Challenging racism requires an understanding of how racism exists in your life. For people of color, this is an undeniable reality. For white people, racism has been easy to ignore because of the privilege it affords them.To truly be anti-racist, one must understand the role of whiteness in racism. These resource will provide information on white privilege and white fragility. It can be uncomfortable to examine your place within a racist system, but this self-examination is a critical step in becoming an anti-racist ally.
What is white privilege? Why do I need to recognize it?
"In the U.S., white privilege is the lived experience of greater social/political access, representation, and entitlement, and material and economic security that people considered to be white have as a result of white supremacy. It's important to note that while many white people are oppressed on the basis of class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, culture, ethnicity, etc., it is still true that ALL white people benefit from white privilege in various ways." (Source: Simmons University)
That statement may have caused an initial reaction of defensiveness and denial - it is difficult to acknowledge a system that was intended to remain invisible, to function as a unconscious default. As social justice educator Brené Brown states in the video below, "our collective story in the United States is a story of white supremacy - that is the story, that is our story. And we have not owned it, so now it owns us." It is only by understanding our story that we have the opportunity to change it.
Source: We Need to Keep Talking about Charlottesville by Brené Brown, Facebook Live, 8/15/17
"White fragility," a phrase penned by Robin DiAngelo in her 2011 article of the same name, refers to the "state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves" resulting in maintenance of the racial status quo. White Fragility functions as part of white privilege, creating a buffer against the difficult work of recognizing and confronting racial injustice.
Source: Why "I'm not racist" is only half the story by Robin DiAngelo, Big Think, via Vimeo
"Ally" is a verb.
Being an ally requires action. It also requires a continual willingness to listen and learn.
As Mia McKenzie describes in her "No More Allies" post, linked below, phrases other than "ally" present a more complete picture of what needs to be done. She writes, "' Currently operating in solidarity with' is undeniably an action. It describes what a person is doing in the moment. It does not give credit for past acts of solidarity without regard for current behavior. It does not assume future acts of solidarity. It speaks only to the actions of the present. Some other options:
These are all better ways of talking--and thinking about--allyship because they are active, and because they require examples. This is key. Why? Because, as I and countless others have said many, many times, allyship is an every day practice. The work of an ally is never ceasing. As long as the isms are function--and they are functioning at full capacity every hour of every day--then the action of allyship must function just as perpetually, just as fully, just as tirelessly."
The wording that you choose is up to you. It is the action that is most important.
Source: 5 Tips for Being an Ally by chescaliegh (Francesca Ramsey), YouTube