Hey there, are you a white person wondering what to do as an ally for Black people right now? A lot of my white friends have been asking, you’re not alone. I’ve received several questions from friends wanting to do something so I thought I’d compile these all on one place.
This is the work that needs to happen y’all. Please take action.
First off: don’t get analysis paralysis. It’s overwhelming, I know. It’s a big problem: correcting systemic racism. But the thing is, we all have a role to play, and nothing changes until we create change. Start by taking one action. Then take another, then another.
Please remember that silence is complicity.
“The opposite of racist isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘anti-racist.’ …One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an anti-racist. There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist.’”― Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist
When you are silent and do nothing, you are continuing to benefit from systemic racism by accepting the unfair privilege you have received in your life, and throughout several generations. So — it’s up to us to do the work. Let’s do it.
You have to find your own tools for creating change. Here are some things I’m doing, along with a few more suggestions.
No matter what, please do something. Start somewhere.
Twenty things you can do as an ally right now
- Amplify Black voices and experiences. Black stories aren’t heard enough, featured enough, listened to enough, respected enough. Use your power to ensure Black expertise is shared and appreciated. And listen and learn from them.
- Tell the world that Black Lives Matter to you, that you stand against racism, and that you are working to change it. Model this for other white people. And fulfill that promise by doing the hard work of change.
- Create change in your industry. Lead by example. Convene leaders and collectively commit to creating change, then hold each other accountable. Build industry best practices around inclusion. Partner with organizations working on systemic change.
- Create systemic and culture change in your company and on your team. Focus on people, processes and power. For company-wide work, hire skilled and experienced people, then follow their guidance, give them authority, fund the work well, & hold all leaders accountable for change.
- Ask your company to provide more support for Black employees: time off, safe spaces to connect with other Black people, therapy, funding for employee resource groups, and work on inclusion and equity (please ask your Black colleagues what they need!).
- Check in on Black friends and colleagues, let them know you care about them, ask them how they are doing. (Don’t expect them to respond, they may have a lot going on right now.)
Note: DO NOT MAKE THIS THE ONLY THING YOU DO ON THIS LIST. You have to do the hard, change-making work so that this stops happening. Got it?
- If you protest, listen to Black people and follow their lead. Keep Black people safe. That means wearing a mask, putting your body between Black people and police if needed, helping anyone who gets hurt. And do not instigate or incite violence.
- Call your local police department and ask what they are doing to train officers and prevent killing of unarmed Black people. Demand that they address this. Make sure they mandate body cams, but they also need training, policies & leadership to address this.
- Call your legislators and ask them what they’re doing around criminal justice reform, economic disparity, and discriminatory practices inside companies and industries. This is important all the time and especially now as Black people are disproportionately affected by layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Support Black-owned businesses. Buy from them and invest in them.
There is severe inequity in the venture capital and banking systems, where Black founders do not receive the funding they should. Support them with your dollars.
- When you see something, do something. Whether it’s on a train, a sidewalk, on social media, tv, or in a meeting — it’s our job as allies to step up when we see racism, bullying, harassment, biases and microaggressions. (For biases and microaggressions, consider talking with someone privately if it’s not malicious, rather than publicly shaming. For the rest, it’s illegal — so intervene, record and report.)
- Financially support organizations working to create systemic change. I’ve shared a lot of these on my Twitter feed — please feel free to share resources in the comments (and on your social feeds too!)
- Volunteer for organizations working to create systemic change. If you don’t have money and you do have time, there are often ways you can help.
- Raise children who are actively working against racism — and for justice, inclusion and equity. Talk with them about what’s happening and why it’s wrong. Enroll them in doing the work with you to create change. Model this for your children, so they grow up in a better world.
- Buy books and toys that represent diverse experiences. Lots of amazing dolls, books, games and toys out there to give your kids more diverse representation in their play. And of course, diverse playmates and classmates are very important as a child grows up, builds empathy and understanding, and creates their worldview.
- Work on your self. We all grow up with biases and often racism too. Learn to recognize when these come up and correct them in yourself. This is the hard and important work of change. You got this. 👊🏼
- Learn from Black people: read articles and books, watch videos and movies, listen to podcasts, attend events, follow Black people on social media. And (re)learn history from the point of view of Black authors. (History books are usually written by white men.)
- Hire and promote Black people. Rather than blame “the pipeline,” work harder to find skilled, talented Black people. They are out here, you may just need a different way to reach them and convince them to join you.
- Do your jury duty. Black people need allies in the courtroom, as they are disproportionately incarcerated (6x more likely than white people).
- VOTE. Vote for Black candidates. Vote for candidates with track records of correcting systemic inequities and injustice, and who work to build wealth, health and sustainability for everyone. Help fight voter suppression, which happens most in predominantly Black & Latinx neighborhoods.
Please note that all this is from my own white perspective. I’ve been doing this work for a while, but I am still white and not an authority on lived Black experiences. So make sure you ask Black people what they need before creating a new program or project, never assume what they need. Make sure you’re never a “white savior,” that all the work you do is in service, that your work is amplifying/elevating/promoting Black people, and is correcting centuries of historical oppression and privilege.
Black friends and colleagues, I love you, I’m thinking about you, and I commit to doing the work to create change. If you have suggestions for better ways allies can help I’d love to know them (not an ask just an invitation). Love you, you matter very much.
20 Actions White people & non-Black POCs can take to show up for Black People right now
“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time. ” – James Baldwin
Please add more resources in the comments — would love to know what else you’re finding helpful!