One white chick's version of what allyship looks like in practice as opposed to posturing on line
In the wake of Breonna Taylor's deeply disappointing non-justice out of Kentucky, I continue to read challenging and difficult articles by Black writers- mostly women- whose pain and anger sear my soul.
Many of them also speak to the swiftly-disappearing nature of America's interest in racism, the deeply-embedded systemic nature of that racism, and the hard damned slogging work it will take to make the kinds of changes towards an equitable world.
As my buddy Dr. Rosenna Bakari said this morning, we as Americans didn't sign up for discomfort. Witness the fact that public health officials received death threats for carrying out the CDC's instructions. I could go on but I am in a good mood. We as a nation in general are beyond stupid, beyond selfish. If the Topic of the Moment doesn't elevate ME, or benefit ME, then it's too much of an inconvenience. Of course that's not all of us, but it is too many.
It takes effort
In a world where a Millennial mom will buy a motorized baby carriage to prevent her from having to expend the slightest effort actually pushing a pram around the neighborhood, well. Yeah. This:
We expect THESE people to climb aboard a centuries-old, hard slog, when they can't bear to push a fucking baby pram up a small hill with their own kid in it?
You see my meaning. This white chick (and kindly you gaslighting Justice Warriors I WILL use the word chick and I don't give a rat's ass if it offends your delicate pram-pushing sensibilities) has a few thoughts.
First, folks, let's educate ourselves. To wit: for months, NPR (among many others) has been doing an excellent job of interviewing Black scholars who have spoken about the Reconstruction and what that really meant for America's Black population.
Most of us are clueless. To that, please:
We have a country where a significant portion of America's home-grown college kids didn't know there was a Civil War, what it was about and who won, and what that meant for America.
We want these folks leading us?
You get my drift.
Expand your world
More on cluelessness: this year I dove into far more work by fellow Black Medium writers on Zora. Not only that but I have actively read, highlighted, commented upon and engaged with those readers. That's still hardly enough, but it helps. Because if their words cause you discomfort, that's like finding a lump in your breast.
A suspicious problem right in that part of us that is designed to nurture.
It's suspicious, all right. It points to our collective ignorance. The only way to get rid of that kind of ignorance is to own it, and to learn, seek, and be fucking fearless in facing our part in The Way Things Are.
Read Black writers. Suggestions abound. They are all over the Internet. While I have not read White Fragility, that might be a good investment. However, becoming more aware isn't enough. HUMANIZING the effects of racism involves hearing what smart Black writers have to say about traveling while black, hair being weaponized, being treated like a pet I(can I touch your hair/skin/whatever)?
Honey, if you would take offence at some stranger's wanting to touch, fondle and play with your kid, then what the fuck is wrong with you that you do NOT see that doing this to a person of color is an assault, an abuse of their body agency?
Dr. Bakari has pointed out, quite rightly, that while anti-racism assessments provide cognitive awareness, that doesn't necessary lead to movement. Feelings do. Emotions do.
The only real way to humanize people of color is to have a few in our world. Not those trained folks of color who have given up their humanity to be acceptable to White folks. Not that Token Friend who tolerates your racist comments because she wants to be part of your world.
I mean truth-spewing, intensely smart, out-loud and in your face people who will fearlessly love and respect you enough to call you on your shit.
Those folks will invite you to a whole new world. They will uplift you, strengthen you and challenge your White ass, just like they do me.
Stop being an Ally-Lite.
Or Ally-White, put another way. One example: the self-appointed Justice Warriors who mistake their manufactured outrage for action, their attacks on others online for allyship, and who loudly accuse others of the very racism they live every single day.
They put up the Right black squares, maybe even show up at a rally. Once the 'gram photo is loaded of their perfect selves on the march, they march on to be pissed off at word choices in articles, the appearance of incivility, and the use of the word "chick" by old White chicks like me.
Scuse me but grow the fuck up.
You want to be an ally, here is what Ally Full Strength looks like in practice in my world. I can't speak for anyone else, but in my lanes, this is what I do, have always done, and continue to do:
I read, support, link to and highlight other Black writers.
I sent their articles to those folks in Corporate America who might have an interest in their material.
I support materials designed by Black women which speak to helping us learn about our racism or lack thereof, by writing about them, doing them myself, and sharing those materials with others. You elevate by propagating good work.
Promote Black Excellence
I also link arms with extraordinary talent. While we are not guaranteed a contract, this year I positioned a powerful Black woman to the front of the line with a contact of mine at a huge corporation. They're interested. Let's be fair: SHE has the skills and knowledge they need. About 65-75% of the work we hope to be doing in the D&I space will be her work. I have a distinct skill set, and while I can do some of this work. most of it has to be her. That's as it should be.
If this threatens you, you cannot be an ally. Because this:
Valenti is a White chick who totally calls it as she sees it and she is right. She speaks to you and me as White women, and pulls back the skin on the habit White folks have to make it all about US.
You and I do not get to once again climb on the backs of POC to make yourself look good when it's those POC who need, for once, to climb up on our shoulders.
I promote talent. That means I see Excellence. I expect it. I see Black folks, and I Black Excellence everywhere. EVERYWHERE. When you and I don't have the moral courage to make a bigger pie, which means we all win when talented POC are promoted and elevated, then we perpetuate the patriarchy.
The same patriarchy that crushes all of us, like it or not. Especially if we cannot countenance the notion that a Black man or woman might be smarter, better, more capable, talented than we are. Plenty of them are.
Nothing changes unless you and I change. Change only begins if you and I find the moral courage to do things differently in our circles. Not sling racist slurs online or waste efforts barking at people when the real work begins with us and only with us.
I want to see more POC outside. On adventure travel. In the world I inhabit. I want to see more POC as guides, as industry leaders in the companies that make the gear and clothing. Why? Because when they are, clothing will fit POC. Not just White folks, mostly male. The only way that happens is when someone like me opens a few doors and gets the right talent in front of the right people at the right time. That's what being an ally looks like in my world. I want to create more allies doing precisely the same thing. That's my lane. I am swimming in it for Olympic gold.
No marches. No placards. No online screaming. Just quiet, dedicated, focused work, often behind the lines.
What are you willing to DO?