As we continue the fight for equality and justice, it is imperative that every group pull their weight in this movement. Each person’s contribution will look different. For some it may be organizing marches, others may be teaching in schools, or creating content. Some are in government and politics, and some may be working solely on a community level. Each role is different and important. However, when it comes to white allies I find that there seems to be a lack of effort. For some reason, the group with all the power seems to be doing the least work in helping to fix the system that they created to be discriminatory. While many white people have good intentions, most tend to be bystanders who do nothing but root for the sidelines or go to the other extreme and take over the movement, silencing POCs. I believe a lot of the issues come from not knowing how to help and use privilege for good. So, I want to give 5 very simple, yet powerful ways white allies can help in the movement for social equality.
Get involved locally
I am a firm believer that change starts on the local, community level first. Before we can tackle the nation, we should start in our own communities. Find a local chapter and get involved. Even if you live in the whitest of white cities, I can guarantee you there is something in your city. For me, it was right in front of me, at my college. I join the Diversity Center on campus and through there was connected to many community organizations throughout the state and even the country. If you’re not sure where to start, look for the following in your community.
+Local colleges, many offers or host community events.
+Any local chapters of a National organization such as NAACP or YWCA.
+Meetup.com – this website lets you join various like-minded people. I run one for black young adults, there are often many that run social justice groups. It’s great to either find a group or start one.
Boost POC voices
Each and every one of you has a platform of some kind. Even if you’re the receptionist at some shitty company in the woods, that is a platform. Use your platform and privilege to boost our voices. The biggest problem we have is that POCs are not being heard. We try to speak and we are ignored or shut out. You, as a white person, have an immense privilege in that people listen to you. You can use that privilege to make sure that our voices are being heard too. Again, this will look different for each person, depending on what your platform is. Maybe you have a podcast or radio show—bring on POCs to talk about different issues. Maybe you work in a corporate office—suggest you bring someone in to do a keynote or diversity training. Or maybe it’s something as simple as a share or retweet of POC content. It all makes a difference. The point is that you’re using your platform to boost the voices of those who are silenced.
Countable is an app/website that was created to help make politics easier to understand. It became known to me during the election of the Circus Peanut. Everything is happening so quickly and is out of control it’s hard to keep up or even know what these random bills and complicated words mean. So instead, many people just don’t do anything. Countable fixes that issue. It starts with getting you familiar with who your state representatives, then streamlines the processing of contacting your local lawmakers so you can easily call or email them your opinions on upcoming bills. Like the first point, you need to get involved locally. This is a very easy and great way to start doing so.
Call out your friends
One of the most exhausting things we POCs have to do is call out and explain EVERYTHING to white people. What makes it even more frustrating, is half the time it falls on deaf ears or they pretend they don’t get it.
One very easy and helpful thing you can do is to call out your fellow white people. Take the burden of having to do all the work, off POCs. Additionally, white people tend to receive criticism in regards to racism from white people, far better than they do when it comes from us. It’s annoying, but to me, it’s a win-win because I have no desire or patience to explain racism 101 to white people in 2017.
Ask what you can do
My final tip is, just ask. If you’re not sure what you should be doing in a situation, ask. If you read an article that informed you about something, ask the author what you can do to help. All of us can do this. You hear about things like Flint having no water, or DAPL. Ask the people who are there. What do they need and what you can do to help. It could be just donating money, or maybe they need care packages. Who knows, but asking will answer that question. It also helps with not overstepping your ally boundaries. Rather than taking over a movement or cause, ask the leaders how you can help support them.
In no way is this list exhaustive. It is meant to be a starter kit. These are steps that are very simple and require minimal effort on your part. Use them and build from them. Are you already practicing some of these steps? Have you found another way to contribute? Let me and others know in the comments!
Since you’re here…
Consider making a contribution. I work very hard to deliver free content for everyone. I don’t like to create paywalls or subscriptions as I want my work to be accessible to all those who need it. That being said, creating content costs a lot of time and money. Obviously, you are under no obligation to give, I know many are out here struggling just like me, but if you can make a contribution to help support my work, know it is very much appreciated.
-Love, peace, & chicken grease