The Dos and Don'ts For White People Who Want To Attend #BlackLivesMatter Demonstrations
For white people who call themselves allies and are eager to assist in the #BlackLivesMatter movement, there are a few things you need to know and understand before you go throwing yourself out in the middle of our rallies and protests. The most important thing you need to remember is that, you are not the target nor the victims here. You are here to support BLM, not to go down in mediocre white ally history as the most aggressive white on the ally force, so please calm your ego down and take step back.I do think it is important for white people to show up for a couple reasons. First, because police are less likely to gun down and abuse a whole bunch of white folks, as they are a group of black protestors. When it is just black people, they will beat us, shoot us, antagonise as, man woman or child, they do not care. However, when white people are at protests, for the most part, they leave you alone or at the very least, they do not inflict the physical harm that they will upon black people. Second, I think it is essential that people see that there is a zero tolerance for police brutality and it’s not just black folks “whining”. As a white ally, you should be aware of your power and privilege, if white people actually started showing up and putting their necks out for us, I think it would make a bigger statement that, no one is here for this bullshit and this will not be tolerated, period.
Right now the media is trying its best to twist all of these cases into “angry blacks are being dramatic and angry for no reason, so just brush them aside” and a lot of that is because no one else seems to want to speak up for us. So if non black people and especially you white allies actually stepped up the plate and spoke out for us too, I think it would make it harder for people to ignore and brush aside this real issue of police brutality.However, if you’re not going to be there to support and be helpful, you are just making it more difficult. So here are some dos and don’ts for white folks who want to participate in #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations.
Before attending, ask yourself why you want to go:
This is basically the “Check Yourself” portion of the movement. You need to make sure you are doing this for the right reasons. Before you go any further ask yourself why you want or need to go. Are you going because you wanna look “cool” and get brownie points for being that white ally? Or do you really believe that #BlackLivesMatter? An easy way to answer this question, is to ask yourself one more. How far are you willing to go? Are you willing to put your neck, job, reputation and possibly life, on the line, like we do every single day? Or are you just going to run away as soon as the police roll up with tanks and guns and shit gets real? If you answer is “no, I don’t want to risk it”, then you do not need to be here and frankly you can stop reading this article right now because you are of no use to us. If you are willing to deal with the risks, then proceed.
Bring your homies
If you are wanting to bring your white ally squad with you, make sure you ask them all the same questions I just had you answer answer above. Do not just bring them because you can, we would rather have less bodies of people who here for the right reasons, than more people who are just going to make shit complicated. You are responsible for the people you bring, so you will also need to be the one who keeps your friends in check.
Understand and adhere to the rules laid out by organizers:
Any halfway decent rally or protest will have a set of rules, regulations, goals, and plans in case shit goes south. You need to understand these are follow them. This is not the time for you to play hero because if shit goes south, we are the ones who are getting the bullets first, not you. So follow the rules. If you don’t agree with them, do not show up.
Take over the movement: Many passionate white allies want to throw their input in the middle of everything when it is not needed. Listen, I understand you are passionate about helping, and I appreciate that, but y’all voice is why we are in this predicament in the first place and whether you mean to or not, your white voice drowns out ours very easily. So make sure you are taking a back seat. You’re not here to lead, you are here to support black people.
Listen to the organizers and shut up.
You’re not here to give your input, because your opinion really does not matter here. We do not need to waste time arguing with you about what you think is the best course of action is. Again you are here to support us, not lead. And beings are we are the targets and have also been doing this our entire lives, we have a better idea of how these things go than you do. So please be quiet and listen to us.
Listen, again you are here to SUPPORT the BLM movement, not lead it. There have been far too many times that I have been in protests/rallies and white people get so “passionate” or in my eyes, power hungry, that they just overpower from within and do their own thing. For example, I was at a protest for Treyvon Martin, the protestors were chanting the typical “no justice, no peace. No racist police” cool, this is what we discussed and agreed to. About halfway through, when we got closer to the police station, I guess white people we’re unimpressed that there was not enough trill in their lives so they changed the chat to “fuck the police” which is not something we agreed to, and being as we lived in a predominantly white city, and the white people at this rally outnumber the black folks, it very quickly turned into a shit show. Enough that the black people, who organized the entire rally, did not feel safe staying anymore because these white “allies” clearly were not here to help, they were here to make the news. This is unacceptable and not helpful. Do not go rogue for your own 15 minutes of fame this is not a game for us, this is our lives on the line. So chill out.
Attend any follow-up/Debriefing sessions
Debriefing sessions are usually held following a protest or demonstration of any sort. Again, any halfway decently organized demonstrations should be doing this. It is a way to reflect on what went wrong, what we can do better, what tactics we can change, what went well, create goals and next action steps etc. It is also a way for people who attended the demonstration to reflect on their personal feelings and experiences. It serves a double purpose as a planning meeting and a support group. I think it is important for allies to attend this meetings afterwards, because if you are actually invested in change, you need to be in these meetings to understand what steps we are looking to take and in turn figure out how you can best be of help to assist us in reaching those goals. It is also a way for you to hear first hand from us, our experiences.