Thursday, February 11, 2021

More Than Literary Allyship

With the overlap of Black History Month and Valentine’s Day, this is a perfect time to take stock of how each of us are individually doing on a journey to become anti-racist. As Dr. Cornel West said, “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” 

This summer opened my eyes to some uncomfortable truths. Like many, I turned towards books like “White Fragility” to relieve BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) of the burden of educating me. Working through the journaling exercises in “White Supremacy and Me” with friends now is a humbling and uncomfortable experience. 
This "Love is an Action word" shirt is 
available at Mahogany Mommies,
a Black woman owned business

However, a half-year past the Black Lives Matter summer protests, white people should move into “doing” instead of just reading. Without action, it's just a literary form of performative allyship. Is reading a book and not changing behavior any different than the customers in this blog about the summer wave of anti-racist book sales who cancelled or never picked up their orders?
 The goal is for us to become better humans, not just go through the motions of ordering a book.

I’m asking myself the following questions and I invite white readers to do the same.

In the last six months, have you…
  • held someone accountable for racially abusive jokes or statements made in your presence? (whether you “called them out” abruptly or “called them in” with love)
  • “passed the mic” to BIPOC in work/social conversations when they were being talked over or dismissed?
  • recommended BIPOC for jobs or speaking engagements?
  • written letters of recommendation or made Linkedin recommendations for any BIPOC?
  • engaged BIPOC for professional work or intentionally bought items from a BIPOC owned business like book stores or florists? (Semicolon in Chicago is a Black woman owned bookstore if you're looking for one!)
  • taken an action to oppose a racist policy or to support reparations and racial justice policies?
  • talked or written about racial oppression in your area of influence? (whether it's a job, a blog, or your kids)

It’s hard to fight a thing like White supremacy that starts conditioning at birth and constantly rewards oppressors in both subtle and obvious ways. It’s uncomfortable. We will make clumsy mistakes when we try to oppose it. (I'm probably making a few right now) (UPDATE: I definitely teenager sent me some corrections, thank goodness, to save me from myself with love) But we must get over ourselves and do it anyway. Big problems like poverty and climate change will never be solved while inequality and oppression lie unaddressed.

I wish everyone well on their journeys as I stumble along in mine. 

My notes from the "Me and White Supremcy" book
reflections are embarrassing to look at, but
critical to my personal progress