Volume 1, Issue 9: Ally is a Verb

This is a public issue of Enthusiastic Encouragement & Dubious Advice. Feel free to share it!
"Being Black is having a good day and then seeing another Black person was killed for no reason. Then you have to think about/talk about that all day. Or don't and numb yourself. It's a constant emotional war. Meanwhile you still need to work and worry about everything else." Tweet from @quintab
May 28, 2020

"Being Black is having a good day and then seeing another Black person was killed for no reason. Then you have to think about/talk about that all day. Or don't and numb yourself. It's a constant emotional war. Meanwhile you still need to work and worry about everything else." Link to original Tweet

Breonna Taylor.

George Floyd.

Ahmaud Arbery.

Tony McDade.

At least Christian Cooper got to live.

“At least.”

I am tired. Deep in my bones tired. Negro spirtual level tired. It isn't enough that this pandemic is disproportionately shitting on Black and brown people. White supremacy still needs to do the most.

This week has been weird. I mean, it’s been terrifying, but also weird on a personal level. It’s great to see many of my non-Black friends post quotes and “Black Lives Matter” and resources on how to be a better ally to Black people. But then, I’m gonna say it, it’s weird to have close to zero of these friends actually reach out and check on me. Two people have reached out unprompted, one being my auntie. I am not complaining, but I will tell you that it’s fuckin’ weird.

“Ally” is a verb.

So is “friend.”

Next week I’ll probably post all kinds of resources but today is for some basics.

When the Pulse Nightclub massacre happened, I texted every one of my queer friends. I am from the San Francisco Bay Area. That was A LOT of people.

I didn’t want to do it. I am queer and I was also hurting. But if actual allyship was easy, then everyone would be doing a much better job of it.

And that’s the thing, right? People don’t want to go the extra distance. People want to post quotes. Retweet. Regram. Maybe ask, “What can I do?” and then your Black friend says, “Read this” or “Donate here” or “Speak out against white supremacy in your own family” and then people don’t actually do it. They think that asking “what can I do?” is enough.

People don’t want to put in the work to be anti-racist. It’s not convenient. It’s not easy.

To quote Angela Davis:

“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”

We want to acknowledge our Black sisters and brothers in the USA right now. We see you, we feel for you and we are with you (in spirit and in the fight for justice). We are here to mobilize & organize however we can from a distance. We weren’t going to include a caption for this post because the tweets say it all... however, after speaking to a number of you in the United States, we couldn’t fail to hold space and acknowledge you.
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#georgeloyd
#icantbreathe
#ericgarner
May 28, 2020

“Pay attention to how much overt white supremacy & anti-Black violence white folks need to be presented w/ to start paying attention & saying something. What finally humanised Black people for you? Was it having to stare a man in the eyes for 7 minutes as the life left his body?” Link to original tweet

I appreciate that non-Black people are sharing support on social networks. Please, keep spreading knowledge! But have you reached out to your Black friends? Or family members? Or coworkers? What are you doing on a human level?

Some things to start with:

  • Reach out to the Black people in your life. In the future, do it without prompting. No need to reach out to me if you haven’t already. My answer is “I’m tired and angry.”

  • Stay informed. Don’t wait for your loved ones from marginalized groups to inform you of awful shit. Pay attention. Follow people on social media who are outside of your demographic. Again, ally is a verb. Friend is a verb. It is the utmost privilege to “unplug” from the onslaught of white supremacy. Even if I leave my phone in our apartment, I never get to unplug from it. My last name comes from the people who enslaved my family. Every time I sign a check or type my email or confirm my shipping address or say my name on the podcast I am reminded that my ancestors were thought of as property. If I can get through my every single day being reminded of this, then you can follow some Black people on Twitter.

  • Don’t repost imagery of Black people being murdered where your Black loved ones can see it. Like, why would you do that? That’s just spreading fear. That’s just signaling to me “Hey look at this shit that can happen to you or your dad or your cousin or your brother at any time! It’s terrifying, right?” The same with reposting overtly racist things, like Karens being Karens. Expand this. Don’t repost transphobic shit where your trans loved ones can see it. Don’t repost shit with swastikas on it where your Jewish loved ones can see it.

  • Speak out, even when a Black person isn’t around to witness it. You do not get cookies for doing the bare minimum, my dudes.

  • Related: Your silence is noticed and it is loud. This goes for all groups. I notice when my cisgender loved ones don’t stand up against transphobia. I notice when my thin loved ones don’t stick up for fat people. I notice when my abled loved ones don’t speak up for folks with disabilities. And on and on.

  • If you ask for resources or how to help, actually follow through. Many of your marginalized loved ones respond to this question for free. Free! Don’t insult us or our time by being an ASKhole.

  • Don’t wait to speak out until one of us is brutally murdered and it is filmed and cannot be ignored. We are always being brutalized and white supremacy is always present regardless of cameras. It is always time to speak out.

That’s it for this week! If you learned something from this newsletter, feel free to subscribe, forward it to a friend, and donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund.

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