Every time these incidents occur, many of us wonder what we can do to support our African American friends beyond distressed online postings, and in real and meaningful ways.
Being an ally, a person who is not a member of a particular marginalized group, but who seeks to help end the oppression of those in the marginalized group, is an ongoing process. Allyship can mean different things to different people, and it can be difficult to know where to start.
This is not an exhaustive list, but here are some ways you can support underserved communities.
Offer support and comfort.
Control your friends who don’t look like you when a high-profile incident or tragedy occurs. Affirm that you are there for them in any way they need.
Educate yourself and others
Do your research.
Do what you can to educate yourself before asking others to explain things to you. There are a wealth of resources available to you online. Google is your friend.
Ask questions when necessary.
We are all learning, and it is okay to ask questions.
But keep in mind who you ask, he says writer Courtney Ariel
. Don’t lean too heavily on people of color or other marginalized groups to be your “experts.”
It is best if the person you are asking is someone with whom you already have a strong relationship. And be prepared to accept that some people may not want to discuss those things with you.
Asking “How could something like this happen?” when another police encounter turns deadly it may seem deaf to communities that have been dealing with entrenched systems of oppression, Ariel writes
. Make sure you are up to date before weighing.
Influence people in your own group.
Talk to people in your own life, particularly those who share the same identity as you, Jamie Utt wrote for Everyday feminism
. Educate your friends and family about how systems of oppression affect marginalized groups. Hold them accountable for their words and actions, as well as the roles they can play in those systems.
Teach your children.
It is never too early. Talk explicitly with your children about racism and other forms of discrimination. Don’t teach them to be “colorblind,” says author Jennifer Harvey. Let them know that it is important to notice differences and teach them to stand up for others.
Acknowledge your mistakes.
Allyship is a process. Along the way, you will surely do or say something wrong from time to time. Don’t be defensive. Take responsibility for slips. And do better moving forward.
Acknowledge your privilege.
A critical part of being an ally is recognizing the benefits and power you have in society because of the identity you were born with, he says. organizational change consultant Frances Kendall
. Be aware of yourself and be willing to go against others who share your privileges.
Racism and other forms of oppression are everywhere, even if you don’t experience them yourself. Train yourself to notice them on a personal and institutional level, he says. writer and activist Paul Kivel
. Take note of what is said (and what is not) and who is there (and who is not). Recognize how prejudice, discrimination and oppression are denied, minimized or justified.
Know when to talk less.
This is not about you. You do not need to comment on each situation with your own perspective, nor do you do everything possible to demonstrate how conscious or educated you are, Ariel says
. Elevate others without speaking for them. Let others have the microphone for a change.
Understand the experiences of others.
Instead of offering your own thoughts, listen to marginalized people when they tell you about their experiences, frustrations, and emotions. Sit with it for a little while.
You can’t do this job alone. Find other partners you can work with and hold each other accountable. Partner with organizations that are doing the same work as you. Support people of color who are leaders.
Use your privilege to help others.
It can be scary, but take risks, Kivel writes
. Call injustice or discrimination when you see it. Intervene when you see cases of racism or other situations that seem unsafe.
Use the 5 D’s of intervention of spectators
. That includes reducing the situation, calling others for help, consulting with the person involved, speaking, and documenting what is happening.
Know your rights when videotaping.
You are allowed by the Constitution to film the police on duty
, as long as you don’t interfere with their activities. Keep a safe distance. Capture signs or landmarks to help identify the location.
Express your concerns to those in power.
Stand in solidarity.
March alongside people from marginalized groups in protests and rallies.
Donate your time and money.
This could take many forms, says ariel
. Offer to help people who could benefit from your experience. Help a family pay their bills. Identify organizations whose work aligns with your goals and provide what you can.
Make sure you are registered
. And do it in all elections, not only in the big ones.
CNN’s AJ Willingham contributed to this report.