Disclaimer: This post contains actions you can take if you truly want to be an ally. Some might consider it somewhat harsh in tone. If you find doing these things too much for you in your present circumstances, so be it. Some of these actions are bound to make you extremely uncomfortable (and maybe unpopular) in your circles. But silence is no longer an option.
When did the act of showing empathy become a political statement? When did people forget how to say something as simple as, “Yes, that was wrong”? Moreover, when did it become so easy for people to see a Black man being killed on video yet say nothing to their Black friends and colleagues who are hurting?
If your first acknowledgement of George Floyd’s murder was to post about how awful and lawless the rioting and looting, you’re not an ally. If the looting of a Target upset you more than watching a man die with a policeman’s knee on his neck, you’re not an ally. If you can’t muster the humanity to acknowledge the callous murder of a human being by someone who’s been tasked to ‘protect and serve’ the community, you’re not an ally. (In fact, I’m not sure that would even qualify as a friend.)
I’d like to believe that it’s not too much to ask of those around me to ‘show some humanity’. After all, these murdered individuals were just people going about their daily lives, unaware that a cop or wannabe cop was going to take their life because of the color of their skin. As my ally or even as my friend, I need you to not dance, distract, or muddy the waters around the issue of why they died.
Although I hope there won’t be another ‘George Floyd’. History, however, has taught me that the police will continue to find a way. So when this happens again – and it will – I need you to do these things, especially the last one:
- Say something about the incident.
- Acknowledge the pain.
- Acknowledge the injustice.
- Acknowledge the loss of life.
- Please acknowledge all of these things without qualifiers or caveats
- RAISE YOUR VOICE! SPEAK OUT ABOUT THESE RACIAL KILLINGS TO THE OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE WHO DON’T HAVE TO LIVE WITH IT EVERYDAY! This includes your circle of family and friends who are insulated from what I and others have to deal with as Black men and women. If you hear someone passing on a false narrative, stop them, engage them, do whatever you can. I’m not asking you to be confrontational, but PLEASE DON’T BE SILENT!
I realize that doing these things will be uncomfortable for most. All that I can say to that is, “Welcome to my world!”
Like I’ve said on previous occasions, I won’t immediately equate the silence from my friends in the aftermath of these deaths as a lack of humanity or, even worse, complicity. Many don’t have the slightest idea of what they can say that won’t make a situation worse. To that end, I hope the above list of actions provides a useful blueprint. Keep it as a reference. You are going to need it.