I have looked long and hard in the mirror and I have asked myself some tough questions. My qualification for writing about Allyship amounts to these 30 days. Pitiful. Barely a footstep on route to completing a marathon.
“You cannot dismantle what you cannot see. You cannot challenge what you do not understand” Layla F Saad (Author of Me & White Supremacy; Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor)
George Floyd was killed, unlawfully, on Mon 25th May 2020. I was not actively engaging in news or social media at that time and the snippets I heard in passing that clung to my unconscious mind I interpreted as “Another victim of gun crime in America”.
By the Thursday of that week, my wife booted me up the backside and told me to stop, listen and connect with what happened. For the 30+ days since, I have struggled to think of much else. I have looked long and hard in the mirror and I have asked myself some tough questions. My qualification for writing about Allyship amounts to these 30 days. Pitiful. Barely a footstep on route to completing a marathon. Despite not feeling qualified to call myself an Ally yet, I am determined to become one.
So what does Allyship mean to me? My answers relate to the Black Lives Matters movement.
- Education. Hands up, my own knowledge and understanding on Black History is woefully limited. Unless we learn, how can we begin to understand and legitimately empathise? How can we recognise our own power, privilege and implicit biases?
- Challenge. When I answered those tough questions in the mirror, I realised that I have spent my life applauding myself for ‘not being a racist’ - thinking that was enough. Yet the times that I have witnessed racism, in its many forms, and stayed silent, is uncountable. Why I am just waking up to this now is something I am unsure of. I challenge myself to disrupt the status quo. This means spotting and challenging racism and discrimination. To be allies to Black people we must be anti-racist.
- Connect. My wife recently completed a “Courageous Ally” course that focussed on anti-racism. The facilitator of the course (Nova Reid) shared her lived experience of allyship. Nova described often being the only Black woman in the room (i.e at work, in a meeting or conference), and how she had come to recognise, almost instantly, if there was an ally nearby. She said that a true ally would seek her out, make eye contact and connect with her. This will always stay with me.
- Nova Reid’s Ted Talk
- Free Anti Racism Guide
- 13TH- Netflix documentary about the 13th amendment and mass incarceration in the US
- Me & White Supremacy; Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor- Anti racism book by Layla F Saad.