Now is not the time to become complacent about the systemic racism that rots our country. It’s great that 2020 is behind us, but 2021 is the year the real work begins. White people need to be taking informed action to help the marginalized community push for racial equity.
I am not an expert on being a white ally, but exemplifying that this is an on-going conversation is the first step to influencing other white people to examine their intentions and re-align their actions so that we are all maintaining the same goal: advocating for racial equality and helping to destroy systemic racism. Here are some tips and resources:
Places to Donate:
Read into what you are donating to. This is just a short list but this is a good start for those who have the means to donate but don’t know where to do so.
White Ally Vs. White Savior Complex: Know the Difference:
White Ally: A white ally acknowledges the limits of her/his/their knowledge about other people’s experiences but doesn’t use that as a reason not to think and/or act. A white ally does not remain silent but confronts racism as it comes up daily, but also seeks to deconstruct it institutionally and live in a way that challenges systemic oppression, at the risk of experiencing some of that oppression. Being a white ally entails building relationships with both people of color, and also with white people in order to challenge them in their thinking about race. White allies don’t have it all figured out, but are committed to non-complacency.
White Savior Complex: “White Savior Complex” refers explicitly to the damaging effects of white saviors who prioritize a “big emotional experience” achieved through minor acts of charity or activism over tackling larger issues like systematic oppression and corruption that plague many nations around the world – notably, issues that are often directly caused or perpetuated by the United States.
In other words, if you feel guilty or uncomfortable about being white, don’t use your Instagram to post how much you donated to the NAACP in order to feel better about yourself. That’s not the point. Donating to remove feelings of guilt is the wrong intention. Donating to assist in this struggle is genuine and doesn’t need to be posted about. Obviously this is just one example of how White Savior Complex can poison the Black Lives Matter movement.
This journal article does a great job of explaining how white fragility can cause someone with good intentions to do more harm than good when it comes to being a white ally.
This is a general rule of thumb for anything, but it’s especially important right now amid the on-going protests, riots and discussions around race. Sometimes, your experience and intellect are not enough to contribute to productive discussion and a lack of knowledge can be toxic. Here is a google doc with a list of books and articles that you can refer to if you need a place to start.
Get involved in your local community’s black-led coalitions. Do not attend a protest or demonstration unless it is organized by an organization that is led by the same people the protest is advocating for. Meetup.com is a basic place to start but if you just google “Black Lives Matter [your city name here]” some organization will pop up. Chances are, there are Zoom meetings taking place so you can join and continue to educate yourself while getting involved.
Partnership for the Public Good offers a large list of local organizations in the Western New York region. Their website is a great place to start when it comes to searching for organizations to get involved with.
This is not a conducive list and it’s also not the end all, be all. I am one (white) voice in the mix of many unheard people. These steps are meant to be starting points for white people who want to help but do not know how to help. Remember, you will make mistakes. Own it by validating experiences other than your own and doing your research on your own. No one but yourself is responsible for your world view so make sure you continue to educate yourself. Admit when you are wrong and keep going! Change is possible if we all come together.