8 Ways White Folks Can Be Better Allies

1. Educate yourself.

 It is not the job of the oppressed to educate the oppressor.

Did you know you can take Africana Studies, Latin American Studies, Arab Studies, East Asian Studies, and South Asian Studies classes right here at Davidson College? You can take classes focusing on Native Americans in the History Department. Also, you can take classes focusing on disabilities in the English department and Gender & Sexuality Studies classes to learn how to be a better ally to people with disabilities and the LGBTQ community.

In your free time, or when school’s not in session, you can read books and articles written by people of color (POC), queer individuals, and people with disabilities and disorders.

Finally, diversify your twitter and Instagram feeds. Follow black, Hispanic, middle eastern, and Asian influencers so you can get their perspectives and learn from them. Find trans activists and mental health advocates on social media and follow them too!

2. Amplify queer and minority voices!

Cite scholars of color, thinkers who have disabilities, and LGBT intellectuals in your academic writing.

Retweet their thoughts and calls for change.

Talk about their work (art, writing, activism) in daily conversation.

3. Show up.

Make a sign and go to the protest! Go to that rally in solidarity! Sign the petition. Participate in the boycott. Call your representative. Attend that event on campus. You can’t just talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk! But don't monopolize the conversation or try to hold the attention. You can be there to support the marginalized, but let their voices be heard.

4. Don’t get defensive.

When someone says a something that’s critical of white people or men or whatever privileged group you belong to, don’t you dare say “But not all (men/white people/fill in the blank) are like that.” Everyone in that conversation is already aware that not everyone in a certain group thinks/acts a certain way. They have a right to voice their frustrations, even if what they said seems like a generalization to you. So shut your mouth and listen to what they're saying.

When someone calls you out for saying something racist/sexist/able-bodied/homophobic/etc., listen to them. Don’t jump to defend yourself. Apologize and think about how you need to change your thinking or modify your vocabulary.

5. Patronize businesses owned by people of color!

This is one way to combat economic inequalities.

Get your snacks at Tienda Mexicana María at 19816 S Main St in Cornelius instead of CVS.

Buy makeup from a Black-owned cosmetics company. Look here for a list.

Support Latinx artists by shopping online at their Etsy stores.

Shop for gifts at Muslim-owned businesses like Zakiyah Candles or Zaiken Jewelry.

Also, you can use the app Spendwith to buy and sell items within your local Black, Latino, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, Veteran, and LGBT communities. Plus, find categories for Women-owned business.

6. Call out your friends, relatives, classmates, and coworkers when what they say is not okay.

 Explain to them why what they said is unacceptable. Hold people accountable.

7. Do not automatically go to your friends of color with your worries and burdens.

Hannah Giorgis explains this well: “Emotional labor is exhausting, and people of color are already carrying the burden of existing as targets in this openly hostile terrain.”

8. Make sure your feminism is intersectional.

Okay, so you believe that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities. But do you recognize that "patriarchy affects all women differently, leaving some further behind in the dust than others?" (Stephanie Hallet). Do you support and advocate for raising the minimum wage? Women of color are overrepresented among those who work in low-wage and minimum wage jobs. Do you use people's preferred pronouns? Misgendering is a significant stressor for trans and non-binary individuals. Do you avoid speaking with ableist language such as using mental disorders as adjectives? Is your body positivity fat-positive

Thanks to Dr. Melissa González for the time she has spent educating, mentoring, and working with me on issues of allyship and accompliceship. She taught me many of the above ideas and had guided me in my work as a student organizer, and I am so grateful.

Note: I'm a white ally who's still got a lot to learn. If you have any corrections to what I've said or any additional suggestions on how to be a good ally, feel free to email me at [email protected]. Or contact [email protected] if you want to write your own article on the subject.