Going Beyond the Hashtag: How to Begin Making Strides Towards Being an Ally

By Rachael Gerron
Web Content Contributor

As we all know by now, the black community needs support. It shouldn’t have taken another victim of police brutality, but here we are again. It appears that this time led to an overwhelming sense of change. People are changing.

Nearly 30 million Instagram users joined in on Blackout Tuesday in order to amplify the Black Lives Matter Movement. Participants posted a black square with the hashtag “BlackoutTuesday” and only shared posts from black influencers and creators to their stories. Scrolling through my Instagram feed that day was a visual reminder of the power we hold. We blacked out an entire social media platform for a day. And while this wasn’t an extraordinary act, it was powerful to see millions of people united.

However, this was just one day, and afterward, many moved on to posting as usual. But this is a matter that will require more activism than a black square and a hashtag. This is a fight that may last our entire lifetime, as it has for the generations before us. Real change doesn’t come overnight from an Instagram post.

As a white person, I can’t tell you how to be a perfect ally to the black community. However, I can give you the first steps to being a better one.

Step One: Learn and Unlearn 

It is no longer acceptable to be ignorant regarding the issues affecting black people because it may make us uncomfortable or because it doesn’t affect us. However, it’s okay to not know everything at the beginning.

In many cases, schools have whitewashed history and have supported the “colorblind” mentality. It is now our responsibility to educate ourselves. Resources are abundantly available in all kinds of formats. Here (podcasts, books and videos) are some resources that can help you understand another side of history and the issues going on today.

Step Two: Actively Listen & Share

This is just another aspect of learning. We have to listen to the people that racism affects. The easiest way to do this is to follow black influencers and activists right now so that your feed and timeline are filled with their voices, stories and opinions. And when you see their posts- share them! Use your platform to amplify THEIR voices. Here is a list of accounts to follow.

Step Three: Change

You are learning so much new information that it may be changing the way you see the world. Change is uncomfortable, but it is a necessary step. Use your new perspective to speak up and help others change. Change takes time, effort and actively going out of your way to do what is right.

Change requires going beyond the hashtag.

Feature image by Rachael Gerron.

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