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Learning How to be a Better Ally

Disclaimers:

1. I am not an expert on any of the matters I am writing about below. I am in the process of learning, listening, unpacking my bias and my privilege. This is about my thoughts, feelings, and what I am learning.

2. My privilege as a cis-hetero WHITE middle-class lady is not lost on me. I fully understand that I will never know what it is like to be black or another POC. I wouldn't dare critique, or really, try to even understand that experience and all the feelings that come with it.

3. I'm not writing this to be showy, or performative in my ally-ship. Writing helps me process what I am feeling. I do not expect a pat on the back or a reward for any of the work I have done and am doing.

4. This might take the form of a stream of consciousness or a free form poem. I don't really know. I just need to get some words out.



Black Lives Matter.

I used to think I was a good ally to all marginalized and oppressed groups.

LGBTQIA-POC-Women. Diversity and equity matter to me.

Before the BLM movement gained it's current momentum, I always expressed outrage at the injustices the black community face, the seemingly endless murders at the hands of police, etc.

Outrage is not enough. I  know that now.

I've got to do the work to be fully anti-racist. This is work I must prioritize, and not just in the wake of a senseless murder or because it seems America is finally waking up to what's been happening here since 1619.

I fully support the protesters. The movement. I'm not someone who is built for the front lines. But what I can and have been doing, is using my wallet. I'm in a space of privilege which allows me the ability to donate money to causes that are important to me. Before recent events, I focused my charity dollars on organizations supporting women or LGBQTIA folx.

Planned Parenthood.

Equality Maine

Human Rights Counsel

ACLU

Now, I've got to add to the list. I've donated to bail funds, including Minnesota Freedom Fund, Brooklyn Bail Fund. I've donated to BLM, the Equal Justice Initiative and though the purchase of a t-shirt, contributed to The Loveland Foundation, Sister Song, and Higher Heights for America.

I have payroll deduction donations monthly to Planned Parenthood. My goal in addition, is to donate at least once a month to other organizations, and I plan to make sure to include organizations that support BIPOCs.

The work.

Over the last 10 days, I've watched: When They See Us, Just Mercy, American Son, Time; The Kalief Browder Story,  13th (a re-watch; I saw it not long after it was originally released). Needless to say, I've spent a lot of time crying.

It's uncomfortable. I've been learning to sit with that discomfort, remembering that BIPOC folks feel discomfort every day just because of the color of their skin.

Podcasts. 1619. Episodes of my regular favorites focusing on social justice issues.

I'm learning.

I'm unpacking my bias, my discomfort. I've attended webinars for work about implicit bias, social justice in education etc. I'm following BIPOC Instagram pages and hashtags.

I'm learning.

It's all heartbreaking.

I knew this was happening, but in my privilege, I did not focus on it. I had the ability to ignore. I don't want to do that anymore.

An eye-opening moment; realizing my birthday, June 19th, is also Juneteenth, the commemoration of the day in 1865 that marked the "end*" of slavery in the United States (*watch 13th and then try to tell me that slavery is over in the US. I'll wait). I have guilt about ignoring this for years, but due to the whitewashing of US History lessons, I don't really recall learning about it formally.

I want to do better. To be a better ally.

Some more things to watch and read and listen to:


White Fragility-Book
Code Switch-Podcast
Malcom X-Film
Becoming (book and movie)
12 Years a Slave- Film
Malcom X-Film
Hidden Figures-Film
If Beale St. Could Talk-Film
When They Call You A Terrorist; A Black Lives Matter Memoir- Book
Heavy- Book
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings- Fiction Book
Beloved- Fiction Book

There is work to do. I'm doing what I can. I hope you do too.

Black Lives Matter.

I see you.

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