How to Be an Ally

Whether this post feels new here or long overdue, perhaps it’s both. In light of Ahmaud Arberry, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, this is something that needs to be said. I needed a few days to gather my thoughts and turn them into somewhat eloquent words. I’ll be honest — I’ve not posted about racism in our country and world before because I never know exactly what to say. I feel like I will get it wrong, I’ll come across as tone deaf or I’ll miss an important piece and it will make the whole post irrelevant.  I don’t have all the answers, I don’t know everything and I don’t want to get something so big wrong. So I’ve stayed silent.  It’s ‘best this way’ I tell myself, pushing away that voice that says to speak up. And that is white privilege. A privilege I evoke when I feel uncomfortable because whether I speak up or not, my immediate world doesn’t really change. But it’s not just about my world, it’s about your world, too. And Gemma’s world and your child’s world. It’s about our black, indigenous and people of color’s (BIPOC) world. And right now, it’s burning. 

As a white woman, I do not fully understand the struggles of a black woman or man. So I won’t pretend I have even an inch of understanding, but I do have empathy when listening to stories of struggle and oppression. And if you are a white person who is willing to learn — or unlearn — I want this post to help you. This post is not here to shame you, but to inspire change. If you feel like you’ve not done enough, start here. If you feel like you aren’t sure what to do but you want to do something, start here. This post is here to say that we, as white women (and men), can do better. Everyone deserves the same safety and freedom in their lives. It’s time to listen to black voices because black lives matter. And if that statement bothers you and you want to leave me a hateful comment, that’s fine, too. Ten years of the internet has given me a tough skin. But after you leave that comment that I’ll swiftly delete and forget about, I want you to think about why that statement bothers you. The list below can help you figure that out. 

I don’t like to rock the boat. I am not naturally confrontational and I don’t like to overstep, especially on fires I don’t know if I can contain. But when my black friends are saying they don’t want to let their children ride their bikes alone in their own front yard, or send their husband out past 9 pm alone, I can’t stay silent. I am only one person and my echo into the internet isn’t huge, but you can become two and whoever you teach these things to can become three. That is how change happens. 

We can be better. It starts with us. It starts at home and it starts today. It starts by choosing every single day to do better by our neighbors and if that takes work, then let’s do the work. Our black brothers and sisters deserve to live in a world that respects their lives. 

I would encourage you to be okay with being uncomfortable. Be okay with that little knot that might form in your throat as your read thoughts on white privilege and white fragility and as you read the challenges and struggles of our black friends. Change doesn’t come from comfort. Listen. Learn. Be anti-racist. Be an ally.

A quote from Ibram X. Kendi: 

“The opposite of racist isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘anti-racist.’ What’s the difference? One endorses either the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist, or racial equality as an anti-racist. One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an anti-racist. One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an anti-racist. There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist.’” 

Bryan and I have compiled a list of books, podcasts, resources and places to donate. Here is what we, as white people, can do right now. 

Educate Yourself + Others

Books:

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin Diangelo 

How to Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown 

The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein

Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum

Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey

(Side note: if you have a Kindle, you can get these now because some of the hard copies are out of stock. I use the Kindle app on my iPhone and iPad and I really like this option because you can highlight, save, etc.) 

Podcasts: 

Code Switch from NPR – this podcast dives into difficult conversations about how race intersects with our everyday life via sports, pop culture and politics with co-hosts Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby. It’s a great place to start if you are already a fan of NPR style podcasts. 

The Nod from Gimlet Media – this podcast ended in January of this year, but there is a whole catalog of black voices and stories to listen to. This is more story driven than news / current event driven. 

What a Day from Crooked Media – A Comedian and a reporter break down the news from the day into not-so- easy-to-digest news in under 20 minutes. I usually laugh within the first 60 seconds. 

Unlocking Us with Brene Brown – Brene Brown is white, but she is a voice in the anti-racism movement. Her two latest podcasts dive into anti-racism and it’s worth a listen. 

Small Doses by Amanda Seales — she is an actress and comedian and drops her ‘little gems’ of truth on her podcast. It’s funny, it’s smart and it’s very much worth a listen.

1619 by New York Times – a podcast about ‘the long shadow of American slavery’. I just discovered this one as I was researching this post, so this one is next on my to listen. 

This American Life: This is one of my favorite podcasts. I feel like I end up walking away thinking about things from the stories I’ve heard from here for days. I’ve linked a few podcasts below that are specifically race related. 

Episode 648: Unteachable Moment: stories about people who are supposed to learn some stuff that is really hard to learn, and then what happens instead of learning.

Episode 550: Three Miles: There’s a program that brings together kids from two schools. One school is public and in the country’s poorest congressional district. The other is private and costs $43,000/year. They are three miles apart. The hope is that kids connect, but some of the public school kids just can’t get over the divide. We hear what happens when you get to see the other side and it looks a lot better.

Donate

Black Lives Matter

George Floyd Memorial Fund

Run With Maud

Justice for Breonna

The Bail Project

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Campaign Zero

Black Visions Collective

Resource List

Find the list here.

This is a google doc by Indigo (@botanicaldyke) that contains ‘community bail funds, memorial funds, political education resources, organizations to put on your radar as well as general advice/tips for people attending protests or using social media as an organizing tool.’ It is an incredible list so this is a great place to bookmark and share. 

Vote 

Be sure to register to vote in any and all elections, starting with your local government. Research the candidates views, policies and backgrounds. Make sure you know the policies that each candidate supports and to vote for the policies, not just the politician. Policies are what have lasting effects on our world. Use your vote every single time. 

Everyday actions

  1. Try to understand terms like “white privilege” and “white fragility” and how that can impact your actions.
  2. Speak up on your social media, no need to be an “influencer” to have a voice. 
  3. Call out your friends or family when something racist is said or done. Stand up for black lives even if none are around.
  4. Diversify your feeds — follow black creators. See and respect different views. 
  5. Support black owned businesses, local and online. 
  6. Have a willingness to learn, to listen and to grow. 
  7. Check in on your black friends and let them know you are an ear to listen if they need a place to vent. Love doesn’t always have to use words.
  8. Don’t turn it off, don’t walk away from the news because it’s uncomfortable and you feel helpless. Stay active.

Thank you for reading and thank you for showing up. 

Editor's Notes:

Just a quick note: the links above are NOT affiliate links. Since I am an Amazon Influencer and basically 99% of all of my posts ARE affiliate linked I thought I should say something.  This post does not contain any affiliate links.

26 Notes

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  1. Helen says:

    Thank you for speaking your truth with such honesty! I have unfollowed so many bloggers I used to adore because they are still currently posting “how to keep your blonde for the summer” when the country is battling both a global pandemic and systemic racism. Reading and active listening are ways of being an ally to BIPOC so thank you for using your platform in this conscientious way!

    06.03.20 · Reply
    • Kendi Everyday says:

      Hi Helen! Thank YOU for showing up and reading! There is a lot to be done in our world, but I know, for me at least, my actions start with thoughts and those need to come from an educated place. ❤️

      06.04.20 · Reply
  2. Angela says:

    I have followed you for a very long time (like since 2009 or so!). I appreciate you for many reasons, including this post. Thank you.

    06.03.20 · Reply
    • Kendi Everyday says:

      Thank you Angela for reading!

      06.04.20 · Reply
  3. Briana says:

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Briana
    https://b-wear.org/

    06.03.20 · Reply
  4. Sarah says:

    Thank you for publishing this Kendi. I remember a while ago when a Black teen in your town was violently arrested for no reason at a pool party, and seeing that blow up my feed – I was hoping for an acknowledgement that it happened in your community, and I’m so happy to see an acknowledgement of this systemic racism now.

    I have a Black husband and our Black daughter, and I’m a mix myself but enjoy full white privilege based on my appearance. I see so many people living in completely white bubbles, and not speaking to their children about race and racism at all. Those children cannot grow up with true empathy, because we have to have actual real relationships with each other. I biggest hope is that white parents are now looking at their communities, at where they put their children in school (e.g. everyone who says they love diversity but not the local diverse public school for “their” child), at their friendships, etc., and working to actually show their children what a diverse and strong community looks like.

    06.03.20 · Reply
    • Kendi Everyday says:

      Hi Sarah! I think about that 2015 incident often, too. I was absolutely stunned and ashamed for our city when that happened but I didn’t know what to say online. B and I had our own conversations but — I’ll be honest — most of it was shock that local police would do anything like that. The naiveté of it all is embarrassing now but it was the first time that I was forced to look at something so ugly and to see the truth in it. I don’t know if I can go back and explain my thought process from then or even if it’s necessary, so I won’t. Sometimes the best apologies don’t need explanations so I’m sorry that I didn’t speak up then and I’m sorry I haven’t spoken up sooner. I can see how silence comes off (apathy) and that’s not how I feel. But actions speak louder than words so thank you for even sticking around here for as long as you have. Thank you for giving me a change to do better.

      The bubble is real. It’s easy and comfortable and warm. And I can’t make a promise for all the white people in the world but I can say that my child will know diversity, will celebrate different cultures and will know the importance of human lives, no matter what color their skin is. I promise you that.

      Thank you again for your thoughts, your patience and for being here. You are important.

      Kendi

      06.04.20 · Reply
  5. Rosie Wilson says:

    Of all the things I have read in the past – seems like forever – this is the best.

    You have explained white privilege beautifully and simply.

    Thank you.

    06.04.20 · Reply
    • Kendi Everyday says:

      I’m pretty sure I have been around forever at this point 😂 Thank you for reading.

      06.04.20 · Reply
  6. Leilani says:

    I’ve followed your blog for a while, but this post in particular really means a lot to me. I feel seen and heard by your message, thank you for sharing!

    06.04.20 · Reply
    • Kendi Everyday says:

      I hope it does! You ARE seen. Thank you for reading. ❤️

      06.04.20 · Reply
  7. you speak very openly and truthfully. thank yo for sharing, it is interesting and usefull

    06.04.20 · Reply
  8. Raquel says:

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been a silent follower for so long and I truly appreciate your voice on this topic. We need you and more to stand with us and for us. Thank you Kendie. Much love ❤️

    06.04.20 · Reply
    • Kendi Everyday says:

      Thank you for reading, Raquel! It’s a small start for sure but hopefully it can help. You are important to me and I hope that shows. ❤️

      06.04.20 · Reply
  9. mj says:

    Thank you so much for posting this Kendi. It was so well said and put together. Thank you for being an inspiration and trying to make this world a better place. I loved how you handled the haters. 🙂 God Bless you.

    06.04.20 · Reply
  10. JEM says:

    To me, the most powerful posts from my favorite bloggers are when I can tell they are pushed outside their comfort zone. Years ago, your post on your struggles with mental health opened up a dialogue with myself on those same struggles. Thank you for continuing to use your voice in this way.

    06.04.20 · Reply
  11. Kate says:

    Hi Kendi! I’ve loved your blog (silently, usually) for a long, long time but I’d mostly stopped reading it about a year ago when I started to become more aware of just how negative the impacts of fashion are on the world and people of color. I noticed our values were different and so I read other things. (But then, the pandemic happened and I had time to read allll the things, egads.) I would be interested in what you think of Aja Barber’s work and how the world of fast fashion negatively impacts and exploits people of color. I hope you don’t stop talking about these issues because you’re a fantastic writer and while I haven’t always appreciated your silence on issues that feel important to me I have always loved the way you string words together so beautifully. Much love, Kate

    06.04.20 · Reply
    • Kendi Everyday says:

      Hi Kate! I’ve not heard of Aja Barber but I can look her up! Google is my best friend lately. 🙂 I don’t know if I know enough to speak on the topic so I don’t have any feedback today. But thank you for the encouragement and for stopping by again. Much love back at you. ❤️

      06.04.20 · Reply
  12. TNelly says:

    Call out your friends or family when something racist is said or done. THIS! Your silence serves no one. Bravo Kendi.

    06.04.20 · Reply
    • Kendi Everyday says:

      It’s hard to do, but needs to be done. Thank you for reading, Tiffany!

      06.04.20 · Reply
  13. Briel K. says:

    Thank you for posting this. <3

    06.04.20 · Reply
  14. Michelle says:

    Thank you for this post Kendi!

    Thank you for amplifying black lives, black voices.

    Thank you for recognising that it is not enough to just be a silent not racist individual that disagrees with how someone is being treated. But to loudly be anti racist whether through voice, text, actions, support, education, teaching to disagree and advocate for equal rights for all BIPOC.

    Racism is taught, let’s un-teach this with love, diversity and equality for all.

    06.04.20 · Reply
  15. Mireia says:

    It’s so important to use our platforms and voices to help and support!

    Mireia from TGL
    https://thegoldlipstick.com/

    06.05.20 · Reply
  16. Alicia McGrail says:

    I’m glad to see you speaking out. Thank you, and keep it up!

    06.06.20 · Reply
  17. Kristan says:

    Thanks for posting this! So many bloggers have just been silent during this time.

    06.07.20 · Reply
  18. Courtney says:

    Thank you for this! Longtime follower here – your humorous posts are always appreciated, but this one even more. 🙂

    06.07.20 · Reply