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10 Steps to Becoming a True Ally

As our team has begun its journey of self-education on the topics of race, racism, and social justice, we'd like to share the words, works, and wisdom of black thinkers and influencers across our communities.

This article is a reflection of a social media post created by Mireille Cassandra Harper (@mireillecharper), who is a writer, sensitivity reader, and publicist. She has devoted her social media platforms to education and awareness throughout the police brutality protests, and wrote a ten-step sensitivity guide for those who want to support the black community moving forward.

Please read this carefully, and take the time to define what this looks like in your own life.

10 Steps to "Non-Optical" Allyship

1. Understand What "Optical Allyship" Is

Optical allyship is "allyship that only serves at the surface level, to platform the 'ally.' It makes a statement, but doesn't go beneath the surface, and is not aimed at breaking away from the systems of power that oppress." (Latham Thomas) And this, quite frankly, is not enough. "True allyship is about building trust, being consistent, standing up, speaking up, recognizing the struggle, and carrying some of the weight."

2. Check In On Your Black Friends, Family, Partners, Loved Ones, and Colleagues

This is an emotional and traumatic time for the community, and you checking in means more than you can imagine. Ask how you can provide support.

3. Be Prepared to Do the Work

Understand that coming to terms with your own privilege will not be a pretty or fun experience. It is necessary to feel feelings of guilt, shame, and anger throughout the process.

4. Read Up On Antiracist Works

It is not enough to dislike racism. You need to work towards antiracism. The following will be essential for your learning: Me and White Supremacy (Layla Saad), and How to Be An Antiracist (Ibram X. Kendi)

5. Avoid Sharing Traumatic Content

Whatever your intentions, it is vital to understand that sharing videos of black people being abused and hurt can be both traumatic and triggering for many black people. Avoid sharing this content, as it increases the dehumanization of black people.

6. Donate Funds to Support Initiatives

Consider supporting platforms and initiatives which support black people, such as the Minnesota Freedom Fund. Support black-owned funding platforms like Kwanda, and sign petitions. Put your MONEY and PEN where your mouth is.

7. Do Not Center This Narrative Around Yourself

Whilst it is nice that you can relate and empathize, now is not the time to insert your personal experiences into a narrative that isn't about you. This is actually harmful and it takes away from the severity of the situation. Leave your ego at the door.

8. Keep Supporting After the Outrage

It should not take an act of brutality or the virality of the situation for you to suddenly show your support. Keep supporting black media, black initiatives, charitable organizations, and continuing your work AFTER the attention has died down.

9. Stop Supporting Organizations that Promote Hate

If you read pieces on media platforms that promote hate or fund supremacist and hateful organizations, you are contributing to the problem. Equally, stop supporting organizations that love 'black culture', but fail to speak up on the issues affecting the black community.

10. Start Your Long-Term Strategy

How are you making a long-term impact, or affecting change? Can you mentor a young person? Can you become a trustee for an organization that supports the black community? Could you offer your time to volunteer? Make the effort to do something valuable over a long-term period.

Further Reading:

No White Saviours (@nowhitesaviours)

Layla Saad (@laylafsaad)

Rachel Cargle (@rachel.cargle)

Check Your Privilege (@ckyourprivilege)

Rachel Ricketts (@iamrachelricketts)

The Great Unlearn (@thegreatunlearn)

Reni Eddo-Lodge (@renieddolodge)

Ibram X. Kendi (@ibramxk)


This blogpost is an adaptation of a post created by Mireille C. Harper. To learn more, follow @mireillecharper.

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