Dear White Allies: Don’t Appropriate Our Anger

This originally appeared as a public post on my Facebook profile. Want to support my community work? Contribute to my Patreon.

Note to white allies: When you beat up on your fellow white people for being ignorant about racism, you are NOT HELPING. Those naïve white people just waking up to racial justice? That want to do the right thing but are saying the wrong thing because they were just born to the struggle yesterday?

They are YOUR JOB #1. YOU are supposed to empathize with their white fragility, get them past their self-centering feels, and bring them over to the right side of history.

Why? SO PEOPLE OF COLOR DON’T HAVE TO.

A white woman at a march holds up a sign with a Black comic character that reads, “Avdol Says: Black Lives Matter!”
Black Lives Matter demonstration in front of the US Consulate General in Hamburg, Germany. Photo by Rasande Tyskar, used under Creative Commons license. Image available here.

Sound exhausting, frustrating, and slow? You bet it is! So is any work for liberation! It’s not all speeches and cookies. This is The Work.

Don’t want to do it alone? Find your nearest Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) chapter and promise to hold your Newly Woke White Ally’s hand at a meeting.

Here’s what doesn’t help: taking on the mantle of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color’s rage and tearing down well-intentioned but ignorant white folks on our behalf. Our anger isn’t yours. It doesn’t belong to you. By being angry and berating other white people for being asleep all this time, you are actually centering yourself and your feelings — a mistake you should leave behind in White Allying 101.

We need you to be the Movement Greeter: a friendly face, a patient guide. Check out White Nonsense Roundup. They model this role for you.

In your lifetime, a person of color — or many — probably took the time to educate you when you meant well but wrong-stepped. Intentions do not excuse harmful effects, but if we are to grow this movement, the well-intentioned need to be educated to know and do better.

Too often, that job falls to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). It’s exhausting, emotionally fraught, sometimes traumatizing for us, because it’s our struggle.

Three white women hold cardboard signs that say “White Silence = Violence” and “Black Lives Matter” with an upraised fist.
Three white women hold cardboard signs that say “White Silence = Violence” and “Black Lives Matter” with an upraised fist.
Black Lives Matter demonstration in front of the US Consulate General in Hamburg, Germany. Photo by Rasande Tyskar, used under Creative Commons license. Image available here.

Writer, activist, inclusion and equity consultant. Parenting, immigration, LGBTQ+, racial justice. Patreon.com/jorjorian. Pub list: www.anooshjorjorian.com.

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