You Need to be an Ally

todayJune 1, 2020 41

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By Brittany Anderson
Assistant Web Content Manager

I know you watch the news. I know you’ve been scrolling on Twitter. So, it feels counterintuitive and a bit gross to write about anything else but what is going on.

Police brutality has existed for years. It’s well documented. It’s 2020; it’s time to accept that this is an undeniable reality for black Americans. Recognizing your position of privilege comes with navigating ways to be more than just supportive, but using your voice and power to create and incite lasting change.

I write this not as a way to talk over black voices, but to share things that have helped me — a white woman — talk about and combat racism.

Sit down. Shut up. Listen.

Self-explanatory. If you are not black, check yourself and do those three things before inserting yourself into specific conversations about prejudices you have never and will never experience.

Educate yourself and others.

Reposting things you learn online is important, but you still might find yourself or someone in your life not fully understanding some of the nuances of how racism inserts itself into everyday life. What is systemic racism? Do you participate in using coded language? How has whiteness played a part in your experience with police officers, the education system, or job interviews?

Seek out and listen to black creators: writers, directors, artists, speakers. Be active in educating yourself. Don’t rely on anyone to spoon-feed you things you need to know.

Stand in solidarity.

Literally and figuratively. Protests are one of the most effective agents of change. Getting out in the streets and yelling for what’s right with strangers is a powerful, moving experience. It also forces attention from lawmakers and corporations. They have the power to enact societal changes, but so do we.  

COVID-19 is still a thing, so putting yourself in a big crowd might not be your first plan of action. There are still ways to show solidarity from home. Donate what you can to organizations and victim funds, sign petitions and contact elected officials. This is an excellent resource.

Most importantly, have these tough but necessary conversations with people you know (and even people you don’t know) — change happens from the ground up.

Denouncing racism and police brutality is not political. There are no sides to pick here. It’s about being human. Through it, you might have privileges that others don’t. How does that sit with you, and what are you going to do about it?

A black and white photo of me in front of the Texas Capitol during an anti-gun violence protest. I’m holding up a homemade sign that says “If you are neutral in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
This quote by Desmond Tutu has resonated with me for many years, and with each passing moment — no matter what I’m protesting — it becomes more relevant and applicable than ever. (Note: the original quote says ‘situations,’ not ‘times,’ but I ran out of space when I was making the poster.) Photo by Taylor McAdory.

No matter how you do it, just get involved. I know I need to do better. Don’t make your discomfort turn you silent and complicit. There is no more room or time for sitting out. Get loud and get mad. But most of all, be there for each other.

Featured image by Brittany Anderson.

Written by: ktsw899

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