How To Be An Effective Ally Online And Offline To The Black Community
© Illustration by INJECTION
It is time to speak up and be actively anti-racist in allyship of black people.
Showing up as an ally and being anti-racist as a non-black person is extremely crucial right now. Stop being silent about racism, start using your voice on- and offline, demand justice and take action. Racism is taught and internalized. We must take time to unlearn and dismantle racism and racial bias. It is time to listen, to learn and to use our (white) privilege to help and educate others. Allyship is not a one week performative act. A true ally is someone who is morally aligned and actively doing things to support underrepresented and mistreated communities. This goes beyond signing petitions, donating money or posting a black square to your Instagram feed. We have put together simple Do’s and Don’ts for effective allyship.
1. Change The Way You Think
Start with self-reflection and ask yourself what are the things that I have ignored or assumed about BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color). What are certain parts of yourself that have supported racism? Nowadays, with Google, unlimited access to the internet and social media, you have really no excuse not to educate yourself. Listen to constructive criticism and learn from your own mistakes. You can learn through movies, books, podcasts, social media, documentaries, TV shows, friends or family. But don’t expect black people to educate you, they do not owe you. To expect black people to explain themselves and their struggles to you is an example of white supremacy.
2. Call-Out Racist Comments and Problematic Microaggressions
Be vocal and commit to using your voice and speaking up against racism. It is about cultural change, changing people’s attitude and their “subtle jokes”. It doesn’t matter if only white people are present in that conversation. Just because something doesn’t directly impact you doesn’t mean that you should turn away from the problem. Have that uncomfortable conversation and be that one person that speaks up! Start with your inner circle, call-out your friends, family members, co-workers and teachers. Staying silent in a situation like this makes racism only worse. Stop them from making racist jokes and from using racial slurs such as saying or singing the n-word. Remind them and don’t let them get away with this.
3. Amplify Black Voices
It is time to amplify black voices, to listen up to them and to start sharing their work and perspectives. On social media, you can shout out your favorite black-owned businesses, black authors, activists, creatives and influencers. Give credit to their work and spread their messages directly from the source, so their thoughts and ideas are heard in their own voice. It helps black people to reach a new and wider audience. Listen and don’t invalidate other people’s experiences and feelings. But make sure that you are not continuing a cycle of tokenism with your actions.
4. Talk About Racism With Other Non-Black People
When it comes to talking about race, there is a fear of saying something wrong, a fear of offending someone and as a consequence a fear of being accused of racism. As Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Everybody makes mistakes. It is important that you learn from them and have the courage to speak up instead of being scared of getting accused as a racist person. Some white people assume that issues of racism only concern people who aren’t white. Wrong! Educate your white peers, racism is a worldwide problem. As mentioned above, it is not the job of black people to do so. Educate your friends, family and followers. Be actively involved online and offline, it doesn’t matter if you have 5 or 100’000 followers. Share what you have learned with each other and be ready to have uncomfortable conversations. You hold power and privilege in these situations. Use it wisely in times of injustice. Remember that race isn’t a topic that should only be addressed after a racial injustice. This isn’t just a trending topic. Continue to be proactive rather than reactive.
5. Don’t Compare Racism To Other Struggles You Have Experienced
Don’t make this about you. By doing so, you are putting yourself at the center of an issue that has nothing to do with you. Don’t prioritize your struggles over racial discrimination. Racism requires prejudice and power, whereas a white person may face prejudice, which is not racism since their race is in power. White people can try to emphasize, but they will never be able to understand what other people have to go through simply because of their skin color. It is crucial that you understand that. White people are not in the position to say what is okay and what is not.
6. Don’t Be The White Savior
The black community has the lead in this situation, remember that you are an ally and not their savior. You are not rescuing them from their own situation of injustice. This is a situation created by white people. Black people are the ones taking damage from it. Listen and amplify their voices. As an ally you are making an effort to lessen the hurt that has been caused. Don’t give yourself a gold medal for doing what you are supposed to do.