15 Ways to Spot an Ally with your Confident Black Kids
Here are some ways to recognize an ally:
1. They know racism can be everywhere, every day.
An ally recognizes even the microaggressions Black people deal with and speak up against them when they see them happening. They don’t belittle Black people for being offended at racist behavior, no matter how minor it might seem to some. Allies understand that microaggressions can be just as harmful as overt racism.
2. They notice how racism is denied, minimized, and justified. Allies recognize when others try to minimize racist incidents or blame the victim of a racist encounter. They know that saying things like, “If he hadn’t resisted arrest” are counterproductive and short-sighted. Groups like White Nonsense Roundup will actively push back against racism to prevent their Black allies from becoming mentally exhausted.
3. They understand and learn from the history of whiteness and racism. An ally might not know all the history of racism in the United States (that is something many Black people are also still learning), but they are willing to listen and learn as much as they can about the role white privilege has played in inequality.
4. They understand the connections between racism, economic issues, sexism, and other forms of injustice. Allies understand that racism is a complex issue and that the impact of racism is broad-based and affects women and those with limited incomes disproportionately. They recognize the role racism plays in other kinds of injustice.
5. They take a stand against injustice. Allies speak up for—not over—people of color. If they see an injustice occurring, they will make noise, but allow a person of color to advocate for themselves. They know how to be supportive without usurping anyone’s right to stand up for themselves.
6. They don’t call names and they’re not personally abusive. Allies don’t toss around racist slang to sound cool, and they aren’t abusive to anyone of any color.
7. They support the leadership of people of color. Allies vote and campaign for the people they believe are the best candidates, regardless of color, and they are critical of any leader who is deserving of scrutiny. They are comfortable taking a subordinate role to a Black supervisor or having a Black boss at their job.
8. They have conversations about whiteness in white spaces. An ally will bring up white privilege to those who are using it to limit others. They aren’t afraid of being ostracized or criticized for taking a stand against racism wherever it occurs.
9. They don’t settle for being enlightened. It’s not enough for an ally to understand racism. They actively seek out ways to support people of color in their struggle.
10. They listen to experiences outside of their racial reality, and they believe them. Allies are willing to listen and believe people of color when they describe racist incidents. They don’t argue about whether or not an action was racist or make excuses for the perpetrator. They are open-minded.
11. They recognize the limitations of white people in working toward racial justice. An ally understands that they are there to help with individual battles, not fight the whole war themselves. They stand down for people of color and let them lead the fight while simultaneously lending support.
12. They ensure the inclusion of people of color in group settings. Allies work to diversify workplaces and other group events like committee meetings.
13. They continuously raise issues about racism in public and in private. They point out racism when they see it happening and educate their children about racism.
14. They set high expectations for people of color. Allies expect the people they support to stretch beyond what they think they are capable of achieving, and support people of color in their endeavors, no matter how big they may be. Not so long ago, the idea of a Black man in the White House was unheard of. Allies helped get Barack Obama elected, and when he won the presidential election, they helped to ensure he kept working to build a better country for everyone.
15. They take a personal interest in the lives of individuals. Allies befriend people of color and care genuinely about them. They don’t speak in terms of “us” and “them.”
-- A creator of safe spaces, and an initiator of difficult conversations, M.J. Fievre, B.S. Ed, spent much time building up her Black students, helping them feel comfortable in their skin, and affirming their identities. Her close relationships with parents and students led her to look more closely at how we can balance protecting our child’s innocence with preparing them for the realities of Black life. When―and how―do you approach racism with your children? How do you protect their physical and mental health while also preparing them for a country full of systemic racism? She began to research the issue and speak to school counselors and psychologists to find (and apply!) strategies parents and teachers can use with their children to broach uncomfortable but necessary topics.
M.J. is the author of Badass Black Girl, a daily dose of affirmations for Black Girls
“You'll come away from Badass Black Girl feeling as if you've known the author your entire life, and it's a rare feat for any writer.” ―“Mike, the Poet,” author of Dear Woman and The Boyfriend Book
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