Artwork by Paige Busick
Graphite on Paper
Putting ‘#BLM’ in Your Twitter Bio Doesn’t Make You an Ally: Here’s how to be One
Written by Elana Banks
Far too often, non-black People don’t equate allyship with action. They are unaware of what the BLM Movement means, and how they can take action. When it comes to something as action-driven as Black Lives Matter, it is so extremely crucial that its participants walk the walk, and not just talk the talk. And I’m here to tell you how.
Firstly, you must know what you’re actually fighting for. It’s pointless to blindly believe in something. In the years following its origin, Black Lives matter has evolved into an organization that dedicates itself to creating a world free of anti-blackness, where every Black person has the social, economic, and political power to thrive, as quoted on their website (Black Lives Matter). This isn’t to say that the people of all other races and ethnicities do not deserve to do the same. In fact, the organization “works vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people” In a world where Black people have been and still are treated so poorly, is it not fair that we demand equitable socio-economic opportunities? Furthermore, people still consider Black Lives Matter to be some sort of ‘white hate group’, no matter how much that statement is directly refuted by the organization itself through words and actions. To put it simply, Black Lives Matter is anything but a hate group.
White people, please refrain from making this movement about you. Your perhaps genuine, but shallow belief in this organization is not for your benefit alone, nor is it a costume for you to wear in order to garner attention or approval. There is no subsection of the organization that’s dedicated to giving white people accolades for being decent human beings. If you’re going to stand with the organization, understand its multifaceted mission. This movement is, at its root, about Black people. You stand alongside us, not in front of us, and you are certainly not in any position to speak over us.
I’m still addressing my white allies when I say: remain aware of your privilege. This ties into my previous point in the sense that you cannot play the victim. Realize that you do in fact hold a platform solely because of your race. Don’t claim that the organization is exclusionary, merely because it is not structured for the benefit of white people, as most things are. Your collaboration is, of course, wanted. There are so many ways to take action without crossing any lines. For instance, let’s say you overhear your friend voice damaging beliefs and stereotypes about Black people. Call them out. Correct them. Create controversy if you must. Educate people. Don’t be passive, because passive behavior is unfortunately powerful and effective. Be a part of the discontinuation of a harmful belief system. This article, is of course, not a rigid step-by-step guide on how to be an ally. There is, in fact, no single way to be an ally, and there are of course plenty of other ways to take action in your everyday lives. But, as a member of the oppressed demographic, I behoove you to be a part of the change. Sacrificing your comfort and security to make way for change is necessary. Assist us in ushering out hate and eliminating complicitness.