Do y’all remember that song by Brandy back in the 90’s, “I wanna be down, with what you’re going through? I wanna be down, I wanna be down with you. No matter the time, of day or night it’s true. I wanna be down.”
Sometimes allies claim to "wanna be down," then it turns into thirst and fetishizing and entertainment and hypocrisy and closed mouths and never coming out and never making donations and fragility and tears and most horribly it ends up CENTERING WHITNESS…..all the while claiming to be an ally when your sensitive ass isn’t ready to even listening to our pain, much less understand our experience (now that was a mouthful....I can't breath sometimes dealing with white allies, the emotional labor is intense). It leaves us to question what are you here for and where are you when it really counts….like when shit goes down? Like, if our lives were being threatened right now at this moment, how are you going to show up and shield us from further harm?
When allies look one way on paper or social media but look another way in person and with other white or non-black folks THERE IS A BIG PROBLEM that needs to be addressed. In the last month (year really), there have been incidences that make a mockery of this movement. Like why would an ally speak on “for members only information,” to anyone other than a member? Like why would a white woman be an administrator on a private FB page, that is titled “Black Lives Matter: Allies Unite” and allow imposters to access, take negative space, and defame the character of the said group you claim to be in ally-ship with? These are the conundrums Black folks deal with when navigating who is worthy of being an ally or not.
For some of us on the frontlines, our lives are overly intertwined in this movement and to separate from it now, could be life and death of us….REAL TALK. We have taken on the risk of being targets of every system that historically has invested in the disenfranchisement of black bodies; that investment equals a dollar amount and they get paid heftily to keep Black bodies marginalized and vulnerable. We have taken on the risk of being targets to individuals who subscribe to white supremacy ideologies. We have taken on the risk of our bodies with stress and trauma, in an effort to shield others from going through additional stress and trauma, when STATE SANCTIONED VIOLENCE hits their lives like a ton of bricks. We have literally taken on the government and all of its agencies to LIBERATE not just Black people but even your white scary ass, who forgets how serious this fight is for HUMANITY.
Evelyn From the Internet (a YouTube Channel) in her latest installment, “How to Be An Ally” says…..an ally is a person from one social identity group, who stands up in support of another social identity group. Usually, the ally is a member of a dominant group and they are supporting a group or individual who has been discriminated against or treated unjustly.
You cannot occasionally show up. You cannot be silent in this movement because that is complicity. You have to speak up in uncomfortable moments, and not just report back. There are enough news reporters to report on community news, that’s not the job of an ally. You have to apologize for times when your silence has offended others. Remember, it is a verb, thus requiring action. Someone has to deem you an ally; you cannot deem yourself an ally. And I would add, we as Black people should have a vetting system on who becomes an ally or not (historically Black folks have been vetted and dissected before allowed into white spaces). We don’t need random bodies to just show up one time without knowledge of this fight and potentially step out of the lane and position of an ally. An ally makes room for the group they are standing up for to LEAD…..go figure, what a concept. And finally, allies understand the history of RACISM and are intentional on breaking the cycle of historical abuse. IT IS YOUR JOB TO CALL SHIT OUT!!!
Like when your homophobic dad or racist grandma is running off at the mouth with slurs and feed into stereotypes. Like when YOU, YOU, YEAH YOU want to interrupt Black people speaking on hurtful experiences to center what you know about racism because your family is racist…..NO, that’s not ally-ship and that’s not OK. Like, when you only consider me and other Blacks as acquaintances and not really your friend, you need to check your ally-meter because that’s not going to work either. And if a Black person thinks you are so cool and tells you, "you aren't white, you are Black" remind them of your white privilege and that you know that you would never really trade places with a Black person because you know it is dangerous to be Black....and be humble AF for the compliment.
An ally’s voice can be an avenue for change, it offers assistance in uncomfortable conversations, it is the springboard for thought, and/or it is a confirmation that you have internalized what we have been saying about the pain and trauma associated with RACISM in your presence.....we want to know that you are listening and internalizing this shit. Allies are instrumental in the heavy lifting by sharing articles, retweeting something or (yep, I have to say it) CHECKING THE FUCK OUT OF A CLUELESS, WELL INTENTIONED (and sometimes RACIST) WHITE PERSON WHO IS HARMING OTHERS AND YOUR CREDIBILITY AS AN ALLY. And yes, your ally card can be revoked if you mess up….sorry, not sorry.
See, we Black folks recognize that there are times we need allies, but we need you to SHUT UP a lot, listen more and be trusted....if we cannot TRUST you, it will end badly and you will be outted. Oh yeah, and give credit where credit is due….if a Black person did something that a white person is getting credit for, especially benefiting by way of profit, let that TRUTH be told…..loud and boldly. And at the end of the day, being an ally is a win-win for you because it helps you be a better friend, co-worker, boss, neighbor, parent, and partner; that’s if you're really committed to protecting people you care about and love. You don't get a pass for merely being the parent or spouse of a black person; you too have to know how to maneuver your power for the benefit of us all.
Here in Sacramento, BLM as a chapter has been surrounded by white folks.....and can I say, they are down AF and more woke than some Black people I know. We have even been criticized by Black outsiders looking in because some refuse to align the concept of BLM membership with white folks being included in that equation. Well, Sacramento isn’t Oakland or Chicago or Atlanta or other cities where the Black community is in close proximity to each other. We are spread out and spread thin, with the task of covering a huge county…..thus the need for allies, white and other is a great necessity and extremely important. THIS IS HOW WE AFFECT CHANGE TOGETHER.....ALLIES.
This fight has been stratified and ongoing for people in our community, against institutional racism, media anti-blackness, and even educational inequities. We have even challenged every government agency from local to feds. One FACT that is for sure is this fight requires allies to move the moral pendulum in white spaces that have historically marginalized black bodies. They are especially integral on the occasion when white men (in particular) troll and posture in black spaces filled with black women, as if their opinion matters or will change things.....white men can be bullies sometimes (but that's patriarchy, no wonder). Like showing up at actions to negatively move the crowd, white allies can and have been instrumental in shutting down that kind of white privilege. They have been instrumental in educating other white folks because sometimes white folks only listen to white folks. Real white allies will risk arrest and their jobs because they understand their white privilege is POWER; without the perpetual and unwanted whitesplaining that tries to drown out the movement for black lives.
This fight is personal for a lot of reasons to a lot of people, especially Black folks who live, breath and walk in the shadows of missed opportunities based on the fear white folks have of losing control of Black bodies. At a town hall event last year, a black woman said to a mostly white crowd…..“Black folks didn’t create racism, so it’s not our job to fix it." I say it's the job of every white person who claims to be an ally to look other white folks in the eye when they carry tightly the baggage of white supremacy as if it were the most valuable thing they owned. Let's take that sentiment a step further, it is also the job of an ally to deconstruct the emotional stronghold and conditioning of white supremacy by protecting the black experience that has been literally ERASED from everything. Sometimes that looks like calling shit out at the moment, other times it looks like advocating for a person of color to be included in conversations, have seats at the table, to be put in positions of power and echo the voice of black experiences.
There is a serious problem in this country, where we as a society have been so conditioned to believe, we don’t have the ability or resources to change things; although a lot of us believe that there is a huge glaring problem with respects to oppressive practices. The conditioning has caused us all to respond in one of three ways - 1. Completely ignoring it, 2. Laughing it off because you didn’t know how to respond (and know that is the same as ignoring it), or 3. Deny matter of factly that oppression and racism exist anymore because we have come so far from slavery.
In spite of the conditioning, there are things we can do to stop the targeting of black bodies…..
- Be an open vessel willing to LISTEN, hard conversations can be ignored no longer
- Research - do your homework and don’t rely on Black emotional labor to educate you
- Trust the experiences of Black People, no one wants to live in pain
- Money and the concept of Reparations need to be on the forefront of your mind everyday….what can you do to pay back the debt of white supremacy because you have benefited from the enslavement of black bodies?
- Let Black people Lead or anyone who is the most marginalized among you
- Call out racism and white privilege by family and friends, EVERY TIME it happens in your presence
- Show up in spaces to protect Black people
- Understand keywords and concepts, like but not limited to…..liberation, abolition, equity, justice, reparations, gentrification and redlining, white supremacy, white fragility, whitesplaining, white tears, white flight, implicit bias, racism and power
Tanya Faison, BLM Sacramento chapter founder, wrote a BLOG that you should probably read and check your toxicity at the door.
The number of fights we've taken on for Black lives is way too high. Black folks have either been snatched away or severely abused and what is left behind is more brokenness. Together we have to gingerly hold these families, and shield them as much as possible from further trauma. They like the members in this chapter or folks in this movement are not here for entertainment purposes. These are not feel good moments for you to tell your other white friends about, with "ohhh and ahhh" reactions. This space is sacred and you need to feel like you won the lottery if you have been invited in to partake in moving the moral compass of “too much for too long hypocrisy,” created from colonialism, slavery, and capitalism. The time is now for EQUITY, not equality; LIBERATION, not freedom; and REPARATIONS, not handouts.
If you cannot call the names of those stolen in this town at the hands of STATE SANCTIONED VIOLENCE maybe you should reconsider this work. Maybe you should re-think when you tell a Black person, “to be safe” or ask a Black person, “what can I do?” Especially when they know you know…..you need to SHOW THE FUCK UP because your presence keeps us safe. We don’t need you to lie to kick it.
#InMemoryOfTheAbuseOnBlackBodies who have been MURDERED, abused and wrongfully imprisoned.....
Adriene Ludd, October 2015 - Dazion Flenaugh, April 2016 - Trish Hill, April 2016 - Joesph Mann, July 2016 - Jason King, October 2016 - Igzabihair Yamakosi, December 2016 - Armani Lee, February 2017 - Lorenzo Cruz, February 2017 - Desmond Phillips, March 2017 - Nandi Cain, April 2017 - Ryan Ellis, May 2017 - Mikel McIntyre, May 2017 - Zityrus Abraham, August 2017 - James Nelson, September 2017 - Stephon Clark, March 2018 - Brandon Smith, June 2018.
This mayhem has been done multiple times by the Sacramento Police, multiple times by the Sacramento Sheriffs, CHP, Elk Grove Police, Rocklin Police, Chico Police, Citrus Heights Police, Sac County Probation and Volunteers of America. We have exposed racism in school districts, media outlets, police militarization efforts, and additional training that were NOT completed per requirements. We have helped to craft laws at the local and state level. We have brought love, healing, and joy to Black people and communities. We have shut shit down in this town and that has brought credibility to the purpose and call of Black Lives Matter. So if any ally shows up, is about this work, and truly "wanna be down" they can NEVER, EVER, EVER jeopardize the integrity we have worked so hard to build. You ask, "what else can we do?" KEEP SHOWING UP!!!
July 24th - Sac PD is GESTAPO and City Government Enables It - City Hall at 4:30pm
July 27th - Fill the Courtroom for Armani Lee - Superior Court of California at 8:30am
August 6th - Meet Us at the Capitol - California State Capitol at 10am
August 10th - Black Summer - Open Mic with BLM Sacramento - Old Soul at 7pm
October 21st - Black Love Block Party - McClatchy Park at 12 noon
"It is our duty to fight for our freedom, it is our duty to win.
We must love and support one another.
We have nothing to lose but our chains."
- Assata Shakur