How To Be A Better Ally

in , by The Classic Brunette, 10:00:00 PM

The events of the last few weeks are hopefully the start to some major changes in the US. I stand with the black community, and in my journey to be a better ally I think it's my responsibility to share this on my platforms. Some have said this "isn't my place" and that I should stick to writing about lighter things, but I think this qualifies enough as "lifestyle." And if you aren't interested in reading this post, then go ahead and skip, but if you're uncomfortable with the topic on any level I suggest you continue reading!

Although I'm definitely not perfect, I would like to say I'm a pretty well-informed individual. My parents raised me with the knowledge that racism is out there and people are unjustly judged not only for who they are, but where they come from and what they look like. My mother and her family were immigrants (from England, so still #privilege) and didn't always get the best treatment, so I was always taught to be kind to everyone and never judge someone based on superficial means. My hometown, although majority white, has a wealth of diversity, especially at my high school. In college I studied history and my thesis focused on the racial and religious tension of the black community in 1800s New Orleans through Catholicism and Voodoo. Through this I began to open myself up to the history of Black oppression. I feel I am versed enough in the subject to be a good, although always learning, ally. 


I've been spending my time recently trying to learn the best ways I can actively show my support for the movement, and learning how to be a better ally to the Black community. No matter if you're starting this journey from the very beginning or if you've been in this mindset for a while, these tips are helpful to keep in mind! 


Listen


When you don't know what to say, listen. When someone is sharing their story with you, listen. When you want to share your opinion but it isn't your place, listen. If we don't allow the oppressed to speak, how will they ever get their own voice? We need to listen to Black people right now because their voices, experiences, and opinions are the ones that matter most in this movement. 


Speak Out


In contrast, as allies we also have to do our part by speaking out when we see injustice. This doesn't always mean an in-person scenario, it can also mean calling out brands when they have a lack of diversity, messaging a friend with information after they posted a video that was controversial/racist on social media, etc. Speaking out is going to be hard, especially for those of us who are not used to it (myself included!) but change is hard!


Educate Yourself


If you have questions, ask them! But before contacting your Black friend(s), maybe just ask google or crack open a book. I'm sure your friends will be willing to answer a question or two, but it isn't Black people's responsibility to educate you. Would you want to be questioned about the ways your race has been systematically oppressed and discriminated against? I'm sure it wouldn't be the most fun conversation, especially if you're asked the same questions over and over. So please take your education upon yourself! There's an infinite amount of resources out there on Black history and the struggles of Black people that will probably be able to answer most questions you have. 


Accept Your Privilege 


The concept of white privilege was something that took me longer to understand than I want to admit. For a long time I thought "Yes I'm white, but I've had horrible things happen to me in life. How am I privileged?" but I didn't get it. My privilege wasn't in what life threw at me, but what my skin color granted me without my knowledge. My whiteness meant I didn't get dirty looks on the street, I was more likely to get a job, I was being listened to more often than my Black and other POC counterparts. In many ways white privilege is a form of ignorance from everyday oppression because our skin color automatically grants us more acceptance than others.


Be Kind


I know there are situations in which kindness no longer works to achieve change, but please before anything else be kind. Assume ignorance instead of hate and educate instead of argue. I've found people are much more willing to listen and adapt their point of view when you approach with kindness. 


Donate (Time, Money, etc)


If you have the means to do so please consider donating money to one of many causes. Here is a HUGE list of BLM causes, so I'm sure one or more will speak to you! If you can't donate right now consider donating in a different way. You can spend your time participating in a protest if you're brave and healthy (remember Corona is still happening!). Or if you would like something a little less "involved" consider making calls or emailing your representatives on behalf of the movement. Another option is signing petitions for change. HERE is a great website with a number of resources for direct action. 


Adapt When You Are Wrong


We are always learning and the world is always changing. These changes can happen fast (for example when allies flooded the #blacklivesmatter hashtag with black squares while trying to raise awareness, but actually blocked crucial information about the movement...whoops!) so don't be surprised or too upset at yourself if you make a mistake. Accept, apologize, learn, and adapt your mindset and actions. 


How are you actively trying to be a better ally?


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