How to Be a Stronger Ally to your Neighbors
What’s been happening in the world right now isn’t political — it’s something that lives right in the heart of every person’s humanity.
It is a matter of life and death, and there isn’t any other spin, sheen, or gloss to it.
The protests, marches, demonstrations, riots, and uprisings that touched all 50 states, 400 cities contained therein, and countries from New Zealand to Germany to Syria, have one thing in common: They want the lives of Black citizens to be treated with the same care and respect by the police that white lives are.
People of color have been fighting this fight for centuries.
Activists, friends and family, and many members of Congress have numbered themselves among the many who know the fight for racial justice didn’t end in 1968 with the passing of the Civil Rights Act.
It’s been a long, bloody, and wearying experience, never letting the banner fall.
And now that we live in a world where we’ve:
- Been trying to reform police departments since at least the 1960s
- Developed smartphone instant streaming and are wielding it
- Already been through a hell of a year…
More people than ever have wanted to get involved and show their support.
Unheard-of numbers of protestors hit the streets last summer. Corporations from Ben & Jerry’s to Bank of America have expressed their support of the movement. The oft-forgotten third amendment was even invoked to magic away the National Guard in one city.
And though there have been counts of egregious looting and violence, most of the world is watching in horror as videos of peaceful protests are met with tear gas, rubber bullets, vans hitting crowds, and other counts of documented police brutality.
Allies who want to show their support are still asking all over the internet how they can help.
How can we reach out to our fellow people and help them bear the burden they’ve been given, lift them up, offer support?
Let’s do some brainstorming…
It’s commonly known that schools don’t teach American history from the perspective of people of color. A lot gets missed, glossed over, or factually misrepresented.
You have the opportunity to learn for yourself what being a person of color in America has been like for the last 400 years — use it!
Read books. Watch movies and documentaries. Study the history of white supremacists in law enforcement. Listen to podcasts about history, legal cases, philosophy. Introduce more people of color into your media consumption.
We are sentient and thoughtful beings — the onus to explain racism does not belong to people of color. It belongs to allies.
Providing Ancillary Support
Consider getting in touch with the organizers in your city when/if there are actions and asking if you can donate water bottles, hand sanitizer, band-aids, snack bags with sandwiches and celery and chips, cardboard to make signs with, old markers you’re not using, etc.
Ask them what they need.
You can volunteer for the clean-up committee, too!
The point of these protests is not to turn cities ugly — it’s to unmask the ugliness that is an indelible reality for people of color.
Something as simple as giving extra care to the people of color in your life, who can only be exhausted at watching the world turn itself over once again over racial injustice, can go a long way.
Can you bring your friend dinner? Lend an ear for non-judgmental listening? Contribute in a way that’s meaningful to them?
Donate Money and Time
Can you afford to support locally-owned black businesses? Do it.
Can you afford to donate surplus cash to causes that are helping?
Like, for example, The National Bail Project, working to raise bail for countless low-income incarcerated citizens across the country.
Or how about the National Police Accountability Project, which helps develop and fund police reform initiatives?
Or what about for bail funds across the country, holding jailed protestors who will allow no peace until there is justice? Just search for the bail fund for your city, and you’ll find it!
What about signing petitions for police reform initiatives, or this petition created by the NAACP to protect jailed protestors, or for the charging of officers currently on administrative leave, like the ones responsible for Breonna Taylor’s death?
Our friends are hurting.
And though we hurt for them, we aren’t hurt as they are.
Share information. Have difficult conversations — don’t just not be a racist, be anti-racist. Donate where you can. Believe in the experiences of people of color when they’re told to you. Offer up space you normally occupy to allow the pains of many to supersede the inconveniences of few in the national conversation.
Above all, speak to the non-POC in your life — with grace, facts, and solemnity.
And when it comes to POC? Simply listen.
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