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How to Be An Effective Ally to the BLM Movement During the Pandemic (And Beyond)

We're living in the midst of a global pandemic and a revolutionary anti-racism movement all at once, so it's probably safe to say that a lot of us are treading in uncharted waters. Non-Black individuals engaging in social distancing who don't feel comfortable attending protests, such as myself, may be wondering what they can do to best serve as an ally given the current circumstances. In order to find out the best way for me to get involved from home, I reached out to a Black, male college student, currently living in St. Louis and wishing to remain anonymous, on what being an ally might look like right now.

black lives matter sign

Be Vocal

The underlying message is that “the most important thing is to be vocal… never shy away from speaking what you know is right,” he says. That means directly speaking up when witnessing racist actions or conversations taking place, both now and moving forward, wherever you see them happening. There is no such thing as an innocent bystander. Currently, being vocal might mean using personal social media accounts or having conversations either virtually or in-person. For those who don't feel comfortable attending the numerous protests or rallies taking place across the United States, you can (and should) use whatever platform(s) you have access to, to use your voice.

Engage & Get Educated

It's not enough to simply be “not a racist”. We must be anti-racist in order to create meaningful change. That involves becoming aware of the implicit bias found both within ourselves, and society as a whole. Engaging in informational conversation with POC and educating ourselves with other resources is necessary, he explains, to help advocate for justice as a non-POC ally. Seemingly small investments that build our personal knowledge on how and where racism is found uncovers personal and societal “blind spots” that need to be acknowledged in order to develop, and advocate for, effective solutions.

Go to Those in Power

While we may not personally engage in racist behavior, we live in a society that perpetuates racial inequality. As Robin DiAngelo writes in her book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism, “Stopping our racist patterns must be more important than working to convince others that we don't have them." Signing petitions and advocating for upstream change in our government, community and workplaces will change not only personal behaviors, but enforce that racist actions are not tolerated on a broader scale moving forward, all of which can be done from our homes.

Vote

Electing individuals actively working to combat racism is necessary. As explained by former president Barack Obama, our focus is often on federal seats of power. We frequently fail to remember that those who hold office in local and state governments have more control over police and criminal justice reforms, and young adults are notorious for not taking part in local elections. One of the most powerful rights we have as Americans is the right to vote for individuals to represent us in office. We are obligated to vote for those who we believe will best promote the well-being of our country. Even from our laptops, we can use time spent social distancing to inform ourselves on the viewpoints of politicians both currently holding office and those planning to run in future elections.

Continued oppression against the Black community exists whether we consciously acknowledge it or not. Fighting for systemic change is essential in order to sustain the anti-racism movement. Given that we are also in a global pandemic, the actions taken as allies to the Black community may be slightly altered depending on your personal circumstances, but silence is never the solution. Each of us has a powerful voice and can meaningfully contribute to ensure structural change is being created and enforced.