Today's lesson, Racism. If you see something written here that you’ve said or done, use it as an opportunity. Take it as a wake up call and make the decision to grow, change and be conscious of your own privilege. Remember, I am not a speaker for the entirety of a people.
Personally, I believe one of the biggest mistakes a white person can make in trying to be a good racial ally is trying to “See through our eyes.”
You can’t do that. I don’t mean that you can’t as in, you do not have the mental capacity. I mean, you can’t understand the million little things that we deal with as PoC. Things that you are not even able to see yourself because they do not affect you in the same manner. It doesn’t make you a “Bad person” to not know each and every thing we go through. It is great that you want to understand. It truly is but if there was only one piece of advice I could give to each and every racial ally, it would be this: Don’t try to see through our eyes. Try instead to see your role in the system and actively work to make things better.
The worst mistake, I believe, that an ally (for any community) can make is to think, even for a second, that they understand what any one person is or has gone through as a result of being part of said community. You can not see through our eyes.
Wanting to know what we go through is not a bad thing. However, I think a lot of people falsely believe that in order to truly be an ally, this is a step you must take. If this is where your head is, try to erase this idea from it. Your ally status is not and can not be contingent on knowing my thoughts, experiences, pain or sorrow. If you get a taste, if you get to a place where you see things differently based on something I’ve told you, that is lovely. BUT…It is not a condition of service. It is simply a byproduct of being an ally. Being an ally is about knowing YOUR affect on the community. It is about checking your own privilege. It’s about not setting yourself OR us above. It is not about your inane knowledge of our history or current station in this country.
Knowing any of these things should be considered a plus but not necessary. A good ally does not need to pass a test consisting of questions that start with “How do black people feel about…”
You knowing the answers to these questions has NOTHING to do with your ally status.
Wanting to know who we are or how we feel is fine. Just know, you can never fully understand the affect racism has on our daily lives based solely on the fact that no matter how much you may want to, you can never walk in our shoes.