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These are my thoughts, yo.

Filtering by Tag: white allies

4 Priorities for White Allies

jasmine banks

Establish Accountability

What people of color hold you accountable? That is a real question. Have you approached a person of color and had this very important conversation with them: "Yo. So I just realized I have to do something about this race stuff and I need some accountability. Can I form an accountability situation with you were I welcome your critique. Can you call me out when I am veering of the path?" If you are not in relationships with folks who are leading change in the communities you are in coalition with, you may be caused unintentional harm that you are blind to. 

So what does accountability look like?

Folks who are oppressed because of their race and gender (among other intersections) have far less power than you. Engaging in a mentorship/accountability relationship with a person of color means that you are resisting the way that white supremacy socialized you. You are submitting to the leadership of the kind of person white supremacy say you are superior to. Accountability will look like you trusting the experiences your accountability partner communicate. It looks like opening yourself up to understanding the multi-deminisonal experiences you'll witness as you grow your connection with people of color. 

  • determine that you'll both be committed the process of transformation through the work you do together
  • establish what you need with your accountability partner. what are the first steps you are taking to unlearn your whiteness and confront the ways in which you've participated in oppression 
  • remember this isn't a white guilt dumping ground! this relationship isn't for you to cry and feel bad. this is about mutual learning and communication 
  • agree to be open, honest, and clear with one another
  • create a rhythm: be intentional about connecting on a week basis in ways that work for both parties


Waking up the realization that you've been complicit in the systemic oppression is emotionally devastating.  Shame, guilt, and the wash of emotions that accompany the awakening that you are experiencing can result in intense emotional upheaval. It is your duty to take good care of yourself so that you can continue in this work. It i not a sprint-- it is a marathon. If you burn yourself out because you've not managed caring well for yourself, you are not good in the fight. Establish boundaries for yourself as you are growing in this process. Determine how you'll decompress when you begin to the feel the weight of your work.


Engage in History Self-Education 

f you've been asleep in the comfort of white supremacy you'll soon learn that waking up means you are behind the curve in education. You'll come to understand that you've been taught history and narratives by a system that seeks to keep white folks shiftless and people of color oppressed. Take time to really dig deep and learn about actual factual oral accounts and histories of people of color. Be prepared to re-engage learning because you'll have to learn AS you do your work. You do not have permission to sit and do nothing while you learn. You can find a solid starting point here.  

Start Where You Are

You can't exactly walk into the White House and destroy it and re-build a better system. When you evaluate the "To-Do" items on the list of dismantling systemic oppression it can become overwhelming. Don't try and save the world. Save one space at a time. 


What you'll find is that Black folks, the texture of our lives, and our participation are absent from many of the spaces you move in and out of with freedom. Wonder why your church leadership committees are all white. Wonder why you school parent teacher organization has zero diversity. Do not make it the job of the marginalized to create their own seat at the table. Begin to disrupt business as usual by requiring that the spaces you occupy begin to intentionally seek to include and draw from people of color and their leadership. Assuage yourself of the inclination that any person of color should be responsible for reaching out to you to be included and listened to. Become incredibly critical of the folks in your spaces who are leaders. Schools, media, religious institutions, and other systems should be under inspection. Is your priest committed to antiracism in more than their words? Does the 2nd grad teacher at your child's school create curriculum that is inclusive and culturally competent? Start asking yourself this very important question over and over again: who is here, who isn't, and why?

I believe in you. We can do this work together.

Examining Safety Pins (for fuck's sake I can't even believe this is a title)

jasmine banks

My friend said to me, "those safety pins should just be pearl necklaces so all the white folks who are shocked about Trump can clutch them." Oy. Yeah. The wave of safety pin evaluations and critiques swelled. We read think pieces. "Pro Safety Pin" squared up against "Anti-Safety Pin." You know what the safety pin situation did? It distracted us from the discomfort at staring at our humanity. The distraction romanced us into multi-comment debates that kept us from confronting the actual hate, the actual oppression, the actual reality. If I can gasp and clutch my safety pin and then fight you about why I should have the right to wear it and OMG WHY DON'T YOU CRITIQUE MY SAFETY PIN WITH A KINDER TONE. you better call me in if you want me to do this ally work. Well. If I can successfully busy myself I don't have to settle into the painful world all of my previous actions contributed to build. The shouts about safety pins drowned out the voices of those who were vulnerable and suffering real life consequences of harm from  a system they did not build. Patrick Stewart instagrammed his safety pin, so it has to be okay, yeah? Jean Luc Picard never gets it wrong.

A function of white supremacy is to render its victims shiftless and distracted. The ways in which white supremacy permeates ally culture is no exception Can a gesture meant to be an act of solidarity actually compound the problem? Ask all the folks at Standing Rock.  Ally work, if you want to call it that, requires a massive amount of self-awareness and willingness to be called out. 

Do More than wear a safety pin.

Beyond the main critique of the safety pin are the echoing requests, "wear the pin if you must- but DO THE WORK TOO." The retort is: you are being cynical, why would you assume that is all the person wearing a safety pin is doing? Do you know the historical implications of white "allies" who invest the least amount of work and still require the most credit? Whiteness is inherently lazy, yo.

Does your safety pin equate empathy?

Your empathy doesn't mean that you've educated yourself about the history, the struggle, and effects of white supremacy and anti-black racism to which you've been complicit. 

Most folks know why sympathy and engaging in White Savior behavior are problematic. Have you considered why your empathy might be problematic as well? Your empathy assumes you have access and can share the feelings of another. What do you know about being attacked in public because you are a Black queer person? Your privilege keeps you from accessing true empathy. 

Do white people get to self-designate their safety?

 It is a bit presumptuous for white folks to proclaim their safety, no? The performative function of the safety pin is puzzling. It is one part "hey so I am not a bigot and racist" and one part "count me safe."  But are you safe? Have you divested from the systems that continue to harm folks on the margins? Have you amplified their voices and centered their stories. Sharing the stories of how you intervened while wearing your safety pin is suffering porn baked into grotesque White Savior casserole. So foul. I am so happy that Muslim woman hugged you when she saw you wearing your pin on the bus. Do you feel better telling us about it? 

"My safety pin is a signal that I am a safe space, look for it, and I'll be there to help you." Um. Can you please your white guilt bat signal? The light is shining right in my eyes. It is not the job of the marginalized to look for folks with privilege who are safe. It is the job of those with power to look for ways in which they can dismantle their privilege and divest from systems that dominate and cause harm. 

For impactful white allyship there must be a deep commitment to finding all of your default inclinations suspicious. You should doubt your reflexes. You should second guess what feels and right and comfortable. If you've been socialized to default to white supremacy, then it would stand to reason that even your best intentions can be subject to those engrained biases and discriminations you've internalized.  Moreover it would seem rather obvious that one's emotional trajectory always veers toward centering whiteness. There is a junction where the white person desires to be an ally as a result of their empathy (and a lot of guilt), but they have not laid the groundwork to understand how to engage in antiracism work without being harmful. This is the juncture I find most folks who are committed to the safety pin. That is okay. We all do have to start somewhere. Don't stay there. Be more committed to the quality of Black Lives than your safety pin.