Becoming a Better Ally

Since my last post about a month ago, we’ve seen a lot of change and awakening take place in our country. After the senseless killing of George Floyd (and countless other innocent Black people), a lot of people have opened their eyes to the difficult reality that racism is still prevalent in today’s world. Many white people (myself included) have begun to face the uncomfortable truth of our own privilege and fragility, and are realizing how much we still have to learn and unlearn in order to be better allies.

Although I’ve had a lot of one-on-one conversations on the subject during this time, I’ve kept fairly quiet on social media in the last month. While I wholeheartedly support the Black Lives Matter movement, I didn’t want to be another white voice flooding social media feeds in a time when we need to amplify Black voices. However, as Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” I have spent a lot of this time listening, researching, reflecting inward and looking for ways to help (and, of course, having to explain to others why “all lives matter” is not a thing).

I want to be a better ally and a better friend. This racist and corrupt system, responsible for the deaths of so many, cannot continue to exist as is. We need real change — but not just on the outside. Non-Black people need to realize their own biases and do the inner work. It may be uncomfortable to recognize prejudices within yourself, but this is nothing compared to the generations of violence and systemic racism that Black people have faced.

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There is so much that I still don’t know, and I am guaranteed to say the wrong thing at the wrong times, but I am committed to learning and broadening my perspective. For those of you who are trying to focus on anti-racism work as well, I wanted to share some resources I’ve found helpful in this time. (Please share your own in the comments as well!)

Start with this list of 97 things white people can do for racial justice.

This list is constantly being updated with new information and links, and is incredibly helpful. One of my focuses right now is to write letters to my legislators to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug crimes.

Learn how to Talk About Race.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture has created a Talking About Race educational portal with free resources to help you reflect. They have content geared toward educators, parents and caregivers, and others committed to equity.

Read books by Black authors.

And while anti-racism books are great and should absolutely be on our reading lists, these are obviously not the only books written by Black authors. Choose a genre that you love and discover a new favorite writer.

Check out and support Black artists and businesses.

Brit+Co has a great list of 18 Black female creatives whose work is making a difference.

Talk to your kids about racial justice.

It’s important to start having these conversations early on. This list includes 20 picture books to teach children about racism and the fight for change.

Learn about racism in Hollywood.

I have always been a fan of classic Hollywood movies, but it has always been hard to grapple with the extremely problematic depictions of people of color in many of those films. You Must Remember This, a podcast series about the secrets of Hollywood’s first century, dives into the racism of Disney’s Song of the South in a six-part series. I had never seen the movie, so I didn’t know much about its history or how its actors were treated. You can check out the episodes here or wherever you get your podcasts — I went through them all in one weekend.

Watch documentaries.

Recently, I watched 13th on Netflix, which dives into the inherent racism of our prison systems. I also watched The Invisible Vegan on Prime Video, which focuses on veganism and plant-based living in Black communities. Both are worth the watch. I’d love any suggestions you have as well!

Listen to Black voices.

I can’t stress this enough. One of the most eye-opening articles I’ve read in this time was from Rachel Cargle, an educator on unpacking racism. She wrote about toxic white feminism, and how feminism can quickly become “white supremacy in heels.” If you’d prefer to listen to a podcast, I found this episode with Ibram X. Kendi on building an anti-racist world to be a powerful one.

My journey has only just gotten started, and I am by no means an expert on this subject, but I wanted to share the tools and resources that I have found helpful in this time. I’d love to know what you are doing to be more actively anti-racist and a better ally! Let us know in the comments below.

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