Many white organizers feel awkward or uncertain about how to show up to support Black and brown communities under attack. And yet we all must show up. Even though it’s so much easier to stay quiet, well-intentioned silence is one of the many reasons our country has not moved forward. Below, we’re going to give you some tips and best practices so you can be the best ally possible. Know that you will make mistakes - know that you will not feel like you are doing everything right - but know this - by NOT showing up, you enable the systemic racism that has plagued our country for years.
DO: Learn more about anti-racism and how to be an ally.
Start reading these books and resources:
- White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
- Qualified Immunity: Explained
- Anti-Racism Resources for White People
- Allyship Mindset and Common Pitfalls (video)
DO: Take action.
Donate to Black and Brown led organizations that are doing work in and for the community. Partner with Black and Brown community based organizations and support their work with your advocacy. Talk to your friends and friends about how Black and Brown communities are impacted by the extremist agenda.
DO: Check in with Black and other People of Color in your group.
Reach out and let them know you’re thinking about them and want to support them. Try to avoid having one person receive multiple contacts, while others may receive no contact by creating a call assignment list. A call assignment list helps by making sure that everyone is contacted while also respecting people’s time and they might need space to care for themselves and their community.
Avoid saying things like “I get it” or “I totally understand,” while well-intentioned, white people will never truly understand the pain and fear Black and Brown people live with. Instead, say something like “I can’t imagine what you’re feeling right now but I want you to know I support you and I’m here to help you through this” or “I’m never going to be able to fully understand what you’re feeling, but I would like to help support you as best I can and welcome a conversation about what that might look like for you.”
DON’T: Post the videos of people being murdered.
Black activists have said loud and clear that seeing these videos repeatedly on their feeds is triggering and harmful, take them at their word and don’t post graphic videos.
DON’T: Plan your own protest.
First off, it is not your place to lead; reach out to trusted Black-led and Brown-led organizations in your area. See what they are planning. Ask what they need, if there’s any assistance you can provide. Step BACK during planning calls, step BACK during press moments. For example, while you may have led 200 protests over healthcare, this is not your space. This is your space to follow and support.
DO: Respond to clueless or racist posts (intentional or unintentional) and call folks in.
This is the time for your leadership to step up and address each post.. Here’s a good article that explains the difference between calling in and calling out. Also, it is NOT solely the role of your POC members to address these posts, it is also your role as a white organizer and leader. This is a moment you can move your group forward.
DO: Take safety precautions if you attend in-person events.
Indivisible can’t make any guarantees about your safety. If you choose to attend protests or other events, Wired has identified best practices for safety. Know the risks and do what you can to minimize the risk for you and those around you.
- Research any demonstrations you plan to attend. Before committing to participate in a given protest, ensure it represents your values. Does it center those who are most harmed by an issue? Do its leaders prioritize nonviolence and have experience with de-escalation strategies? Do you feel comfortable supporting their demands? Answering key questions like these can prevent you from being a part of a disorganized, problematic, or unsafe event.
- Bring extra masks and hand sanitizer for others at the protest that don’t have them.
- Attend with a protest buddy. Stay together and have the number for your local or state legal aid organization or chapter of the National Lawyers Guild written on your arm in case you are arrested. Let your buddy know who to contact if you are arrested.
- Be aware of the health implications of being arrested, both for you and your community.
- If you are Black or Brown and are arrested, please let the National Lawyers Guild know when you call.
DON’T: Speak to the press, instead redirect them to a person from the impacted community who wants to speak
As a white organizer, when the press comes near, it's our job to push the press to someone from the impacted community, with their permission. Do NOT speak for the community. While it may feel flattering to be asked our opinion, our role is to have the community affected speak for themselves. Note that not everyone will be safe with their picture taken or name in the press, especially if police are becoming violent or making arrests, so ask before you redirect the press.
DON’T: Respond with “violence is not the answer” or post about looting.
Looting and rioting have a long history in this country as a form of political action. As a white organizer, this is a topic where you can provide education to your family, friends and fellow group members. Here is an article from the New York Times that provides perspective.