Learning to unfreeze and move to support Black Communities
How do those of us outside the Black community move beyond our emotions to show up in solidarity? Here’s a guide on how to get started.
There’s been no shortage of incredible resources compiled by a number of folks across every imaginable social media platform about how to show up and meaningfully support Black communities.
And yet still, I’ve seen messages and emails from non-Black people that express a mix of anguish, sorrow, sadness, and disgust at the situation, followed by: What can I do? Is it useful if I help?
My initial response was a mix of irritation and confusion. Of COURSE you can help and OF COURSE your help will be useful.
But then I remembered: I’ve been that person. We all have. We freeze when:
- We realize that it takes deaths and protests to shock us into action — and then feel guilt, shame, and defensiveness about how blithely ignorant we’ve been to the realities of being Black in America.
- We start looking for resources and don’t know where to begin because there’s just so many.
- We want to help but are terrified that our mistakes just might make things worse.
So how do you unfreeze? For me, there were clear stages I needed to move through to be able to take meaningful action -
I get that this is uncomfortable, confusing, a little overwhelming, and well — hard. You know what’s harder? Living in a constant state of fear that any action you take will be your last.
Black communities have paved the way for the rest of us on so many dimensions — from literally building this country, to innovating and reshaping our culture, to fighting for equal rights. Being anti-racist and showing up for Black communities may feel tough, but that’s the thing: it’s a feeling you can choose to address, or not. It’s a privilege to have the choice.
I’m hopeful that if you’re still reading, you’ll know what the right choice is to make.
Links from the table above -
- Non-Optical allyship: Mireille Cassandra Harper defines what it is and what to do instead. See #7, in particular.
- Performative allyship: Kristin Mae outlines what it is, how to recognize it, and how to avoid engaging in it.
- Mistakes we make: Michelle Kim’s 30+ Ways Asians Perpetuate Anti-Black Racism Everyday includes concrete examples of actions we should stop engaging in.
- Calling in: Sian Ferguson explains the difference between calling in vs calling out and how to decide what’s the right approach.
Here’s a few resources to get you started — there are many, many more excellent suggestions nested within each including critical BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) voices to listen to and amplify.
- Call to Action: from Showing Up for Racial Justice. Check out their list of Black-led racial justice organizations to consider donating to as well.
- 26 Ways to Be in the Struggle Beyond the Streets: incredibly detailed and tactical suggestion for all the things you can do if you’re not able to protest from Issuu.
- Taking Action in Solidarity with Minneapolis: Actions + resources from Indivisible.
- 20+ Allyship Actions for Asians to Show Up for the Black Community Right Now: title says it all — from Michelle Kim.
- Self-care + Mental Health Resources, by Community: great set of linked reads — including how to handle resource overload and avoid burnout as an ally from Body Politic.
Showing up for Black communities also extends to providing support in many other ways — including providing mutual aid and donating to organizations supporting Black communities.
- BYP100: Member-based organization of Black youth activists creating justice and freedom for all Black people.
- Groundswell Fund: WOC + transgender POC-led foundation that provides grants to drive improvements to economic, social, and racial justice.
- Third Wave Fund: National fund that supports and strengthens youth-led gender justice activism to advance communities of color and low-income communities in the US.