For Other White People Trying to Be Allies to People of Color
A Resource List
If it were easy to be a true ally to people who are marginalized in ways that an ally aspirant is not, everyone who called themselves “allies” would be correct… but, that is not even remotely the case. Trust me, I’m a white person trying to be an ally to people who experience systemic oppression due to having skin darker than my own…emphasis on “trying”. Sometimes, I do well enough and am called an ally by marginalized groups. Other times, probably more often than I care to think about, I just wind up being annoying, martyr-esque, or paternalistic… hell, I’ve even white-splained racism to people who aren’t white. It’s a miracle that everyone has been patient enough with my screw-ups that I haven’t been slapped or cussed out… and by miracle, I mean my white privilege makes it far less likely that anyone of color would risk their reputation and safety by confronting me in a non-civil manner. Given the amount of unearned privilege white people experience, perhaps it’s fitting that educating ourselves on our privilege should take effort. After all, it usually takes way more effort to succeed in a society where the cards are stacked against you because of how much melanin is in your skin than it does to read and listen.
At this time, I’m in the process of reading Sister Outsider and The New Jim Crow, in the midst of learning how to be less of a white savior and more of an actual ally to people of color by learning how to advocate for justice without stepping on the marginalized toes of the very people I’m trying to empower and/or performing “ally theater” (I hope). In an effort to record this process, and to help other would-be allies, I’m listing things that I have read that are relevant in my pursuit of this goal; as white people, we need to be more accountable for our complicity in white supremacy — even if we are not actively bigoted, even if we are marginalized in other aspects of our lives, we as white folks are still part of a larger system of oppression and discrimination against people of color (PoC) in the United States. Having voted for Obama means nothing if I remain silent when police murder innocent non-white people; merely having friends/lovers/coworkers who aren’t white, avoiding use of racist slurs, and not committing hate crimes does not constitute allyship… as many an activist has told me, and as I have told many cisgender straight people: “ally” is a verb, not a title you get to claim for yourself. If you have the money to invest, please purchase books about this that are actually written by people who are not white. However, in the interest of accessibility, here are a ton of free resources for you to consume (they are not written/owned/produced by me, just read and/or watched by me). While reading them won’t instantly make you an ally (and gathering them did not and does not make me an ally), I’d like to think these pieces will put us on track to being better people with more empathy for PoC.
8/15/17 Update: in case it somehow wasn’t clear by now, if you think Nazis or Alt-Right or any other white supremacists “deserve free speech, like every other American”, you’re not an ally to any minority, you’re a vacuous witless pillock. Also, read this first. Additionally, while I’m using the term PoC to try not to pigeonhole people into categories, it’s not a perfect term.
Common White Ally Mistakes:
What To Do Instead:
Read anything & everything on Medium by these writers: Son of Baldwin Anthony J. Williams The DiDi Delgado Ijeoma Oluo Talynn Kel Clay Rivers & Ezinne Ukoha . Also, follow and read Threads of Solidarity: WOC Against Racism .