If You’re Truly My Ally, This Is What You Can Do, Part 2: Show Some Humanity

L to R: Samuel Dubose, John Crawford III, Christian Taylor, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Ezell Ford

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.

5 Comments

  1. Lena

    Unfortunately, the people that this is directed to are so caught up in their own privilege that they will only deflect. I hope not but…
    I am proud of your dedication to expanding their minds. I do know that it will take all of us organizing, but I’m tired. I need white people to join white ally groups to learn this. Again, I’m tired. My focus has to go to folks that are doing the work in our communities to enlighten Black people on ways to organize and have their voices heard. Again, I’m proud of what you are doing here, I’m just tired.

  2. I completely understand, Lena. You want to know my primary reason for doing this? So that I can go back to work alongside many folks who have needed to hear these things for years, and know that I have given fair warning for what happens if the boundaries get crossed…even in the workplace.

  3. Cprender

    This country has been built on Black sacrifice. Again and again Blacks have been asked to sacrifice–to send their kids to majority white schools where they would be taunted, to serve in the military, and to withstand epic abuse just existing. Whites need to lose something. They need to sacrifice. They need to share the burden of restoration, reconciliation. They need to atone. We haven’t even formally acknowledged much less atoned for slavery. We need a total overhaul and I won’t stop saying. it.

  4. Agreed. TOTAL OVERHAUL, or we’ll never move the needle. For my part, there is no more status quo. After this pandemic, it will be interesting to see how others respond to my new normal. Thank you for your comment.

  5. Aaron Seymour

    Well written. I’m not surprised, you are well spoken. For me, as a white man, I have one thought to contribute. I believe there are times for me to be silent. I have never had to live in fear of speaking my mind, so the idea of not being silent comes easy for me. I’ve spent all my life feeling justified to speak my outrage over how I see people of color, the gay community and women treated. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve begun to notice that my voice is a white man’s voice no matter how aware I think I am. And time spent listening to me might be time better spent listening to someone actually suffering an oppression. I will never be silent when I see a suffering that I can speak to. But these days I look at who’s around me. Does it need to be said by “me” and “now”? I do not need to speak-up to make myself feel less guilty. I do not need to speak up in defense of myself or my race. It isn’t about me.

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