This Black Lives Matter movement and the Amherst Uprising are both powerful responses to systematic injustices and serious offenses. Clearly, there is a need for change in this country and that change cannot be exclusively the responsibility of black people, as Thurston made clear in How to be Black. There need to be allies who are not black fighting for the cause. My question to you all is what does a good ally do? It’s a question I think a lot about in terms of men and their role in feminism. I want to think now about the role of non-black people in anti-racist projects. So, in the spirit of Baratunde Thurston, here’s my guide to being the “White Friend.”
- Listen to the perspectives of black people and their experiences
- Show up: come to discussions, protests, and events. Racial issues matter for everyone
- Read a newspaper other than the Wall Street Journal
- Learn to pronounce your black friends’ names
- Acknowledge the wages of whiteness
- Join diverse communities: your kid might be better off if there school has more than 3 black people!
- Tell other white people not to be racist
- Be an actual ally, not just someone who posts shit on Facebook
- Dominate or take over a discussion about race
- Know how many black friends you have off the top of your head
- Touch your black friends hair without their permission
- Claim that you’re not racist so you aren’t responsible for dealing with systematic racism
- Tell racist jokes (even if you think they are really funny!)
- Assume all black people are criminals
- Try to compare your experience to the experience of being black. It’s not the same thing.
- Tell your black friends they seem like they are white when their grammar is impeccable
- Join the KKK
- Use your black friends to try to seem cool or “diverse”
- Dismiss microaggressions as someone being too sensitive
- Trust a guide about being a good ally to black people that was written by a white girl. You should rely on your “Black Friend” for this kind of thing. Your black friend is used to speaking for all black people.