Allyship – digging deeper

I’ll assume if you are still reading you deeply desire to be an ally to our Black and Brown friends. If so, fantastic! You’re ready to begin confronting things inside of you that you may have never considered racist before.

{And about that word… the r-word… racist… If that word trips you up and makes you want to quit reading, be sure to read the first installation in this series. We have to build our “talking about racism” muscles or we won’t move forward. We have to be willing to hear the r-word and not get defensive… or, at the very least, we have to recognize that we are defensive, take note of why, and press on into the content. In order to be allies we can’t make this topic about us. It has to be about what our friends of color have experienced and are experiencing solely based on the color of their skin.}

As you learn more, you’re going to learn just how much there is to learn. You’re going to feel all sorts of mixed emotions as you unpack not only what you personally have said/done/thought that was racist (whether intentionally or accidentally). You’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that there are four hundred years of wrongs that no amount of personal grief can erase.

I think that was the hardest thing for me to get past. That no matter how hard I worked on ME and no matter how much change I saw in my own immediate family, there were still millions who had died at the hands of people who looked like me; four hundred years of painful history that Brown and Black people had faced in this country, and all because some people held a ridiculous belief that one group of people could be seen as lesser than human* and treated as such. {*Literally worth less than human, as in Three-Fifths of a human.}

I felt hopeless during much of my journey, but that wasn’t helpful. I felt ashamed for a season, until I realized that sitting in that shame was only making me feel like I was moving toward something productive. Be the Bridge walks you through these steps… I didn’t have that resource and had to learn the hard way that shame is only useful if it moves you toward growth. Sometimes white people start this journey and, once they get to that “shame” point they stay there – they actually like it in a way because it allows them to feel like they’re doing something when, in reality, they’re stuck. Please don’t get into the “shame isn’t from God” thing. This is a topic to cover in the context of your journey… something shameful happened and it’s okay to feel shame – it’s okay to feel “guilty” when you learn that people who are like you did horrific things – but those two emotions are NOT THE END GOAL. They are motivators to help you move forward.

I’ve already written more than I intended to about this topic, and to be honest, I went on a little tangent. Consider it a preview of some things that, should you commit to this journey, you will have to work through. Those ideas tie into allyship very distinctly:

If you feel shame or guilt, hopelessness or a sense of overwhelm, remind yourself that our friends of color don’t need to know the depths of your emotion. It is not their job to comfort you or to let you know you are a good person. It should not be on them to comfort you as you work through these things. Find a community of people who are eager to work on themselves and walk this journey together. I heard a good tip on how to find this community… look who’s liking and sharing things that are in line with this concept on social media and send a PM/DM to a few… start a small group of trusted friends who want to grow. Right now, more white people are doing the hard work than I’ve seen thus far in my journey and I’m encouraged!

Don’t shy away from secular resources. If you do, you’ll miss some really rich conversation. As a believer I think change should start inside the church and I believe with all my heart that Christians should be known by our love. But there are some really powerful resources that are distinctly secular… If we only listen to people who are just like us, all we’ll ever hear is our own voices in our ears. I also look forward to seeing more and more Christian resources by people of color. As those roll out, I’ll be reading and sharing. For now the field is very narrow…

Today’s resource is Amélie Lamont’s GUIDE TO ALLYSHIP. Just this morning I was listening to an audio book and Amélie’s guide was mentioned. Included are tips on how to be a true ally. I wish I had known this when I was starting out in my journey… I could have given my friends of color a break and not expected so much from them as I worked on my own stuff.

* Amélie Lamont’s GUIDE TO ALLYSHIP
* Be the Bridge

Previous posts in this series:
Intro: #OnceYouSeeRacism
1. Build your “talking about racism” muscles. – {general racism}
2. The Dangers of the Colorblind Mentality – (color blind mentality}
3. Be Color Brave, Not Color Blind {color blind mentality}
4. See and Honor Color {color blind mentality; “the talk”}
5. What is an Ally? {allyship}
6. You are here… {allyship}

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
This entry was posted in #OnceYouSeeRacism, Racism/Race Issues. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Allyship – digging deeper

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