By: Shalana Gray
We hear it time and time again… All lives matter. Why are you making this about race? If you protested peacefully, more people would listen to you. You are the ones causing a racial divide. White people get killed by police and experience discrimination, too. Segregation ended with the Civil Rights Act. Racism doesn’t exist anymore.
White friends- Please, just stop. Stop saying these things. Stop speaking on things you don’t understand. Stop trying to control the narrative of things that you have never experienced firsthand.
When a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) person tells you that racism has affected their lives, just listen. The phrases above serve to invalidate their experiences, silence them through racial gaslighting, deflect conversations about race, and uphold centuries of systemic racism that benefit white people whether you realize it or not. And to be clear: as a white cisgender woman, I will never fully understand the lived experiences of BIPOC folx. But that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t believe them.
I digress. If you are on the Inclusive Journeys website and are reading this blog, I assume that you are already working to learn more and be a better ally. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue the conversation.
Let’s talk about allyship.
When yet another series of Black Americans were murdered at the hands of police and vigilantes, did you ask: “How can I help?” When hundreds of years of racism in the United States once again came to the forefront of our conversations and flooded our social media feeds, did you reach out to a Black friend to ask where to donate or how to take action?
These sentiments are great, but let’s talk a little bit more about it. Many Black folx are tired, overtaxed, and traumatized. It is not their job to teach you or to shoulder all of the emotional labor. It is not their job to do the research for you. I’ll be the first to say it- I am guilty of this. After Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down in the street while out for an afternoon jog, I texted a Black friend to ask which organizations were the best to donate to. I wanted someone to tell me what to do instead of figuring it out myself. She graciously responded, but I realize now that my good intentions did not supersede the labor I asked her to perform.
But that’s part of being an ally. It’s not a title, but a process. You might make mistakes along the way. You might even be called out for it. Your good intentions might have a negative impact. In the end, an ally should always embrace those opportunities for learning and growth.
(P.S... Check out these resources on moving from an ally to an accomplice.)
The Digital Green Book Project is for allies, too.
Which brings me here… Everything written thus far exemplifies why the Digital Green Book Project is so important. Despite the harmful rhetoric that racism is a thing of the past, both overt and more insidious forms of racism continue to permeate our society. And even as a white woman who rarely faces discrimintation in public places, I will utilize this website.
When an ally asks where they should spend their money, the answers will be right here. Better yet, the answers will be provided voluntarily by users and the website developer will have been compensated for their work. When I want to support businesses owned by people of marginalized identities or businesses that are inclusive of diverse communities, all I need to do is hop on to this website. For lack of a better cliche, I want to put my money where my mouth is. The dollar is a powerful tool, and I want my dollar to reflect my own morals and beliefs (Even though inclusivity should be standard and not just a “belief,” but anyway...). We boycott places that contribute to discrimination and marginalization, so why not support places that are being inclusive? Better yet, by utilizing this website I can be part of a project that is helping businesses reflect and improve… Just like my own journey through allyship.
When a friend tells me that they didn’t feel welcome in a certain place, I believe them. When I am traveling with friends or planning a day out together, I don’t ever want to risk their comfort or safety. If a person is visiting my own community, I want there to be resources to help them have the best experience imaginable. The Digital Green Book is a platform for people to voice their concerns and for others to hear them, and I will use this website to extend a listening ear to those who are often invalidated or silenced.
Allies- This website is for us, too. The next time you find yourself asking, “How can I help?”, stick the Digital Green Book in your pocket as one of the many tools you can use to fight for inclusivity.