Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Root: 12 Ways to Be a White Ally to Black People

People across the country are shocked by the lack of justice in Ferguson, Missouri. Since Michael Brown is deceased, he cannot share what happened to him that unfortunate day when he was gunned down executive-style by a white law enforcement officer, Darren Wilson. "No Justice, No Peace" are the chants in the streets. If you want to get involved, Janee Woods from The published an excellent article on 12 ways whites (and people of color too!) can become an ally for social justice. The most important thing to remember is that even the oppressed need allies to continue the movement for racial justice.

1. Learn about the racialized history of Ferguson and how it reflects the racialized history of America. Brown’s killing is not an anomaly or a statistical outlier. It is the direct product of deadly tensions born from decades of housing discrimination, white flight, intergenerational poverty and racial profiling.

2. Reject the “He was a good kid” or “He was a criminal” narrative and lift up the “Black lives matter” narrative.

3. Use words that speak the truth about the disempowerment, oppression, disinvestment and racism that are rampant in our communities.

4. Understand the modern forms of race oppression and slavery and how they are intertwined with policing, the courts and the prison-industrial complex. Black people aren’t enslaved on the plantation anymore. Now African Americans are locked up in for-profit prisons at disproportionate rates and for longer sentences for the same crimes committed by white people. And when we’re released we’re second-class citizens, stripped of voting rights in some states and denied access to housing, employment and education. Mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow.

5. Examine the interplay between poverty and racial equity. The twin pillar of racism is economic injustice, but don’t use class issues to trump race issues and avoid the racism conversation.

6. Diversify your media. Be intentional about looking for and paying close attention to diverse voices of color on television, on radio, online and in print to help shape your awareness, understanding and thinking about political, economic and social issues.

7. Adhere to the philosophy of nonviolence as you resist racism and oppression.

8. Find support from fellow white allies. Challenge and encourage one another to dig deeper, even when it hurts and especially when you feel confused, angry and hopeless, so that you can be more authentic in your shared journey with people of color to protect principles of anti-racism and equity.

9. If you are a person of faith, look to your Scriptures or other holy texts for guidance.

10. Don’t be afraid to be unpopular. If you start calling out all the racism you witness (and it will be a lot, once you know what you’re seeing), some people might not want to hang out with you as much. But think about it like this: Staying silent when you witness oppression is the same as supporting oppression.

11. Be proactive in your own community. As a white ally, you are not limited to reacting only when black people are subjected to violence very visibly and publicly. Moments of crisis do not need to be the catalyst. Taking action against systemic racism is always appropriate because systemic racism permeates this country. Some ideas for action: Organize a community conversation about the state of police-community relations in your neighborhood; support leaders of color by donating

12. Don’t give up. We’re 400 years into this racist system, and it’s going to take decades—centuries, probably—to dismantle.

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