Dear white people: Being an ally isn't always what you think
NEW YORK (AP) - In a video clip, a black man kneels in front of a number of police officers, then young white men move in as protective shields, human barriers between him and the law.
In another case, a black woman yells at two white women who spray a Starbucks store with "BLM" (Black Lives Matter) and tell them to stop that vandalism doesn't help.
In the more than two weeks of protests following the assassination of George Floyd by the police, many variations of different scenes took place across the country. They pose the problem: what does it mean for whites who want to be part of an anti-racist movement to be an ally?
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As a new generation emerges, activists and historians believe that there is important work for whites: listening to and following black voices instead of trying to lead you, and doing the deep introspection that is required to unconsciously Prejudice and the benefits of facing privilege that only comes from being white.
White people have played the necessary role in racial justice movements from the abolition to the civil rights era in the 1950s and 1960s, said Mark Warren, professor of public policy and public affairs at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.
"Unfortunately, most whites do not yet have extensive or real experience in multiracial organizations and environments that are run by blacks in their lives," he said. "Now they want to appear as allies, which is great, but they don't get into this situation with much experience in trading."
Much has been written about the multiracial crowds that have appeared on the streets of the country and the world after a video about handcuffed Floyd appeared on a street in Minneapolis under the knee of a white cop along with Ahmaud's recent death Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.
While the diverse crowds have provided good television, some activists are skeptical that the show of support among many whites will lead to long-term engagement, and they wonder if surface activism and how it affects social media, more harm than good.
Ernest Owens, a 28-year-old black journalist, questions the concept of whites as "allies".
While many have good intentions, he said that real allies - supporting black businesses, thoroughly researching personal prejudice, and finding ways how white privileges contribute to ongoing racism - must take place to be truly in solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed stand.
That, Owens said, requires more empathy and compassion, more accountability, and a more humble approach.
"I really don't think allies and self-size are useful for talking about racial change," he said.
Tanya DePass, 47, the black founder of an organization that promotes diversity in the video game industry, released a Twitter thread with tips for whites who want to help that has been retweeted more than 19,000 times. Among them: "Educate yourself before you get involved."
DePass pointed out something other African Americans noticed during the recent riots: white acquaintances suddenly appeared, supposedly to look after them, and then had conversations about how bad they feel.
That, DePass said, obliges her to deal with her emotions.
"Stop blaming it white," the Chicago resident told The Associated Press. "I've received a lot of messages:" I'm so sorry, I know you're scared, "and this is from people I haven't spoken to in a few years. And what drives this sudden reach? .. I feel like they're just a step away from saying, "I'm sorry I'm white."
She added, "Stop apologizing for being white. It does nothing but focus again on the fact that we have to convince: "No, no, no, you are a good white person."
Carla Wallace, who is white, doesn't like the term "allies". She is the co-founder of Showing Up for Racial Justice in Louisville, Kentucky, an activist organization that focuses on mobilizing whites to work to end racism and white supremacy.
She's been doing the job for a decade. Since the protests began after Floyd's death, she has heard of thousands more whites who want to get involved.
"At this moment, white silence is the biggest obstacle for those in power who are making the necessary changes," said Wallace. "I don't use the word" ally "because it means I help someone else."
It is not her help that is needed, she said.
"It's about combining my power with the power of black and brown people. It's about what is our mutual interest in working for another society? ... We have to do something we do when we have time on a Saturday to move on to something we do because our lives depend on it. "
For 37-year-old Amanda Alappat in New York, her journey to self-denial began two years ago when she flipped through Instagram and went through the 28-day Me and White Supremacy Challenge to promote a better understanding of privileges.
"I married a brown man. I have a mixed race child. I have black friends. I don't feel racist, so I thought I would be excused, ”said Alappat, who is white and married to an Indian. “I have worked 35 years of my life without getting a glimpse of my own privilege. I have benefited. I was complicit. "
Alappat is now looking for black companies to support them and plans to spend part of their income as a yoga teacher on a black cause.
"We cannot proclaim ourselves as allies," said Alappat. "It is really up to the blacks to decide:" Yes, Amanda is an ally. I see her like this. '”
The protests in almost every continent in recent weeks are evidence that systemic racism and inequality do not begin and end at the borders of the United States.
Holiday Phillips, a sociologist in London, recalls the days after Arbery's death on February 23 and how the arrest of a white father and son was announced more than two months later after a video of the attack on social media power The black man appeared.
"When I looked through my feed, I wanted to tell my white friends:" You are here now, but where are you the other 364 days a year when anti-racism is not the trend? When racism is not safely hidden behind the screen in your hand, but directly in front of your face? "She wrote on Medium, a popular blogging site.
True engagement means calling your boss if he routinely confuses your two Indian counterparts or takes over a racist relative, Phillips said. It also means trading your wallet, asking friends about their experiences with racism, and listening sincerely.
"You can't just say things," she said, "and check your activist box."
Hajela is a member of The Associated Press' Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/dhajela. Leanne Italie is a member of the AP's lifestyle team. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/litalie.
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