‘Discomfort is part of change’: How to be an ally in fighting anti-black racism

‘Discomfort is part of change’: How to be an ally in fighting anti-black racism

‘Discomfort is part of change’: How to be an ally in fighting anti-black racism

As protests over the deaths of black people during encounters with police have roiled the United States and Canada, many supporters are eager to take a stand, but run the risk of crowding out black voices on the front lines of the movement.

Advocates and academics say being an ally extends far beyond sharing hashtags on social media. It’s an ongoing commitment to educating yourself about anti-black racism and your role within it, listening to and amplifying black voices and speaking up when they go unheard.

To understand what it takes to be an ally, The Canadian Press spoke to Kathy Hogarth, associate professor at University of Waterloo’s school of social work; Aklil Noza, health and society student at McMaster University in Hamilton and Dexter Voisin, dean of the University of Toronto’s faculty of social work. Here’s what they had to say:

An ally is not a hashtag

Hogarth: An ally is a verb, not a noun. It’s not a tag that we wear. It’s borne out in our actions. I think in our current climate, what is most important is for us to see is that we are standing together in solidarity. That we understand what’s happening in our world not as a black problem, but as all of our problems. So we stand together, because it is only together we will defeat this.

Don’t ask to be taught, take it upon yourself to learn

Hogarth: Half of your work as an ally is doing your homework, doing your own work and not asking those who are victimized to educate you on top of it.

Noza: A quick Google search can save yourself a conversation that may disrupt the grieving process for many black individuals who are in collective mourning at this time and aren’t obligated to be teachers at any point in time.

Don’t take centre stage

Hogarth: Being an ally has limitations. Because you can go home at night and you wear allyship like a pair of jeans, and you can take it off. For those whose bodies are constantly under attack, they don’t have those options of taking it off. So when you wear your allyship badge, I ask that you wear it responsibly. Being an ally does not mean taking the stage. It’s not about you. It’s about dismantling the system.

Listen with compassion

Voisin: What you don’t want to happen is that folks have intellectual curiosity or they look into somebody else’s experience from a voyeuristic standpoint. It’s what some folks call the “pornography of pain” — when you look into someone else’s pain without compassion or empathy…

Don’t patronize by saying, ‘I understand what you mean.’ … Maybe because of the identities and the intersecting identities that a person might hold, they may have experiences that you will never understand or feel or experience. And that’s not really your job.

Amplify black voices

Hogarth: Sometimes as an ally, you just need to pass the mic. Then sometimes as an ally, maybe you’re just a water carrier. And that has to be OK, too. Black bodies have been undergoing centuries of violence. (And that’s) where our allies come in, if you can picture buttressing, pushing from behind, supporting those weary hands as they are risen, and holding your hand up as you hold theirs up.

Use your privilege to speak up for justice

Hogarth: Understand your privilege. It is not about shaming you. The only time you should feel shame about your privilege is when you don’t use it to advance justice…. Understand that when you speak, you are heard in ways that when racialized folks speak, they are not heard. So use your privilege of voice.

Noza: I can be seen as an angry black woman when I speak up to defend myself. I ask that if a non-black person sees something, they say something, ultimately, because white outrage is unfortunately valued more than mine.

racism

Just Posted

Red Deer respiratory therapist Sarah MacKenzie was among the first central Alberta health professionals to receive the Pfizer vaccine in December 2020. Since then, nearly 3.4 million doses have been administered and COVID cases are falling rapidly. Photo by Alberta Health Services
Red Deer COVID cases continue to fall sharply

Red Deer cases almost into the double digits after topping more than 900 only five weeks ago

(Advocate file photo.)
Red Deer city council discusses strategies to restore integrated emergency dispatching

Red Deer city councillors discussed additional ways on Tuesday to try to… Continue reading

Local developers who are doing building upgrades or new construction will face less land servicing costs and gain some flexibility. (File photo by Advocate staff)
From left: Montana First Nation councillor Reggie Rabbit, Samson Cree Nation councillor Louise Omeasoo, Samson Cree Nation councillor Katherine Swampy, Samson Cree Nation councillor Shannon Buffalo and Samson Cree Nation chief Vern Saddleback were present during the painting of the Maskwacis Pride crosswalk. (Contributed photo)
Being gay made him contemplate suicide: Councillor in Maskwacis opens up

Maskwacis got a bit mote colourful over the weekend. Volunteers spent Saturday… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta (44) celebrates with defenseman Victor Hedman (77) after Rutta scored against the New York Islanders during the third period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Kucherov shines, Lightning beat Islanders 4-2 in Game 2

Lightning 4 Islanders 2 (Series tied 2-2) TAMPA, Fla. — Brayden Point… Continue reading

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) shoots as Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton (24) defends during the fourth quarter of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Durant’s sensational performance sends Nets to 3-2 lead

Nets 114 Bucks 108 (Brooklyn leads series 3-2) NEW YORK (AP) —… Continue reading

New York Yankees starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery throws to a Toronto Blue Jays batter during the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Frazier snaps tie, Yankees come back to beat Blue Jays 6-5

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Clint Frazier snapped an eighth-inning tie with a pinch-hit… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Pornhub says it has removed all content uploaded by non-verified users. The sex website faced accusations it hosted illegal content. The company, which is owned by Montreal-based Mindgeek, says it has suspended all previously uploaded content that was not created by one of its content partners or members of its Model Program. THE CANADIAN PRESS
International women’s rights advocates call on Canada to hold Pornhub to account

Jeanette Westbrook says being sexually abused as a child will haunt her… Continue reading

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2021 file photo, transporters Miguel Lopez, right, Noe Meza prepare to move a body of a COVID-19 victim to a morgue at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles. The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has topped 600,000, even as the vaccination drive has drastically slashed daily cases and deaths and allowed the country to emerge from the gloom. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
US COVID-19 deaths hit 600,000, equal to yearly cancer toll

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 topped 600,000 on Tuesday, even as… Continue reading

FILE - In this April 1, 2019 file photo, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry talks about health care legislation he's backing in the upcoming session, in Baton Rouge, La. The Biden administration’s suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and water was blocked Tuesday by a federal judge in Louisiana. U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty's ruling came in a lawsuit filed in March by Louisiana’s Republican attorney general, Jeff Landry and officials in 12 other states. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte, File)
Federal judge blocks Biden’s pause on new oil, gas leases

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Biden administration’s suspension of new oil and… Continue reading

Israeli police officers detain a Palestinian man during clashes that erupted ahead of a planned march by Jewish ultranationalists through east Jerusalem, outside Jerusalem's Old City, Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Israelis march in east Jerusalem in test for new government

JERUSALEM (AP) — Hundreds of Israeli ultranationalists, some chanting “Death to Arabs,”… Continue reading

Montreal Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher (11) vies for the puck with Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (7) during the third period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Vets Pietrangelo, Perry contributing for Vegas, Montreal

LAS VEGAS — Alex Pietrangelo and Corey Perry had very different free… Continue reading

Most Read