- Listen to what we share. Allow us to work through our range of emotions, free from judgement.
- Afford communities of color the right to speak or not to speak on the issues at hand.
- Acknowledge that although you may feel deeply outraged by police violence (as you should), white allies are not having the same lived experiences as people of color.
- Share openly how you are impacted by police violence against black and brown bodies. We very much appreciate and need for you to speak out, but also yield/share the floor to/with those most directly impacted.
- Use your positionality as white people to speak truth to power and to challenge your spheres of influence.
- Be allies in public as well as behind closed doors. We need to know that you show up for us.
- If you have posted problematic comments against people of color or blatantly turned your back on us in the past, now is not the time to become an ally in the midst of our most vulnerable moments. Give us space to allow trust to build, or not.
- Do the difficult work to understand the systemic nature of racism and how you have benefited from that system. Not understanding this is a form of social violence.
- Work through white guilt within white spaces. I am hurting, and I need space to focus on my own pain.
- Having difficult dialogues across differences is not easy, but necessary. While doing your work, also be open to constructive feedback. As James Baldwin said, “If I love you, I must make you conscious of the things you do not see.”
After having multiple conversations this week with white friends regarding the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the experience of Christian Cooper, I felt I needed to pen this blog post. My goal is not to provide an exhaustive list, there are many more points that could be shared. However, these suggestions come directly from conversations that I have had with white friends this week. Some were well equipped in allyship, others were not.
Krishauna Hines-Gaither, Ph.D.
Recorded Workshop: White Allies regarding Police Brutality and Beyond
Dr. Krishauna Hines-Gaither will share tips and insights on sustaining relationships and offering support across differences. She will share tips that are applicable in many situations including the current events related to police brutality. She will focus on white allyship regarding police violence against predominantly black and brown bodies. Communities of color will also benefit from this workshop, and gain additional tools to navigate cross-racial engagement.
7 thoughts on “10 Tips for White Allies Regarding Police Brutality: From the Heart of a Black Woman…”
Dr. Hines-Gauthier – I am a white ally. Can you please elaborate on #8 above, or direct me to more detail? I confess to being ignorant about how I could have benefitted from the systemic system of racism. (I can only hope I have not!)
Greetings Peggy, I thank you for your taking the time to read my blog, and I appreciate your question. I will respond no later than tomorrow. Sending good thoughts your way.
Good morning, Peggy,
Thank you for your patience. Given the recent events, this has proven to be a very busy time. I would like to elaborate on number 8. You inquired about the following: “Do the difficult work to understand the systemic nature of racism and how you have benefited from that system. Not understanding this is a form of social violence.” Since you mentioned that you are an ally, I assume that you have awareness of the disadvantaged, marginalized experiences of people of color in the United States (if that is your location). There cannot exist a system of disadvantage for some, without a comparable system of advantage for others. For example, according to the U.S. Justice Department’s investigation of Ferguson, MO Police Department (see pg.62), African Americans accounted for 85% of police stops (although they only make up 67% of the population) and 90% of all citations went to African Americans. African American drivers were 2X as likely to be searched than white drivers, although White drivers yielded more contraband when searched. African Americans received 4-5 citations in a single stop 73 times, while White drivers received 4-5 citations only twice during a single stop. These racialized injustices can only be possible if African American counterparts (White people and others) are advantaged. While African Americans are stopped disproportionately, a White driver has the privilege of not being stopped nearly as frequently. This is an example of how a White person benefits from a system of injustice. Although Whites are found with drugs more often when stopped, they are stopped far less frequently than African Americans. So while African Americans are dealing with the anxiety of being stopped by police, the fines accrued and overall injustice, Whites are disproportionately shielded from these disadvantages. Every day that a White person gets to drive in Ferguson, they benefit by less police surveillance because the gaze of the police is largely focused on African Americans. Without a recognition and admission of this White privilege, it would be impossible for a White person to ally effectively with African Americans regarding justice reform.
To use a non-police example, I was recently coaching an African American friend who feels that many of the promotions on his job are based on social factors such as who plays golf with whom, who goes for after work drinks together, etc. As one of few African Americans on the team, he is rarely invited into these social settings with White colleagues. This practice unduly impacts him both professionally and ultimately financially. Each time that a White colleague is promoted based on these relationships, they benefit from their African American colleague’s disadvantage. White people strategically seek out some of these benefits; while others are bestowed upon them unrequested. Whatever the case, White people in the United States live in a society that has advantaged them since our earliest founding (read the case of John Punch). This system of advantage and disadvantage is so entrenched that it is difficult to eradicate, but allies must be aware of it.
When a White ally does not recognize how they are advantaged at the expense of people of color, it is difficult for them to have a full understanding of how to properly ally with people of color. One must understand the larger dynamics of how systems advantage them while disadvantaging others. People of color can only be disadvantaged based on their White counterparts’ unearned advantages. Understanding these points are key to serving as an effective ally. For further reading, I strongly recommend this article by Peggy McIntosh titled White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack and this article by Robin DiAngelo titled White Fragility, as well as DiAngelo’s book White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism.
I hope that this is helpful.
Striving to build inclusive communities,
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