For the rest of the year and for good
George Floyd’s appalling killing on May 25th has brought a new opportunity to talk about race and make lasting change to the world. There are plenty of ways white people can stand up and be an ally to the black community and they shouldn’t feel nervous about saying the ‘wrong’ thing, or worry it’s not their conversation to have, because in the words of Meghan Markle, ‘The only wrong thing to say is to say nothing, because George Floyd’s life mattered’.
Being an ally means seeing race and acknowledging that white people have a racial identity. Black people have been suffering at the hands of systemic racism for decades and put simply, it is imperative that this changes with immediate effect. ‘Having a desire for change is different than having a commitment to change,’ Rise Up singer Andra Day tells Time magazine. And so, when attention has wavered and the protest signs are put down, what is next?
We’ve collated 10 ways to be an active ally and do good. And do better.
1. Check in on your black friends, family, partners, loved ones and colleagues
But don’t ask them how they are – that’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Instead, ‘tell them about the research you’ve done, suggest to them new places to donate, reassure them with how you’ve addressed the topic in white only spaces,’ TV producer Hanna Davis tells Marie Claire .
2. Understand and accept that white privilege exists
Whiteness – specifically white power – sits at the heart of racism. This is why white people are described as privileged. Privilege does not simply refer to financial or socio-economic status. It means living without the consequences of racism. ‘Understand that coming to terms with your own privilege will not be a pretty or fun experience. It is necessary to feel feelings of guilt, shame and anger throughout the process’ – Mireille C Harper.
3. Become anti-racist through reading
‘In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist’ – Angela Davis. Work towards this through reading books including Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad and How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi.
4. Donate to worthy causes
Support these brilliant organisations with funding – any contribution makes a valid difference
1. Black Lives Matter: secure.actblue.com
2. Stand Up To Racism: standuptoracism.org.uk
3. Join Campaign Zero: joincampaignzero.org
4. Support The Equal Justice Initiative: support.eji.org
5. The Bail Project: bailproject.org
5. Change your language
Former attorney Janee Woods Weber tells Root about using words carefully, discarding the media’s vocabulary of ‘riot’ and ‘looting’ and instead, describing events following yet another police brutality incident as ‘a justified rebellion’.
6. Listen, watch and read the news – from diverse media sources
It’s no secret the media has political persuasions and therefore it can influence your opinion on worldwide matters. Absorbing news from diverse media sources helps to shape your awareness, understanding and thinking about political, economic and social issues.
7. Attend mass demonstrations
Protesting is so fundamental for human rights and democratic society, and by attending public demonstrations for George Floyd and for the Black Lives Matter movement, we are all peacefully showing that there are thousands of people who think the same things – and who care.
8. Support on social media
While the black Instagram box faced criticism for being a viral trend without action, it showed widespread solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement, galvanized by the death of George Floyd. The original idea behind the social media ‘blackout’ came from Black executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, who wanted musicians and businesses to use the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused in order to shine a spotlight on the BLM movement. It goes without saying that actions speak louder than words (or images), but social media is powerful place, and hashtags, voices and support should be used widely and often.
9. Turn to books for knowledge
Black people across the globe have been experiencing inequities and systems of oppression throughout history. For white people, it’s a privilege to be able to educate yourself about racism, rather than experiencing it. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas are just some of the excellent books to turn to during this important time.
10. Challenge your company
Many brands have been showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, but in reality, are they doing enough? Be an ally by calling on your business leaders to act if minority colleagues feel uncomfortable and check to see if your workplace is creating opportunities and jobs for diverse professionals. Also, offer to help create spaces that are for people of colour only to connect.