A white girl’s humble guide to being a better ally

The time to do better is yesterday. Get to work now.

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This blog post doesn’t need an introduction. There is no appropriate way to have a snappy, funny opening before diving into an incredibly heavy topic, such as offering a simple guide to being a better ally.

Black people are routinely killed on our streets in the US.

Many of them don’t get any public attention. The ones that do have to fight tooth and nail to have their stories heard. This is not a new phenomenon. This has been going on for decades. Centuries. What we see now in our country is a direct result of a nation built on slavery. It’s a system that permeates with injustice. 

White People: If you’re feeling uncomfortable, good. If you’re feeling tired, good. If you’re feeling there must be something more you can do, there is.

Racism is not something that is unlearned overnight. It takes years of active anti-racism work, and as White people, our time is up for doing the work. We have sat on our heels long enough. No more time. No more waiting. It is on all of us, and we have a lot of making up to do, so let’s start with the basics. Here is our guide to being a better ally.

1. Stop harassing Black people

I mean this in every sense of the word. Yes, stop physically harassing Black people (obviously) but also, stop mentally harassing Black people.

The Black community is grieving. They are TIRED. How do I know this? Because they are telling us over and over again and LOUDLY. They are begging us to stop sharing traumatic images of George Floyd as he takes his last breath. They are asking us to get out of their DM’s with unnecessary messages of sympathy from strangers. They are pleading for just a tiny corner of their mind not to be filled with White people.

If you want to support the Black community, simply shut up and listen.

Listen to their lived experiences with everyday racism, and when they speak, don’t make it about you. This is not a time for your white guilt to show up. This is not a time to relate to their issues. This is a time for you to acknowledge their pain and how you contribute to systematic oppression, which as a White person, you do whether you like it or not.

We all saw the video of Amy Cooper, who called the cops on Christian Cooper, a Black man who asked her to leash her dog. Every White woman I know let out a collective sigh of disappointment as we shunned her deplorable actions. But as white women, we have a responsibility to look at Amy Cooper and ask not how could she have done this, but how am I like her? How are the women I know and respect like here? It’s easy to distance from her, but it’s essential to look inward and pinpoint when precisely we have wielded our power as White people over others. 

Before you do anything, resist all urge to message a Black person asking them to explain things to you. This is a problem that was caused by White people. This is our problem to solve and it’s long overdue to get to work.

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White supremacy is a system of structural and societal racism which privileges white people over everyone else, regardless of the presence or absence of racial hatred. White racial advantages occur at both a collective and an individual level. We just updated this chart, which presents *some* of the ways people practice and reinforce white supremacy that they may not be aware of, or even think of as “white supremacy”. If you are unsure of what any of these terms mean, please feel free to look them up. There is an abundance of scholarship and research on each of these things. Image Source: Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (2005). Adapted: Ellen Tuzzolo (2016); Mary Julia Cooksey Cordero (@jewelspewels) (2019); The Conscious Kid (2020). #AntiRacism #AntiRacist #TeachersOfInstagram #WhitePrivilege

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2. First things first: Learn to use Google

Dismantling white supremacy is not quick and easy work, which is why the ideal time to get started on this is yesterday. Destroying systems of oppression does not come about from sharing a few posts on social media.

It requires consistent work and self-education.

As tempted as you might be to reach out to your “Black friend” and ask them to help you learn, check yourself.

It is not the job of a Black person to educate you, especially when there are thousands of free resources at your fingertips.

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WHITENESS IN THE OUTDOORS. I’ve had this idea in my head for a while now and the recent events in the news, specifically the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man hunted down by two white men on a jog led me to spend the past few days listening and learning from people of color, specifically African Americans in the outdoors. . This post is my attempt as an imperfect white person with privilege to take action and encourage other white people to do the same because there’s no “outdoors for all” when racism exists. As a white person, I can’t speak to the unique experiences of marginalized groups surrounding race, so this is my attempt to amplify the voices of POC in the outdoors. . Thank you for reading. I’m always seeking to improve my skill of allyship as I’m not an expert in this and I am open to constructive feedback. . SHARE- Feel free to share, but if you do, please tag the people of color you see mentioned on each page as this is information compiled by me but told by them. . SAVE- Please don’t just read this once and move on but save this as a resource to come back to and reread. . CHALLENGE- read and then reread and then comment a friend, an outdoor leader, sponsored athlete or brand you think would benefit from seeing this too. . Credit to @alisonmdesir @_lassosafroworld, @teresabaker11, @she_colorsnature, @courtneyahndesign, @katieboue @naturechola, @vasu_sojitra, @skynoire, @ava, @chescaleigh @guantesolo and ellen tozolo

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Here’s the challenge: Anytime you need clarification on something racist, google it. Here are a few examples.

  • You know that imitating accents is racists, but you’re not quite sure why. Google it.
  • You understand why people are protesting peacefully, but you’re not sure why things are getting violent. Google it.
  • You know that personally, as a White person, you struggled through hardships throughout your life, so why don’t you get special treatment too? Google it.
  • If you have thought, “I’m tired of being demonized for my ethnicity” as a white politician who has been elected to a uniformly white cabinet? Google it. (Looking at you Judith Collins)
  • Slavery happened hundreds of years ago, so you’re not quite sure why Black people are still going on about oppression? Google It.
  • If the thought crossed your mind that MLK was a peaceful protestor, and we need more people like him. Google it.
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Do you see how this works? It’s easy.

I’m not trying to be an asshole here; I’m just trying to highlight that before you give your opinion on any subject regarding race, give yourself 10 minutes to research it and form an educated opinion before opening your mouth. It’s so easy and free, and literally, anyone with the internet can do it.

Educate yourself first.

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3. Understand this is not about you

If you have a human beating heart, you should have felt it breaking into a million pieces as every news broadcast showed George Floyd suffocating under the knee of a white officer begging for his mother and his life.

You would have felt pain. You would have felt discomfort. You would have felt tired of seeing this shit on television again and again and again.

Sit with that pain and understand it, but don’t forget that this experience is not about you and your pain.

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#justiceforgeorgefloyd #blacklivesmatter

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If you felt tired from seeing that clip over and over, imagine what it would be like to be his family. His friends. Black communities are who are reminded daily that the guarding forces of our country do not have their best interest in mind. Black communities are carrying generations of racism and oppression on their shoulders every day. They carry an inherited trauma we can’t begin to understand as white people.

Do not make their pain about you.

No one chooses their race. I may not have chosen to be White, but I benefit every day from my race. As a white person, I will always have the ability to opt-out of the conversation with my silence.

Make the right choice.

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when we are given a directive we don’t really want to do we will be as literal as is humanely possible. Know how kids will do the limited specific thing you said even though it is CLEAR that you were speaking about all the dishes in the sink and not just the one plate from the morning they ate off? that is how far too many white folks act when asked to DO SOMETHING ABOUT WHITE SUPREMACIST VIOLENCE. All of a sudden your interpretation is so specific and so literal as to never have to do anything. PLEASE STOP IT! JOIN A DIRECT ACTION GROUP. JOIN OR START A SHOWING UP FOR RACIAL JUSTICE (SURJ) Chapter in your community. from a line of white protestors in front of the police in the protests happening in your city RIGHT NOW. START A PROTEST! GO TO YOUR POLICE STATION AND DEMAND TO SEE THE REPORTS OF OFFICER COMPLAINTS AND DEMAND FIRINGS. CALL YOUR DA EVERYDAMNDAY AND ASK WHY OFFICERS HAVE NOT BEEN CHARGED! FIND OUT THE RECORD OF YOUR POLICE CHIEF, DA, ELECTED OFFICIALS REGARDING RACIAL JUSTICE AND CAMPAIGN TO GET SHITTY ONES OUT OF OFFICE. THE LIST OF BODY RELATED ACTIVITIES WHERE YOUR WHITENESS HAS LEVERAGE ARE INEXHAUSTIBLE. COME ON Y’ALL. STOP BEING INTENTIONALLY OBTUSE AND GO DO THE DAMN WORK WITH YOUR BODY. Stop making Black people work this damn hard for you to fix YALLS problem. Stop. #georgefloyd #whitesupremacy #blacklivesmatter #minneapolis #minnesota #whitesgettowork

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4. When you do something good, keep it to yourself

We all seek approval from others at times. We all want to be admired and applauded by our peers. It’s ingrained in our capitalistic society to be the best and to flaunt it, so here’s your challenge: When you do something good — and you will do something useful — keep it to yourself.

If you are going to post it on social media, ask yourself why. Are you seeking approval and attention, or will your post actually support the cause you are fighting for?

I’m not saying you can’t share your participation in the protests or the work you’re doing, but before you do, just simply take five minutes to examine why you are doing it.

Is it meant for your white friends to encourage them to follow suit? Is it meant for your Black friends to prove you’re one of the good ones? Be honest.

Doing the work of dismantling white supremacy is a thankless job, so put away your expectations for praise and simply get to work.

5. Stop posting, get reading

Sharing posts on social media is fine, but let’s be clear, it is not activism.

Activism takes work. It takes sacrifice. Reposting a few Instagrams here and there will not change anything. As White people, the change starts with ourselves by examining how we contribute to a racist society.

The good news is there are thousands of free resources to help you get started on anti-racism work. Commit to 30 minutes a day and start your free education now.

The guide above was compiled by two White women and is jam-packed with information for your easy consumption. There are resources for raising anti-racist children, podcasts, books, articles, videos, movies, and so much more.

Commit to getting through the entire document even if it takes you a year.

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There are many Black women and men on social media doling out free education on systematic oppression. They have done the work for you and have taken the time to clearly explain how routine oppression works and how we all play a part in it.

If you follow these people who often offer free education, you do so understanding they never owe you anything. They don’t owe you further explanations. They don’t owe you a response as you play the devil’s advocate. They don’t owe any answers at all. If you follow them and you learn something, pay them.

Most will share their PayPal, Patreon, or Venmo details and would appreciate your monetary contributions. Listen to them. Amplify them. And leave them the hell alone.

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Black Care over Black Consumption: A thread ?? . . . Compensation over Consumption: PayPal: alysonjt90 Venmo: AlysonThompson Cash App: AlysonThompson

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These are the people I follow who are doing incredible work, both in fighting for justice and their respective fields.

While they often educate their following on social justice, they are so much more than that. They are scientists, environmentalists, photographers, journalists, athletes.

They are Black men and women who are fighting for their lives. Follow them too!

The time to get to work is long overdue.

We shouldn’t have to be compiling hand-holding guides to end racism in 2020, but here we are. We all have work to do, myself included. As you move through your anti-racisms work, know you will make mistakes. Unlearning decades of systematic oppression takes time and effort, and you’ll often get it wrong. When you do, own it. Apologize without getting defensive.

Listen to the people who are correcting you. Move on and continue to learn.

What do you have to add to this guide to being a better ally? Any creatives or activists whose work has enlightened you? Share. 

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