It would be an understatement to say that everything going on over the last few days has left me angry and heartbroken for the black community.
As a privileged white female, I will ever truly understand all that black Americans go through on a daily basis. I will never need to worry about walking alone while wearing a hoodie. I will never need to worry about my safety when a cop approaches me. I will never need to worry about being mistaken for shoplifting while at a store. I will never be worried to go for a jog. I will never be worried that anything bad will happen to me just because of the color of my skin. Those things don’t even occur to me.
The fact that the black community has suffered for centuries is a disgrace.
We can do better. We need to do better.
Before this, I would have already considered myself an ally, until I realized that there are so many other things that define an ally. And I’ll admit that I’m still trying to rewire my brain to rid myself of prejudices and stereotypes that the media has ingrained in me since birth. I still have a lot to learn, and I am learning daily.
But you know what I can do? What we all can do to be better allies?
We can listen to them. Listen to the black community’s struggles, their hardships, their anger, their frustration, their anguish. Listen to what they have to say. And listen fully. Do not listen with the intent to respond immediately after they finish speaking. Let it digest.
We can educate ourselves and others. Read books by black authors. Watch documentaries and movies on black culture. Listen to podcasts about black history (I recommend 1619). Share what you’re learning with others. Spread the knowledge.
We can stand up for them. If you hear any racist remarks or jokes, speak up. Tell people that what they’re saying is not okay. If you see any injustice happening, do something or tell someone.
We can spread the word about injustice. Share stories. Share news articles. Share petitions. Talk to your family and friends. Let others know that what is happening is not right.
We can support them. Support black businesses. Support black organizations. Support black artists. (This is a great resource). Not only that, but you should also no longer support organizations that do not promote equality and advocate for change.
Once you’ve done that, once you’ve become a lifelong ally to the black community, don’t stop there. Open your mind and heart to all other people who are different from you– people of different religions, races, sexualities, genders, disabilities.
Please don’t treat this like a phase. Please don’t sign petitions and then turn away once the protests are no longer on the news. Becoming an ally is not only for those times of injustice. Being an ally is a lifelong responsibility. And it is a responsibility that we all have as human beings.
We can do better.