5 Tips on How to Continue Being A White Ally When The Protesting Stops
Recently, I’ve heard many of my white friends and allies asking how do we do this? How can we help bring change? I will tell you, it’s an honest question that I appreciate, and I want to answer because as a woman of color, I am excited that my white allies with influence, privilege and power are asking such questions.
Often times, the reality for all of us is that when an issue or a topic is foremost in our minds, we want to be involved, we want to do something about it. However what happens when the news coverage or the protesting stops? When a person goes back to their daily grind, when a person goes back to their office or their school, this is where the true test comes but where one can truly make a difference.
It’s hard to think about impacting change. The system seems so overwhelming and insurmountable, yet if you think about what systems truly are, they won’t seem as overwhelming. The systems we speak of are made up of decades of small laws, policies and procedures that were implemented overtime that accumulated to what we have today. As they were enacted slowly, they will have to be dismantled slowly but rest assured they can be also dismantled brick by brick and here’s how you can do it:
- Never Forget — If you go back to your way of living and forget all about what has been happening in Black America for decades and centuries then you will loose the will and the desire to want to help and bring change. However, if you keep what is going on at the forefront of your mind then you will be more inclined to do something about it. You should therefore continue learning, reading and educating yourself to never forget what is happening around you. Stay connected and stay impacted.
- See with New Eyes — Start by retraining your eyes to see systems of discrimination and biases. Begin to ask lots of questions, for example, why is it that we have only always hired people with lots of experience already? Don’t we give on the job training? Are we therefore limiting who can be hired and only giving opportunities to those who were given opportunities to gain experience? It’s not easy and it will take some practice but start seeing systems with new eyes and asking lots of questions about policies and procedures, how they came into being and why they currently exist.
- Use Your Sphere of Influence to Bring Immediate Change — Don’t become incapacitated by the needs or the size of the systems that exist. Instead ask yourself what’s your sphere of influence? Who I do influence? What do I impact? What can I change immediately? Some examples include: Do you teach? Do you influence who your company buys from? Do you have a say in who is hired? Do you build networks for your organization? Ultimately, whatever it is you do, whoever it is you influence, use that space and place to bring change. Use it to educate and provide opportunities for people of color who would not otherwise be afforded those opportunities.
- Strategize on How to Bring Change — After you’ve re-examined the systems and the way things are done that you have always known, identify what needs changing. For many of these changes, it will take strategizing, gaining buy in from others and ultimately bringing a group of like-minded people together to bring that change. Will it be easy? No. Will you get push back? Possibly. Will it be lonely? Sometimes. Whether it’s a change in company policy or a way things are done at school or at church that’s not racially equitable or that targets minorities disproportionately, think about the good this change can bring to those who the current way disenfranchises and go for it.
- Keep at it — We live in a society that wants everything instantly. From the use of microwaves to fast food to streaming services, we want what we want and we want it now. Unfortunately, this will not happen in undoing systematic racism. There have been centuries of policies and laws, that are interwoven and layered intricately to benefit one group of people and exclude another. Therefore dismantling will take decades if not centuries so keep at it. Chip away little by little. Find ways to keep up the enthusiasm and passion you have now. Find like minded people and organizations so that you can keep at it because this is for the long term.
Ultimately, in your everyday life is where you can impact the most change as an ally, dismantling unjust systems and bringing equity to a much needed world. In essence, institutionalized systems won’t come crashing down all at once as many of us wish but with your help they can be dismantled bit by bit until they no longer exist. So my white ally go forth and act…