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Being a Better Ally

Below are multiple suggestions on what non-Black individuals can do to show solidarity:

  • Educate yourself. We pay educators because educating others is a time-intensive job! People who are experiencing racial injustice are often looked to as the experts or educators; step up and do some independent study while focusing on work from minority groups (Kaur, 2020). 
  • Become involved in social action:
    social action
    Look for opportunities to speak and act.
    • Look for opportunities to speak and act. Speak up when you witness acts of injustice and intolerance.
    • Challenging others is a way of using your privilege for the benefit of others. You can ask questions, raise issues, and add perspectives that are not naturally coming up in discussions. You can also introduce data, invite people into conversations, and create buzz around ideas. With your privilege amplify the views of people not being heard and bring back conversations when someone is interrupted. Consider other experiences besides your own and think about how you would like to be treated during those times. You can give credit for people’s work and spread the word about their talent.  You can notice when bias is playing out around us, and name it when it happens. When someone brings up your bias, do not be defensive or  quick to challenge it. Instead, try to see from their perspective.
    • Be thoughtful about moments when you may inadvertently speak over the group you mean to support. It is not unusual to inadvertently put ourselves first instead of the people to whom we are trying to be an ally, but it is costly. When it happens, step aside or step back, create space, and learn from those whose lives are directly affected by the issue, rather than presenting yourself as the expert. Take their lead while using your privilege. However, do not use lack of knowledge to remain silent. The voices of those with privilege are heard more than those who are being affected. It is important to speak up.
  • Have difficult conversations:
    • Conversations about race can and will likely always be difficult to have, however this does not mean they should not happen. If you have an identity that carries privilege, use it to have difficult conversations. You will likely be listened to and can help others in understanding different perspectives (Connley, 2020) .
    • When conversations about race happen in the classroom, educators should take the lead. If the conversation is part of class discussion, set up guidelines so students can stay respectful throughout the discussion. Having students reflect from an opposing perspective as an exercise can help them understand a classmate’s opinion they may have not understood beforehand.
    • Don’t be afraid to initiate conversations with friends and family who may not be as knowledgeable on topics such as racial trauma and White privilege. Often people are discriminatory and are not aware. Be brave and have these tough conversations with loved ones.
  • If you yourself have offended someone and someone speaks up:
    • Don’t be defensive -- take the opportunity to consider how what you said may have come off. How would you feel if someone said something similar to you, based on racial stereotypes or assumptions?
    • Acknowledge that you hurt the person, apologize, and reflect. 
  • Learn about other cultures:
Learn about other cultures!
  • Ignorance is often the base of judgment and discrimination towards minority groups. Take the time to learn about different cultures, you will often find more commonalities than not.
    • Ask about different cultural customs and traditions. This can take place by asking friends or classmates of different ethnic backgrounds. But be respectful and receptive during these conversations and don’t judge or assume someone else’s customs are “weird” or “strange”.
    • Watching films, listening to new music, trying new foods, are just a few ways to learn about different groups, and you will likely expose yourself to something you might really like and hadn’t tried before.


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