Being An Ally

I’ve been staring at a blank computer screen for about 45 minutes.

I type a few words. I delete them. I start over again.

Over the past six days, I’ve watched so much pain, hurt, anger, and grief unfold throughout our country as we mourn the murder of George Floyd.

And throughout the week, I’ve also thought about what I can do.

I’ve researched how I can be a strong ally to people of color and other marginalized groups. I’ve thought about how I can best provide support.

And while doing this research, I also started deepening my historical knowledge. I learned more about the oppression and the systemic racism that gets overlooked in our textbooks, yet has permeated our country for centuries.

And though I have much to learn, I wanted to take some time on the podcast to share the resources I’m studying and the takeaways I’ve gleaned. 

I’ve also included links to the resources here. If you have additional articles, posts, interviews, or videos, please send me an email and I will add them to the list. paula [at] imbusybeingawesome [dot] com.

As I mentioned, I am still learning. And I worry about saying the wrong thing or speaking out of turn.

But I also know that it’s worse to stay silent. 

Because what’s happening right now in America, and what’s been happening in America from the very beginning, cannot continue. 

This can’t be our reality anymore.

And I hope you will join me in doing everything you can to help make the change.

You can listen to the episode below, or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here:

Prefer to read? Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.

Listen to the Podcast Here

This Episode Discusses

  • The importance of educating yourself about the oppression and systemic racism that permeates the United States
  • White privilege
  • What you can do to help


General Resources:

Being An Ally

White Privilege

Being An Ally (Transcript)

Hey everybody. Thanks for joining me today. I know we are outside of our normal Monday schedule, but I have something on my mind. I have something that I really want to share with you, and today felt like a good day to do it.

It is Saturday morning, May 30th. And this morning I sat down to edit my podcast for Monday, but I haven’t been able to concentrate. I haven’t been able to actually do that, because my mind is elsewhere right now. Because this whole week, I have watched so much pain and hurt and sadness and anger unfold throughout our country and especially following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Monday, May 25th.

And I am feeling so angry and so sad and such a mix of emotions about what’s going on. I’ve been constantly thinking about how I can best be an ally and support people of color and other marginalized groups not just now but consistently going forward. I’ve been doing a lot of research and reading about how to be a good ally. And I decided I would come on and share a little bit about what I’ve learned over the past week.

I feel a little nervous to share this, because I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I don’t want to misspeak or say something the wrong way, but I also think that – for me – not saying anything is even worse.

Because what’s happening right now in America, and what has been happening in America from the very beginning of our country’s formation, just can’t keep happening. This just can’t be our reality anymore.

So today, the episode is going to be a little different from the norm. I want to share with you some of the information that I’ve found. I want to share with you some of the ideas I’ve been researching. And I want to make these resources available for you as well, so if you need them, you have a place to start doing your own research, too.

And having said that, I want to stress that I am pulling from so many people’s incredible resources. And I am so grateful for all of the hard work that these individuals have done to make them available to everyone. And I am going to link the websites and articles and resources that I reference in today’s show notes. And if you are listening and you have additional resources or further input or new ideas to add, I would love for you to email them to me Paula @ imbusybeingawesome [dot] com so I can add them to the list.

Educate Yourself

So I mentioned, I started researching how I can be a better ally, and how I can best support people of color and marginalized communities. And in nearly all of the resources I read, a recurring piece of information is to make sure that you educate yourself and those in your circle as much as possible.

Like I said, there are so many incredible resources out there to help us understand the history of inequality in America, of white privilege, and of the social injustices that permeate our society. And really diving into these resources as a white, straight, cisgender woman, who grew up in a middle-class suburban city, I’ve realized how important it is for me to not only understand what’s happening right now, but also learn about the depth of the systemic racism that fills America’s history.

It Is Our Responsibility To Learn

I think it’s crucial for those of use who don’t face this marginalization to do our research. We need to take it on ourselves to learn and recognize what’s going on here and what has been going on for centuries. This is not a time to wait for someone to explain to us. We need to be active. We need to talk with people in our close circle and educate them about what we’ve learned. And we need to recognize, own, and learn from our own mistakes.

White Privilege

And I also want to stress that as a white woman, I don’t understand. I am not able to fully understand. I have never had to experience the same inequalities. I haven’t had to endure the overt racism and the constant microaggressions that are the “norm” in our society. And in fact, being a white woman right now grants me a privilege to be able to sit on this podcast and talk about these problems with far less risk and far less fear than people of color and other marginalized groups experience.

And this privilege is everywhere. I’ve never had a fear of the police; police officers always meant safety to me. I’ve never been worried about getting pulled over or searched because of my skin color. I’ve never been asked in a classroom to speak the perspective of white people or the perspective of women, yet this repeatedly happens for marginalized groups.

When I watch television shows or movies, I see myself represented everywhere. Everything continues to be whitewashed in terms of images, advertisements, the sheer fact that Band-Aids are made for a light skin tone. Bras with the description of nude really mean they match the skin tone of a white person. 

We Need To Recognize This

And I think it’s so important that for those of us who fit into the majority categories, that we recognize it. That we recognize the privileges we have. On the website, the author, Lamont, reminds us to be aware of our implicit biases. We need to recognize how we are participating in these systems, and we must do what we can to figure out how we can change those systems and support the voices of those who don’t have that same privilege.

It’s Not About Me

Because it’s not about us. And as Courtney Ariel mentions in her article, “For our white friends desiring to be allies.” We don’t need to speak for others. As she reminds us, we don’t need to hold the microphone. We have been doing that long enough. Instead, we need to listen as much as possible. We need to hear these stories. We need to hear about these experiences. And we need to recognize and acknowledge the truth behind each one.

Overt and Covert 

On Dazed Digital, and article called, “How to be an ally in light of George Floyd’s murder,” included an image that the organization The Conscious Kid shared on Instagram, and it shows all of the different ways that racism and white supremacy and white privilege come up in our society, and this image breaks down both overt and covert examples of this. And it shows how white America has a much easier time overlooking the covert – “the socially acceptable instances,” which happen every day.

So in other words, while things like hate crimes and racial slurs and racist jokes are generally recognized as unacceptable, there are so many other problems that get overlooked or people turn a blind eye. Things like not challenging racist jokes, housing discrimination, denying that racism still exists, mass incarceration, hiring discrimination, racial profiling, denying white privilege, using the statement all lives matter, cultural appropriation. These problems – and so many others – are rampant.

You Can Help

And again, there are so many different things that a person can do to support people of color and marginalized groups facing these injustices. And whether that looks like writing to your city or your government advocating for police de-escalation training and body cameras. Whether it’s teaching – your children or your students – with books and resources that feature people of color and marginalized individuals as the heroes and protagonists. Whether it is supporting black-owned businesses or donating to different organizations. Maybe it is doing the research and learning about the part of our country’s history that’s overlooked in the textbooks and sharing this information with those close to us; they’re the ones on whom we have the most influence. Maybe it’s checking in and reminding your friend or your coworker that you’re there to listen. It’s speaking up when you hear a racist joke or see an injustice happen. 

Don’t be silent.

Don’t Be Silent

And, I guess that’s what I’m trying to do today. I don’t want to be silent. I don’t want to just watch these things unfold, think about how awful it is, and then not do anything about it. I want to use my voice with the intention to help. I want to encourage everybody who wants to support and be an ally to people of color and marginalized groups to start doing some research. To learn and recognize what’s actually going on here. To understand our own privileges and biases. It’s not time to be complicit. It is time to do what we can. It’s time to say something or do something.

So educate yourself. Take it upon yourself to learn and recognize what is going on and what has been going on for centuries. And share this information with those who are close to you. Again, I will share the resources I’ve been studying in the show notes If you have something you would like to add, please email me.

Listen to people’s stories. Hear what they have to say. Hear them share their voice.

Say something and do something when you see examples of racism – overt or covert – happening every day.

Recognize and acknowledge your privilege. And remember; this is not about you. This is a time to think about how you can stand alongside others and offer your support.

As Lamont reminds us, it’s time to recognize the privileges that we have and use our voice alongside members of oppressed groups to start making change. We all have a voice, and we can all do something. 

I’ll talk with you all on the next podcast. 

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