So you want to be an ally? It’s ok to be new to it. You just gotta be true to it.
The biggest hurdle you’ll have is empathy. It’s the thing that allows you to take a walk in someone else’s shoes and causes you to look beyond yourself. It’s the one thing that topples white fragility, which is one of the most substantial barriers to allyship. It’s that thing on the inside that rises up inside that feels like you’ve been attacked or overlooked or slighted because someone has mentioned their negative experiences as a black person. Or, you felt some kind of way when Beyoncé marched out onto the field at the Super Bowl with her salute to the Black Lives Matter movement and you felt left out somehow, or mad that she did that because it didn’t speak to you but you saw how it resonated with black women.
Like fear is to bravery, you still may feel it, but you MUST push through it and try to at least hear where your friend or colleague is coming from. You may not understand, but acknowledgement is the first step to empathy.
When you understand that equality feels like oppression when you are privileged, you can begin the hard work of taking a walk in another person’s shoes, despite what you may feel.
Just as racial injustice is as old as slavery for black people… it is a 400 year old institution that has impacted you too, only in a very different way. You’ve benefited from it, and that is hard for even the most well-meaning white person to unlearn.
Give yourself a little grace (we do everyday), ask your self this:
What can I do to take some time each day to learn a little something about the history of oppression in the US?
The good news is that Google is a resource that will help you discover things our school text books left out.
I’m happy to recommend some good reads to you if you reach out.
Can you commit to taking a walk in our shoes?
Welcome to the movement. I’m glad you came.