As someone that spends their life trying to improve the landscape of our humanity, I am always delighted when someone approaches me and tells me that they are an ally. If we desire for this world to be a better place, we will get there much faster if we realize that we can accomplish much more working together than apart. In fact, I am always baffled by people that exist in horrendous conditions that cannot see that it is not us that should be fighting one another, but in fact, our fight should be with the few that seek to keep their power and position by dividing the many.
After the election of Donald Trump, many White people stepped into the arena with Black activists ready to fight, and we welcome them. However, please know, resisting is nothing new for Black people. While you may have had the luxury of enjoying your cucumber sandwiches, afternoon rosé , and hot yoga classes never once bothered by the injustice all around you until November 2016, this is something that many of us live and breathe daily.
So it is beyond irritating to see a White person that claims to be an ally come online and tell a Black person they may be isolating potential allies when we speak our truth.
When I saw this happen to April Reign, I knew I would have to address this issue because the same thing has happened to me numerous times regarding my blog as if I am sitting at home before I type thinking, “Let me water down the truth so that I do not upset a White person.” Trust me, that thought never enters my mind. I am not concerned with your feelings being hurt. I am concerned with the truth. If the truth offends you, I suggest you get thicker skin or bypass my writing. I will never change my message to win over White people. That will not happen today, tomorrow or ever. The truth is simply the truth.
After I made my comments on Twitter, I realized that I was incorrect in my statement. I said she doesn’t get the luxury of dangling being an ally in the face of Black people like it’s a carrot, but in fact, she does have that luxury. As a White person, she gets the luxury of deciding if she is going to fight for justice. White people get the luxury of weekend protesting as a hobby because protesting is the “in” thing to do. White people get the luxury of reposting tweets and hashtags without doing any of the groundwork. White people get the luxury of serving on panels about diversity and inclusivity, teaching racial bias training, writing the commentaries and being the face and voice of movements they never created or laid the groundwork for. White people get the luxury of going on TV regurgitating talking points Black people have already made on social media for years, yet when they say it, it’s celebrated as outstanding wisdom. White people get to decide, “I’ve had enough of this, and I’m tired. I don’t want to do this today.” White people get to say, “My feelings were hurt over a tweet, so I am done fighting for justice. I will just go back to my life of convenience.”
That is the difference between us. Black people do not have that luxury. We don’t have the convenience of quitting because someone tweeted something that made us uncomfortable. Our very breath is connected to us fighting. And you have the unmitigated gall to believe, that before we tweet, we are thinking about not offending White people because they may decide not to be an ally. Newsflash, if your loyalty of standing with Black people can bend like a blade of grass in the wind due to a tweet or blog that discusses the TRUTH, you were never standing with us to begin with.
Many allies became allies on November 9, 2016, when they woke up Wednesday morning and realized, “Oh Trump meant me too.” Then suddenly you realized it was time to fight. But before you get to that part, you need to pause, look in the mirror and be honest with yourself about how we got here. Let me be clear, if you call yourself an ally, you don’t get to skip over history and the truth to the ally part. You don’t get to treat justice like a buffet, casually putting what you want to eat on your plate and bypassing what doesn’t look or taste good to you. Like, “Oh I will just get some of the catchy slogans on posters for Instagram pics and one of those pink hats and just hold the Jim Crow and police brutality information.” That is not how it works. You need to face some difficult and potentially painful truths, and if you are not ready to do that, you are not prepared to be an ally. Because you are not anchored in anything, but your emotions and emotions waver.
Scrolling through my Twitter feed today I encountered this tweet that has been reposted numerous times.
While I understand what they are trying to say, they have tried and failed. This is racial justice Twitter theatrics. As a Black woman do you think I feel good because a White, privileged, straight, woman is tweeting, she is Black? Do you think that does something for anyone in these groups? And then the post says, UNTIL this Thing meaning Trump is out of office, they are “these people.” So what happens after that? What happens after being part of the resistance isn’t cool? What happens when you are asked to sacrifice? What happens when your friends don’t want to invite you to dinner anymore because of your stance on race? What happens when you read a tweet that challenges you and your feelings are hurt? Then what?
Emotion alone cannot drive allyship. When you are fighting for justice, your feelings will waver. There will be good days, bad days, and days that you feel like throwing in the towel. I can guarantee you that you are going to read something about White people that offends you. If you don’t believe me, keep reading through this blog. If you are not anchored in something more profound than your feelings you will threaten to quit. You will treat being an ally like you are dangling a carrot in front of the faces of Black people and if someone posts something you do not like, you can just take your allyship away. If you being an ally is rooted in always feeling good, by all means, do not call yourself an ally of mine. If being an ally is rooted in always reading things that make you want to cuddle up with a cup of hot chocolate, this might not be the role for you. If being an ally means coming on Twitter and telling a Black woman that she might not want to speak her truth because that can isolate potential allies, please do not consider yourself an ally.
In the fight for justice, we do not need fairweather allies, allies that are only loyal on the sunny days. Our struggle is rooted in our very survival. This fight is more significant than a tweet or a blog post or your hurt feelings.
Please do not act like you are doing Black people a favor by standing on the side of righteousness. We are glad that you are here but you are not doing us a favor by doing the RIGHT thing. You should be satisfied doing the RIGHT THING because you SHOULD do the right thing. Be satisfied that you are working to make this world a better place not just for Black people but ALL people and that in itself, should be enough! And if that means you have to be a little uncomfortable for the sake of humanity then so be it! Believe me, Black people have uncomfortable for a very long time.