Art by Samantha Miller
On June 2, black squares flooded many people’s Instagram feeds.
These squares were part of the Blackout Tuesday movement.
Beyond just a post, the black square signified one’s solidarity and allyship with the Black community after the killing of innocent George Floyd on May 25.
Seven months after Blackout Tuesday, the Black Lives Matter Movement is no longer trending on social media. Despite this, many people around the world aspire to stand with the Black community against racism.
When people are no longer being reminded of the importance and value of Black lives through social media posts and daily news, what are ways to consciously continue in allyship and being anti-racist?
To answer this question, it is important to understand what allyship is — the lifelong process of walking alongside marginalized individuals or groups and a commitment to empathizing, learning and supporting them.
This highlights allyship as being continuous throughout one’s life, meaning one never stops learning about how to better acknowledge and fight against injustices.
One of the most important aspects of allyship is humility. Humility is a reminder that it is OK to not get everything right and admit there is always something new to deepen your understanding of racial dynamics.
By embarking on this journey, people challenge themselves to deconstruct narratives fed to them subconsciously since childhood.
One can see this narrative when 65% of Black Americans have experienced people acting suspicious of them, according to Pew Research Center. Throughout media forms, the racialization of crime reports subconsciously pushes this idea of Black people having criminal intent, beginning at a very young age.
Alongside humility, part of allyship and being anti-racist is calling out derogatory remarks toward the Black diaspora.
When you hear a family member or friend make a racist comment, question their intentions behind what they said. Where did they learn this from, and what are ways to challenge the narrative they believe?
While addressing these comments may not change a person’s heart, it could impact their thoughts moving forward — and there is research to prove it.
Sometimes, these comments are made in ignorance rather than blatant disrespect and the person simply needs education. Anti-Blackness perpetuates American history, which intrinsically disenfranchised Black people. It takes effort and dedication to train one’s mind to no longer subscribe to those beliefs.
Additionally, amplifying Black voices is a significant way allies can foster equality within American society. Representation of Black voices is important in all areas, but specifically in media.
Despite this, even in 2021, it is sorely lacking. By advocating for the inclusion of marginalized voices, it ensures the acknowledgement of the Black experience.
To do this, one can support Black artists through buying their media and literature. With this support, it signifies to companies the importance of diverse perspectives to increase people’s understanding and awareness of societal issues.
An example of Black media to support is the 2013 film Fruitvale Station, written and directed by Black filmmaker Ryan Coogler. A more recent example is 2020 film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which features Black writers and directors. This Oprah Magazine article lists 52 others that one can support.
If companies recognize people’s desire to hear more Black voices, it will bolster efforts to recruit these perspectives into their organizations.
Another important part of allyship is continuing to spread awareness about issues affecting the Black community in any way seen fit. For different people, this can take a variety of forms.
Some may frequently post on social media about Black issues, while others may prefer to share with those belonging to their immediate social circle. Other ways could include sharing Black work or donating to organizations with a mission to advance Black people. Some great examples of organizations are the NAACP and The Equal Justice Initiative.
No matter how it’s done, spreading awareness is deeply appreciated and necessary in continuing the work of being anti-racist.
Finally, allyship means celebrating Black history and achievements all year long. While February specifically is dedicated as Black History Month, there are other ways to celebrate it during one’s daily life.
Undoubtedly, the work of allyship and being anti-racist is incredibly challenging. By doing this work, there is a palpable way in which one can change the world by advocating for a more equal and just union.
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