How White Other people Can Be Higher Allies to the Black Neighborhood – Wit & Satisfaction

How You Can Be a Better Ally to Black People | Wit & Delight
Photo by Wengang Zhai @wgzhai on Unsplash

The last Friday of the month is typically one where our team puts together a post sharing meaningful articles, videos, and other links we’ve found on the Internet lately. Things shifted for us as this week progressed, and it didn’t feel right to stick to the original schedule after all that’s happened these past few days in Minneapolis.

This Monday, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man and resident of Minneapolis, was killed by a police officer. The officer kept a knee pinned on George’s neck even as he was pleading, “Please, I can’t breathe,” all while three other officers at the scene did nothing to intervene.

Our team has been horrified by what happened, and even as I type this up, I’m crying at my desk. It’s appalling and senseless to think of a person being killed in such a cruel way, and it makes me hurt all over.

But the thing is, our hurt and our feelings in response to this atrocity won’t do any good unless we use them for something bigger. That message (and a whole host of other lessons) is continuing to be ingrained as we have conversations about what’s happened, and as we listen to the input of Black people on the topic of racism.

Our hurt and our feelings in response to this atrocity won’t do any good unless we use them for something bigger.

I am a white person and I fully acknowledge that I have work to do to shift the ways I think about and approach race. All white people do. We need to unlearn the deep-rooted habits and actions that perpetuate injustice. We need to unlearn the patterns that continue to contribute to systematic racism.

I’ve heard white people say they feel helpless when things like this continue to happen; when Black people are murdered and the perpetrators are all too often not held accountable. But we’re not helpless. We’re far from it. We are inherently privileged because of the color of our skin, and it’s our job to put in the work to become better allies to Black people.

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Today we’re sharing a list of ways you can do just that, by educating yourself and donating and making your voice heard. This list is by no means exhaustive, and we are fully open to additional ideas or continued dialogue you’d like to leave in the comments. We’re not perfect and we don’t claim to be, and we are all ears for how we can do continue to do better.

1. Keep the conversation going.

One of the (many) steps we can take to push back against the racial oppression that is so widespread in this country is to not remain silent in the face of it. Start conversations about the injustices you’re seeing and further the discussions on social media. Talk about race with your family and friends, even (and especially) if it’s uncomfortable.

This dialogue should not end a week or a month or a year after a murder like this one happens. Keep the conversation going.

2. Educate yourself.

Let me be clear: It is not the job of Black people to educate white people about racial injustice. It is our own responsibility. Do the work of seeking out books and documentaries and articles and allow yourself to learn from them. Our team has been circulating this document, which is full of ways to educate yourself about racism—both its history and what we can do to counter it today. I purchased So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo this week and intend to read more on the topic in the future.

Below are a few resources that have been recommended to us. There are so many insightful, meaningful ways to learn more on this topic and this list is only a very minimal starting point. If there are other resources you think are important to read or watch, please share them in the comments.

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3. Sign the petition.

One of the most immediate ways you can show your support is by signing the petition by Color of Change, a nonprofit civil rights advocacy organization. The petition calls on Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey to 1) block the involved police officers from receiving their pensions and 2) ban them from ever becoming police officers again. It also calls on County Attorney Mike Freeman to immediately charge the officers with murder. You can sign the petition through this link, or you can text the message “Floyd” to the number 55156.

4. Make your voice heard.

Contact Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, and the Minneapolis Police Union to let them know you demand justice and accountability. You can find a contact toolkit, including sample messages to include when you reach out, through the ACLU of Minnesota and at this link.

5. Donate.

Financial assistance is one of the most crucial ways to support people who are fighting against injustice. One of the organizations to support right now is the Minnesota Freedom Fund, a nonprofit that pays bail for individuals who otherwise cannot afford it. As protests continue in Minneapolis, their work will continue to be especially necessary. A few other organizations that are top of mind right now include Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block.

If you’re in the Twin Cities, there are plenty of ways to help locally. This guide shares information on immediate protest needs and where to donate. We’ve also been following @nessa_bess, @apaguyo, and @lizwelle, among others, who have been sharing regularly updated information on opportunities to donate and offer assistance in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

6. Protest.

Protesting unjust measures is one of the most visible and powerful ways to show your support. It’s powerful to see millions of people starting conversations and sharing posts on social media; it’s even more powerful to see thousands of people come together physically, all in unison, pursuing one greater outcome. In the piece, Of Course There Are Protests. The State Is Failing Black People., Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor describes the necessity of the protests happening this week.

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If you do go out to protest right now, whether in Minneapolis or elsewhere, please wear a mask and do what you can to practice social distancing. You can also reference this guide for additional ways to protest safely.

7. Don’t avoid the discomfort you’re feeling.

This week has been uncomfortable. It’s supposed to be.

Recognize that the ability to quickly move past the feelings that have been brought up in response to George Floyd’s murder is an absolute privilege. The people who move past them are those who don’t harbor continual fear over the same thing happening to themselves or to their loved ones. Systematic injustices can only become invisible if they don’t affect you.

Sit with the discomfort you’re feeling instead of ignoring it. Reflect on your own privilege and how you can do better for Black people in the future. And then decide which actions you’re going to take going forward.

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