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 -

How to move forward and the do’s and do not’s of each stage.

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.

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.

Here’s a few suggestions in this space thanks to Diamond Sharp. Also, check out this compilation (specific focus on COVID-19) by Shavanna Calder:

  • 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.

Manager + diversity, equity, & inclusion advocate in training + tart baking enthusiast (IG: chephstef).

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