[Climate March, NYC, September 21, 2014]
An overheard conversation between two white college-aged men in Davis Square Friday night after a protest march re the Eric Garner and Ferguson grand jury decisions—an eight-mile, thousand-people-strong march organized by Tufts students: “Yeah, well, if you’re going to be an ally, be an ally!” Exactly!
Last week, thousands of Americans took their collective grief and rage at this nation’s pervasive, insidious racism to the streets. And the media/social media responded. On Friday night, for example, four news-channel helicopters whirled over Somerville and Cambridge taping the march! Four! (Although maybe one helicopter held the police?) Today’s New York Times features a photo of a “die in” at NYC’s City Hall. Tweets? Facebook posts? Hell, yeah.
Okay: Let’s talk about what happens after these protests are no longer the flavor of the month. Let’s talk strategy. And, dear white people, let’s talk about being allies.
Okay, so here’s the moment when I risk being: a) Preachy b) Patronizing c) Smug d)Holier than Thou e) All of the above plus other unattractive and off-putting characteristics so much a part of who I am that I can’t even see them
Here’s what I want to tell other white people about being an ally:
Be humble. Prepare to be horrified at how often you’ll mess up, no matter how much you try, you care, you’ve read and discussed and understand.