide information and access to those who need it. Mentor someone in an underserved community. Donate to or volunteer with an organization that aligns with your personal advocacy on these issues.  Encourage others to do the same. In doing this, you are able to create significant impact on a local scale.

Below, we have provided a quick resource list. This list is not meant to be comprehensive or exhaustive, by any means, but is simply provided as starting resources to provide perspectives that help you become an ally.

Articles

From TED.com – Why We Need to Call Out Casual Racism

From CNN.com – A Guide to How You Can Support Marginalized Communities

From TED.com – How We Can Be an Ally in the Fight for Racial Justice

From the Atlantic.com – Who Gets to Be Afraid in America?

Books

The links of the books below take you to Amazon.com
Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice by Paul Kivel
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating…by Derald Wing Sue
Understanding White Privilege: Creating Pathways to Authentic….by Frances Kendall

Books for Children (with Common Sense Media reviews)

The links of the books below take you to CopmmonSenseMedia.org
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
New Kid by Jerry Craft
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

Ted Talks

This links of the TED Talks below take you to TED.com
Racism has a Cost for Everyone by Heather C. McGhee
How We Can Make Racism a Solvable Problem by Phillip Atiba Goff
You Have the Rite by Marc Bamuthi Joseph
How to Deconstruct Racism, One Headline at a Time by Baratunde Thurston

Movies

The links to the three movies below take you to Netflix
13th
American Son
When They See Us

The link below takes you to Hulu
The Hate You Give

The links below take you to the title’s website and IMBD
I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin documentary)
12 Angry Men

Podcasts

The links in the three podcasts below take you to Apple.com
Code Switch
Intersectionality Matters!
Diversity: Beyond the Checkbox

The link to the podcast below takes you to the author’s website
Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast

Follow

Equal Justice Initiative (EJI): Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
Colorlines: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
United We Dream: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ): Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

The Diversity Movement is also actively exploring ways to participate in actions for systemic change in our society. As such, we are making our eLearning module on Unconscious Bias, part of Diversity: Beyond the Checkbox online course (module valued at $250) available for $19 through June 30, 2020. 100% of the proceeds will go to North Carolina organizations that support, educate and empower underserved and marginalized communities in our fight for equality.

The Diversity Movement will also host a webinar entitled, Allyship and Processing Being Black in America, on Friday, June 5, 2020 at 12:00-1:00 pm EDT, with special guests: Donald ThompsonDanya Perry and Dr. Deborah Stroman that will explore topics around race and allyship and answer your questions live. We will also make a recorded version of this webinar available for those unable to attend. You can register here to attend.

Additionally, if your organization needs assistance in facilitating conversations with your staff, employee resource groups, or making a company-wide statement against racism, we want to help. Contact us at info@thediversitymovement.com today.

NOTE:

LCI Tech does not profit from the sale of any of the resources named in this article.

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