We have put together a (non-exhaustive) guide, on actions that can be taken by non-black people to stand in solidarity with the black community and proactively take steps to challenge racism when we see it.
WHAT DOES BEING AN ‘ALLY’ MEAN?
“Being an ally means recognising that there is mutual benefit to tackling injustices of all sorts faced by my community. It is a position of support, that requires educating of one’s self about the community and its struggles, working towards understanding how your privilege has helped you and shapes how you view the world, and using it to help others. It's consuming diverse media, films, books and art created by black artists. It means being conscious of your language and behaviour and standing up to anyone who aims to demean someone simply because they are black. Being an ally means recognising that equality is not universal and challenging those who work against this ideal.”
- Jillisa Thompson
“As far as I’m concerned, being a good ally means that first and foremost assuming that you are ignorant. Whenever you say something as an ally, work under the assumption that you may have missed some vital piece of context that you, as a white person, can’t see, and be prepared to be called out and hold your hands up if and when you do get it wrong. Never pretend you know what it is to be black, or that you understand the breadth and diversity of black experiences. Enjoy films, music and books by black artists and engage with each piece on its own terms. Don’t, however, fetishize it, treat it like a tick box exercise, or pretend it’s a revelation (even if it is to you). Be there for your black friends. Don’t ask every black person you meet if they’re ok. And if you organise speakers or commission articles, make sure to still invite black speakers 6 months from now, and not to wait for the next murder.”
- Leon Alleyne-McLaughlin
To me an ally to the black community is someone who is constantly listening to the experiences that the community is sharing, and researching the ways that black people have been (and are currently) being oppressed. With this information, they can talk to friends and family members that dismiss our words, and explaining some of the realities and systemic factors that favour them, but also limit the black community they can help loved ones become anti-racist. An ally must also be willing to learn and be open to changing their own minds, this helps to remove the biases and prejudices they may not realise they have internalised. But the most important thing I feel, is to speak up when you are witnessing an injustice, use your privilege to make our voices heard. The fight against racism and discrimination is something that cannot be won by black people alone, and it’s a long fight that will take many years and we will need our allies to maintain the current enthusiasm, as we have seen in the George Floyd, Amaud Abrey and the reopening of Breonna Taylor’s cases. Together we can affect change.
– Kwame Oduro
HOW CAN I HELP?
1. EDUCATE YOURSELF
There are a whole host of free resources available to educate yourself on this vital issue; read books, listen to podcasts, watch YouTube and TED talk videos and follow activists on Twitter. The onus is NOT on your black friends to teach you about the racism that they face.
Link to anti-racism resources –
Links to additional resources –
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge
Being Black, Jane Elliot
Why we need to call out casual racism, Luvvie Ajayi
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, Peggy McIntosh
Be intentional about looking for and paying close attention to diverse voices of colour on television, on radio, online and in print to help shape your awareness, understanding and thinking about political, economic and social issues.
2. BE AN ADVOCATE
Charity “From Privilege to Progress” does excellent work in teaching non-black people how to show up and speak up for black people. They discuss how a good advocate knows when to listen and when to talk. Listen when black people talk about their everyday experiences and don’t minimise or dismiss their feelings or lived experiences. Ask plenty of questions and earnestly seek to understand the black perspective, before trying to have your viewpoint heard. Identify and highlight problematic language or actions when you come across it, sometimes, pointing out the behaviour candidly helps someone hear what they're really saying. Challenge people if they continue to engage in racist language and behaviour.
Link to website: https://fromprivilegetoprogress.org/
A good advocate should recognise and acknowledge that black women are fighting a battle on two fronts. Black legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality” in her insightful 1989 essay, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.”. Crenshaw argues that Black women are discriminated against in ways that often do not fit neatly within the legal categories of either “racism” or “sexism”—but as a combination of both racism and sexism. Further to this, black girls must contend with the unique challenge of “Adultification” which is when adults view black girls differently from their white peers, leading to greater levels of harassment and punishment.
Another important part of advocacy is recognising privilege, Dr. Remi Joseph-Salisbury says:
‘White privilege refers to the ways in which people racialised as white experience advantages over non-white people. These privileges are not random, but are the consequence of the systemic white supremacy that underpins our society.’
In an article for the Guardian, Afua Hirsch writes:
“While some white people are enjoying their colour-blindness, people of colour are getting on with having no choice but to live in a racialised reality”
Link to full article here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/24/white-people-tv-racism-afua-hirsch
Explore ways you can use your privilege to make positive change and educate others.
3. THINK BEFORE SHARING VIOLENT VIDEOS
In an article for the Guardian, writer Leah Green says:
“Images of black people being killed in the US have become part of the furniture of our lives. We have a compartment for them in our brain now, filed under “so sad, we must do something
For a lot of black people, they leave deep personal scars: feeling sick to your stomach while you watch another person being killed, needing to take time out to recover.”
In an article for gal-dem, writer Kemi Alemoru says:
“There’s also the question of what it does for black people for non-black people to get used to seeing our bodies brutalised, as if it’s just a fact of life and to share these videos widely – especially since we know the unique trauma it leaves us with. A white person might feel slightly bad about racism enough to retweet our final moments, but not to the extent that it will mean that they will become actively, let alone passionately anti-racist”
Link to full article: https://gal-dem.com/bookmark-this-what-should-we-do-with-videos-of-police-brutality/
There are other ways to share injustices than simply retweeting a violent video; afford respect and privacy to the person who has been killed, consider the mental health of others who will see the content, be wary of desensitising yourself to these shocking and horrific acts and share the story in other ways. At the very least be careful about sharing potentially triggering images with disclaimers
4. CALL, EMAIL AND VISIT YOUR POLITICIANS (AND VOTE)
Put pressure on your elected officials and show them that there is an appetite for change.
Contact and meet your elected officials, attend town hall meetings and public events to advocate justice and reform. Support and vote for the candidates who are committed to tackling racial injustice and prejudice.
All UK citizens can use this link to find their local MP is and call, email and make face-to-face appointments.
All UK citizens can use this link to find their local councillors, to call, email and make face-to-face appointments.
All UK citizens can use this link to contact the Prime Minister -
London residents can use this link to contact their Mayor's office –
Birmingham residents can use this link to contact their Mayor's office –
Manchester residents can use this link to contact their Mayor's office -
5. SIGN & SHARE PETITIONS AND SPREAD AWARENESS
Below are links to some active petitions to sign. Share with your family and friends, as well as on social media to raise awareness.
Keep an eye on sites like change.org, Avaaz, 38 Degrees and Getup for new petitions and causes to support. You can also start online petitions on these sites to make your voice heard.
6. DONATE TO THE CAUSES
Activism does not come cheap and donations big and small all make a huge difference. Next time you have some spare change, donate to causes that actively seek to improve the lives of the black community.
Donate to the Black Lives Matter Global Network - https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019
Donate/Fundraise for the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust - https://www.stephenlawrence.org.uk/support-us/donate/
Donate to 100 Black Men –
Donate to the London Black Women's Project –
Donate to Inside Out –
Donate to the Godwin Lawson Foundation –
Donate to the Black Child Agenda –
Donate to the Amos Bursary –
7. CHALLENGE AND CONFRONT RACISM WHEN YOU SEE IT
Education organisation The Conscious Kid, has categorised examples of white supremacy into ‘overt’ and ‘covert’.
Recognise both forms of racism and challenge non-black people in your life -family, friends, co-workers, teachers when they say something racist. Push people to think critically about their language and what impact their words have on others.
Non-black people of colour can also learn and recognise the unique challenges and history of ‘anti-blackness’, and challenge anti-black sentiment within their own communities.
In an article for the Guardian, Ahmed Olayinka Sule writes:
“It is an appropriate time for anti-blackness to be classified separately from racism and given its own prominence. The one-size-fits-all approach to tackling racism leaves undersupported the racial group which suffers the most brutality, hatred and discrimination.”
Below are some links to excellent resources aimed at helping people challenge and confront racism when they come across it.