So. You’re not Black, but you what to help? Maybe you’re confused by what’s happening or intimidated to take the first step? This post is for you!
Though, there are just a few things we have to keep in mind before we start:
- Check-in with your Black friends to see how they are doing. Let them know they are supported by you.
- We need to be ok with being uncomfortable. This won’t be easy, but good will come when you lead with love and respect.
- Listen with an open heart. If you start to feel defensive, breathe, let it go, then lean back in. It isn’t about us, but what we can do.
- Think Locally: connect with Black organizations in your area to see how you can help. A simple Google search will do. They have the infrastructure in place to guide you in the right direction. Take your time to research the one that speaks to you, then ask how you can help with your time, money, or both.
- Use your privilege to amplify Black voices, businesses, and organizations. You know how nepotism got you that job/home/or a feature a publication for your profession or skill? We can use our privilege to empower the Black community in that way, too.
Without further ado, here are simple, actionable steps we can take to make a difference now. Ready? Let’s do this.✊🏽✊🏿✊🏾✊🏻✊🏼
1. Listen to Black Women & Men
In this video, Amanda Seales of the weekly show, Gem Droppin’ delivers a no BS lesson in, “White Savior vs. White Ally,” and it’s only 4 minutes long! If you do anything, watch this video, marinate, then activate.
Gem Droppin’: White Savior vs White Ally
Bonus: if you don’t already, please treat yourself and binge-watch Insecure on HBO, which features Seales above! (Our love for the creator, Issa Rae deserves its own blog post.): HBO Insecure
“Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou
This powerful poem by Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman,” will reverberate in your soul : Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou
Podcast: The Breakdown with Shaun King
What makes Shaun King’s podcast stand out? “He unpacks the most important stories of injustice, racism, and corruption, but also tells you who’s fighting back and how you can support and join them with practical action steps.”
Timely actionable steps? YES, PLEASE!
2. Reach Out to Black Leaders in your Community
Jeffrey C. Stewart is a Pulitzer Prize Winner & National Book Award Winner for “The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke.” Stewart is also a Professor of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
I am thankful to call this man a mentor and friend. We met last year when I interviewed Prof. Stewart on his award-winning book and his thoughts on the question: How Do We Talk About Race? The New Negro is the biography of Alain Locke, also known as the father of the Harlem Renaissance. I’ve just started this book, and it’s engaging, surprising, and essential for our education in Black history. Purchase your copy from one of these Black-owned online bookstores. Here, the author reads at the 2018 National Book Awards Finalists Reading:
Bonus: here’s a list of online resources Prof. Stewart has sent this past year:
- News: A Boot is Crushing the Neck of American Democracy
- News: The Officer Who Stood by as George Floyd Died is Asian American. We need to talk about that. (Includes the #Asians4BlackLives movement.)
- News: Beverly Hills, Buckhead, SoHo: The New Sites of Urban Unrest
- Non-Fiction: Fighting Racism Even, and Especially, Where We Don’t Realize It Exists
- Audio: The Birth of a ‘New Negro’
- Video: Arthur Jaffa film cut of “Dreams Are Colder Than Death”
Which leads to…
3. Read Black Writers
Black Boy by Richard Wright
Black Boy is a must read. Wright writes with poetic prose as he shares experiences of his hard-working and impoverished youth in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, and ending with his adult life in Chicago, where he becomes a writer. Guaranteed, you will love this book, or I will refund your money.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The award-winning author writes on immigration from Nigeria to post-9/11 America, where “she is forced to grapple with what it means to be Black for the first time.” Whoa. Let’s pause on that. Also, why don’t we read it together, then discuss it in the comments below? Who’s with me?!
Author Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates won the National Book Award for Between the World and Me. Which was, “hailed by Toni Morrison as ‘required reading,’ a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by ‘the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States.’” (The New York Observer) He’s also the current author of the Marvel comics The Black Panther and Captain America.
4. Attend Black History Tours or Museums in your Area
Use Google to locate them, but if you’re in Charleston, South Carolina, the Gullah Geechee Tours by Godfrey KHill is one you cannot miss! Godfrey speaks from the heart as he teaches lessons his ancestors have passed down for generations. It’s the story of Charleston you don’t hear; the hard-to-bear stories of the enslaved that permeate every historic home and cobblestoned street. Better yet, support this business and educate yourself at the same time by purchasing his new book, Gullah: The Blood Root to Charleston’s Slave Trade & Redemption on gullahpages.com or by emailing email@example.com.
5. Check-in with Your Friends
This is so important that I’ve mentioned it twice. Our friends don’t have all the answers, but knowing you’re here to support is what’s most important right now. Don’t have Black friends? Well, I have a wonderful one for you to meet. Pictured above is Marika King, a woman I met a few years ago who had the sickest style in a Starbucks in Wilmington, NC, that I couldn’t help but speak up. Bonding over fashion and business, we’ve been friends ever since. Marika recently published two blog posts that read like a girlfriend’s guide to perspective and antiracism. I love her writing because her personality shines through:
6. Ask Questions
I dedicate this post to Marika, Prof. Stewart, and Godfrey. They’ve given me the confidence to post what you see here and ask questions in a safe space.
Questions, like: Do I say “Black” or “African American?”
Answer: Black to some, and African American to others. If you’re not sure, just ask – this is how we learn!
For example, when you travel to different states and countries, don’t you research and ask questions to understand the culture? Do that, and show that big compassionate, inquisitive, respectful heart of yours.
Thank you for being here. You just took the first step.
Do you have any questions? If so, please leave in the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to help in any way!