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. Use this blog as a reference tool, not as the one and only view on the topic.
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I see a lot of questions around “When” an ally should speak up. I would never be able to go over each and every possible scenario but I can give you a few rules of thumb. As with most “ally” discussions this can often be applied to other areas but in keeping with theme, this will be about anti-racism allies:
Speak up when the offended party is not around- You and your friend are hanging out. You are both white, they say something racist. Speak up. You need to speak up for two reasons. 1-To let them know what they said was wrong and 2-To let them know that YOU don’t think it is okay. Always remember, silence is acceptance.
Speak up until you are told otherwise- You (a white person) your friend (a white person) and another friend (a Black person) are all hanging out. Your white friend says something racist. Speak up. For the same reason’s as listed above. However, if the Black person says to let it go, let it go. It does NOT mean that the Black person agrees with what was said, it (more often than not) means that they feel like the argument is both futile and will single THEM out. This is not an easy place to be in, especially if you are the only person of color in the room. In many cases, you will be asked to stop just so they can not have to be the center of attention anymore. Please comply with the wishes of the PoC.
Never speak up- You (a white person) your friend (a Black person) and another friend (a Black person) are hanging out. One Black person says something about the Black race and the other friend disagrees. This turns into a discussion. Say nothing. You can however speak up if your opinion is asked for-but be warned. If you are the minority white person in the situation, know that human nature will likely cause the person you disagree with to say “This person doesn’t know.” They would not necessarily be wrong about that. Still, this is something that, in this situation I would strongly encourage you to stay out of altogether.
Know your place- This is the one that causes the most problems for allies. It’s really about knowing when to stop. Okay, you (a white person) are in a racial conversation with your friend (a Black person) this is an open conversation and the Black person has let you know that they are comfortable having this conversation. Now, you start asking questions about their experience or their view point as a Black person. This is perfectly fine if you have PREVIOUSLY been given the okay. Where this get’s tricky for some is when an opinion is given that you don’t agree with. It seems to be very difficult to remember that the experience you are asking for is that of the other person’s. The other person who has a vastly different experience than yourself. When they say something you don’t agree with, do not, I repeat DO NOT DISMISS THEIR WORDS. You disagreeing does not make you right. There is a VERY good chance that your experience and their experience are two very different things. The conversation itself (as long as you’ve been given the okay) is perfectly fine. Disagreeing is perfectly fine. However, talking over, dismissing, belittling or even arguing about who is right is a big NO-NO. This is not and never can be a situation of “I am right and you are wrong” because in this particular case, you think you are comparing green apples to red apples when in fact, you are comparing green apples to ice cream. Two very different perspectives and that is SO IMPORTANT to always remember as an ally.