Are you committed to standing up against racial injustice, yet you regretfully find yourself proceeding cautiously because you do not want to do or say the wrong thing? Perhaps you are enthusiastic in your solidarity for Black lives, anti-Asian violence, and Indigenous lives, yet you are unsure of what to do next? It’s understandable to recognize the breadth of racial injustice while also feeling overwhelmed by it all, rendering you stuck in justice-paralysis, the very place you should not be in.
Here are three ways to get yourself unstuck and moving toward becoming an effective racial ally.
1. Raise your Awareness: First and foremost, it is important to move forward in your allyship journey with compassion. Compassion for yourself and compassion towards others. There may be many issues of race and racism you do not yet understand, but your heart and mind have been exposed to enough information to make you uneasy to simply standby and do nothing. Well, “awareness” is where your journey begins.
Commit to investing in your learning development. It is not enough to maintain your current level of knowledge, but rather you must push yourself to learn and grow. Participate in anti-racism and diversity workshops that elevate your understanding on how systemic racism operates and the power structures that keep these systems in place. Read books on Indigenous history in America, sign up for a course or certificate program that will expand your knowledge. The more you learn, the more competent you will feel, and the better you will understand your role on making a difference as an ally.
2. Build your Courage: Your awareness journey will help you deeply understand the actual power that you have to help uphold or dismantle injustice. To build your courage you must understand your why. Specifically, why do you want to stand up against racism and injustice. You must dig in deep to understand your motives, which may be a clear no-brainer to you. Nevertheless, it is important that you are crystal clear on your reasons for being an ally.
Practice writing you reasons down and saying them out loud. Does racism and bigotry disgust you? Do you want to change your legacy? Write it down. Once you are resolute on your stance, you will be better equipped to find the strength in your voice and act as a powerful change agent who stands up against injustice. Being afraid to interrupt injustice will no longer be an option.
3. Take Action: Take the time to learn how an effective ally should show up for a community. Develop a clear plan that includes micro and macro steps towards dismantling injustice. Perhaps in your interpersonal exchanges, you will vocally advocate for anti-racist initiatives at work, or parity in promotional opportunities for your colleagues of color. To impact systemic changes, you may decide to get more involved government and policy development. Equally as important is to invest your financial resources in organizations that are dismantling systemic injustice. You will have to do the research to find what works for you, but you do must do something. Always.
It is not enough to simply raise your awareness-level or feel sympathy over a racial injustice. Effective allyship requires you to take action and it must be meaningful action. Once you have taken the time to go through these three steps, you will need to repeat the process again. This is your measure of accountability.
Issues of equity, diversity and racial justice are never ending, concepts and language are ever changing, yet core issues remain the same. To stay effective as an ally, you will need to remain informed. Most important of all, an ally does not speak for others but rather amplifies the voices of the communities they serve. Activate your power to make a difference.
Dr. Rassheedah Watts, The Inclusive Community Architect™ is a speaker, certified diversity trainer, allyship coach and award-winning diversity practitioner committed to elevating human connections and activating people’s inner courage. She specializes in engaging the heart toward action on issues of diversity, inclusion, and leadership. For more information visit www.DrRassheedah.com