Social media platforms are crowded with companies, brands, and influencers standing in solidarity with the Black community. A few brands have nailed it with their approach and sincerity, while others have faltered in the delivery.
Now that the nation is at a tipping point with protests in multiple cities, people came together behind Black Out Tuesday. A sea of black squares drowned out the pertinent information that so many Black voices have contributed to.
White allies are retracting their voices from the conversation in solidarity by boldly declaring, “We are muted and we are listening. Your voice matters right now, not mine.”
Yes, amplifying Black voices is critical and the sentiments are welcomed, but it is important that White allies take a moment to realize how the people with Black voices feel at this moment.
Black people don’t feel safe. Black people are hurting. Black people are traumatized. Most importantly, Black people are tired.
Black people are shouting the names of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, David McAtee and others who have all had their lives taken too soon, murdered without any justification. The fight to value their lives continues as Black voices have to offer reason for others to understand that the root of the civil unrest is the bigger picture. Lives cannot be replaced, buildings and property can.
For White allies, whose intentions are inspiring, the time is not now to disappear from the conversation.
Many White allies have not been showing up for the conversations like Black people need them to. Black voices have often been met with discontent, discomfort, or excuses for the experiences they’ve shared in the workplace, in casual conversations and in public discourse.
Eight minutes and 46 seconds was the amount of time George Floyd was suffocated. Yet even after hearing this, some White peers offer excuses as to how Black people should react to this atrocity.
When White allies remove themselves from the conversation, they are leaving the burden of educating the ignorant people –who would much rather harp on the lost capital instead of slain Black bodies to Black people. This forces Black people into positions of carrying more pain as they battle white supremacy and racism, on top of supporting Black communities as they take to the streets.
It is not the responsibility of Black voices to change Aunt Karen or Uncle John’s racist views.
White allies can amplify Black Voices while still making the time to speak up.The National Organization of Women offers this advice, “Speaking up seems difficult at first, but you can get better at it with practice.”
It is critical that White allies challenge those who don’t understand the racial injustices and systematic racism that has led to the civil unrest. When Black people have tried to protest the discrepancies in the system, it was deemed inadequate. So much so that White people protested by cutting up and burning clothing.
Nobody is asking White allies to present themselves are experts on the Black experience. They cannot expect Black people to provide the tools needed to understand racial injustice and oppression.
Resources and experts exist to educate you. Robin DiAngelo explains in her book, White Fragility, that understanding and recognizing race is the only way to move forward in justice. “If she were ever going to understand or challenge racism, she would need to acknowledge this difference.”
Allies are expected to show up and speak to why anti-racism is important. They need to answer why they want to see change.
Families, friends, and strangers should no longer have to view a video of their loved ones being hunted down or asphyxiated in broad daylight. The continued viewing of slain bodies is not only traumatic to Black people, but everyone in the nation should be tired of the onslaught of those images.
Black people are exhausted. White allies need to speak up and out. They need to amplify and dispute historic and prevalent claims that racism doesn’t exist. They need not to black out for one day, but to step into the fight for justice.