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How can you be a better ally and support Black people in their fight against police brutality, systemic racism, and injustice? It’s a question that many are asking in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade as protests continue over 40 cities nationwide. Here, three simple concepts to keep in mind when attempting to help the struggle.
Know Your Privilege
The Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson believes that “if you are privileged by education or privileged by wealth or privileged by color or privileged by status, you really need to listen before you can formulate a strategy that is going to have an impact on these really vexing issues.”
In this case, white people need to understand their privilege before engaging in dialogue. White privilege does not assume that white people have not worked hard to achieve their goals. White privilege acknowledges the ways in which white people do not have to consider their race in daily interactions. If you want to be a better ally, confronting your privilege is absolutely necessary before getting involved in the fight to make Black people feel seen and heard. Investigate your privilege, and find that you may have connections who could make a direct impact for Black lives. Contact friends with influence, heads of universities, and political figures. Encourage them to speak up about police brutality. Most importantly, acknowledge your privilege, and let people of color be the focus at rallies, protests and vigils.
It is the responsibility of white allies to stay informed and educated. It’s not enough for Americans to post to Instagram and Facebook showing their support. Make signs with friends and head to a protest. Understand why you are there—it’s not a photo opportunity for your next Instagram story. When protesting, witness the power of people coming together to honor a man whose life was taken too soon. If there are speakers, step back and listen. If there is a microphone, hand it to the person of color closest to you. Protests are taking place to honor the life of George Floyd and with the hopes of reversing laws and mores that have kept Black Americans on the margins for centuries.
Listen to Black People
Listening is the best way to show your support. For Black people, George Floyd’s death is yet another reminder of systemic racism in America. Support your Black friends by asking them how they are doing. Distract them with a trip to their favorite store or park. Let them talk about their own interactions with law enforcement. Listen when they talk about the deaths of unarmed Black people. You’ll find that by having a short conversation you will probably make their day.
There are so many ways to show support for Black people at this time. Continue to listen and learn from your Black peers. All we really want is to be supported.
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