CITY LIFE tedtalks_chrisanderson

Published on September 19th, 2014 | by Jacob Flizenblurgher

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How to be an A+, #1, super special, good white ally in four easy steps

It’s hard to be a white guy who cares about racial justice. It’s a pretty heavy burden for me to bear. Being a white ally in the struggle for racial justice isn’t easy, but if I can do it, you may be able to do it too.

If you aren’t yelling, you are doing it wrong

A good white ally educates both himself and other white people about white supremacy and privilege. It gets said again and again: “White people need to educate and organize themselves! Stop asking POCs to teach you about racism!”

That is just so true. So get out there and start educating and organizing!

The best way to organize and educate your fellow white citizens, IMO, is to yell at them indiscriminately. If there is anything the two-party political system has taught us, it is that talking really loudly is an extremely effective form of discourse. Make sure to add insults. Nothing is ever accomplished without a good insult. It’s a cliche for a reason!

If you want to be a good white ally, you are going to need to tap into some kind of anger that can drive you. Feel the rage of oppression (that you don’t experience). And direct that rage at other white people. They don’t understand the problem? Yell at them! They aren’t as enlightened as you are? Yell more! They have questions? Names! Call them names!

We all know that white privilege and the multi-century history of deeply rooted racism is a really easy thing to confront, overcome, and move beyond nearly immediately and that internalized societal and cultural norms can be easily exorcised by repeating a slogan (I personally got rid of my white privilege via a neat “Fuck Racism” button!). So if other white people don’t get it, well, that’s on them. I mean, you yelled, didn’t you? (Try yelling again!)

The key to mind changing yelling is to make sure you do it indiscriminately. Yell at people who disagree with you. Yell at people who want to understand. Yell at people who have questions. Yell at people who want to help. Make sure you make it very clear: White people (who aren’t you) are racists and need to change!

Know you are special

Sometimes I get really frustrated that other white people just don’t seem to get it like I do, even when I have yelled really loudly. It can be hard to be so enlightened. If you start to feel a bit blue about it all, don’t doubt your tactics. Instead, take comfort in the fact that you are actually very special. White allies deserve a lot of gold stars for how special they are. Make sure to remember that when you are feeling down. Gold stars are neat, because not everyone gets one!

If open dialogue, space for processing, patience, or meaningful engagement actually worked, more people would do it. You will never get anywhere by meeting someone else where they are at. Sure, browbeating is hard work, but it is the least you can do for the cause.

When you start to doubt, just look at your little gold star. Hear it whisper: “You are very special. You are not like those other white people. You are not a part of the problem!” Take comfort in that specialness. Afterall, if other white people were allies, it would mean less gold stars for you.

Make it all about you: every black led movement needs a white face

A good white ally takes direction from the people most impacted. Youaren’t the leader! If everyone associates you as the leader, well, that’s not your fault! You are just taking direction from POCs.

We have already covered that you are pretty special. People will automatically want to assume you are the leader of a movement, group, or campaign. If they point out that you seem like the leader because you are the most visible, always the one yelling, and your name seems to be on everything, do not inspect that this may be a way that your privilege is playing out. Yell at them and call them racist instead. They might just decide to become a white ally yet!

Obviously, other white people will assume you are the leader of the group because of their own white privilege and racist assumptions. It definitely has nothing to do with your behavior. If you aren’t sure, just look at your gold star again. Don’t get distracted by trying to sort out whether part of the problem is the bias of other people and part of the problem is your own behavior.

It’s not that complicated.

Nothing about race or allyship is complicated.

Embrace the burden: it’s a hard job but someone needs to tell people of color that they aren’t really people of color

It’s really awkward being a white ally sometimes. Like, really awkward. You have to do all the yelling. You have to carry the burden of your specialness. You have to do lots and lots of commenting online. And sometimes, you have to be the one to tell a person of color that they aren’t really a person of color, or that they aren’t the right kind of POC.

Personally, I’ve had to do it myself a number of times. Once, a young black woman came to a protest I organized and she disagreed with us. Well, let me tell you. It was HARD. I tried yelling at her to get her to understand. It didn’t work. Some people just don’t want to be educated about the struggle, I guess. Anyway, I was forced to conclude that she wasn’t really a POC. Sure, did it look bad to have a white guy yelling at a young woman of color at a purportedly anti-racist event? Yes. But it had to be done.

Everyone knows that racial groups are homogenous. It’s why all of us white people agree on all civic, political, and human rights issues. It is the same for the POC community. If the group of POCs you know and work with hold a certain viewpoint, it represents the viewpoint of all people of color.

If you are going to be a good ally, it is your job to shepherd people of color who have strayed away from the agreed-upon stance (I think it gets voted on at a national conference) back into the fold. As a white person, you should do the heavy lifting and make sure to educate POCs who don’t agree with you about their experience with racism. If they continue to disagree, it’s your job to demand they turn over their official Person of Color card to you (also distributed at the national conference).

The good news is if you collect ten POC cards, you become an honorary member!

Be a dick to ladies: intersectionality is for pussies

Sometimes, some mouthy bitch will interrupt your yelling — rude much, amirite? — and say something like, “Hey, you are being a misogynist.”

Bitch, please.

You are here to fight racism. Never forget that. If some vagina tries to distract you by pointing out “intersectionality,”  talking about how race, gender, sexual orientation, and class relate and connect, and claims that it is fucked up that you, a good hearted white man who is sacrificing so much for the struggle, are failing to recognize not only your white privilege, but also your privilege as a straight cis man, you should tell her she is crazy.

Being a A+, #1, super special, good white ally is going to take a lot of work and sacrifice on your part. Remember that your feelings are an important part of the process, so don’t hesitate to talk about how hard it is for you to do this work. Expect to be ridiculed and criticized. Embrace it. It just means that there is more yelling to be done.

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About the Author

was raised in Tacoma's beautiful Northend neighborhood. He enjoys long walks on the beach, making beans and rice, and perfecting the art of flugelhorn-playing. He is well-known for his vintage hamster wheel collection and is a proud winner of the 2009 Hamster Derby medal.



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