The narrative of allyship in various movements is often a self-proclaimed label of people within the privileged community. However, the reality is that self-proclamation of allyship takes away from the community you believe you are an ally to. Let’s get real — white allies or Non-Black people of color within the pro-Black movements such as Black Lives Matter are not chosen based on what an ally is to them but what an ally is to the community — someone who we believe is part of the struggle for freedom and the fight for Black safety and equality. Being an ally is a responsibility. Being and ally is accepting that you are part of the oppression, that you’re to take the burden that the Black community has taken for so long without taking away our agency. To be an ally that the Black community feels safe to be around.
Here are 3 key ways to be a better ally according to a Black activist.
1.We do not need your saving.
The narrative that Blacks need saving from the oppressive system is a misconception that ends up leading allies to feel like they need to be the mouthpiece for the Black community. This often leads to those who are not affected by the oppression to take away our platform and whose words are considered to be more true than the ones who are oppressed. They end up being called to platforms to discuss race relations when they themselves are not affected by it. Allies are suppose to be giving the platform to Black activists that would not otherwise be given it. Allies are the shadows of the movement, hidden away until it is their time for us to use them to strengthen our movement.
2. Checking others.
Checking other white people and non-Black people of color beyond the meetings and discussions of Black Lives Matter and anti-Blackness is a crucial part of being an ally. You can prove your allyship to Black folks as much as you want, but are you educating and checking your white friends that you hang out with — or your family members at the dinner table? As an ally, it is part of your responsibility that you take each available moment to teach those around you when your Black friend is not around. Dismantling white supremacy goes beyond the streets that you’re protesting in, it begins at the dinner table with your friends and family.
3. Don’t question our truth.
Often times when Blacks talk about their experiences we are met with questions or asked to come up with evidence of why we feel uncomfortable or threatened under a particular circumstance. Being an ally is accepting our truth, because all of our truth is based on experiences and stories that we know to be true. Being an ally means that you never add a “but” or “what if..” when we are sharing our stories or express why these movements are important to us. The Black community and Black activism are vast and come from all types of experiences within our community, so each story is different as well as our ways of reacting to certain circumstances. In a system that constructs our unjustifiable deaths with only negativity, our allies understand that our reactions are our way of mourning — and unless you are Black you can’t understand Black pain.
Written by Hallima Docmanov