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My Idea of an Ally

My Idea of an Ally

I keep hearing the ally thing being thrown around. People keep asking me, how do I be an ally?
 
Well first off, don’t make ultra cringe #takeresponsibility videos. My life and my experiences are not your responsibility. Let’s start with that.
 
If you want to be an ally, start by treating me the same as you treated me yesterday. Respect me, respect my ideas, respect my experience, realize that we are both human, we both make mistakes, we both are making our way through this maze called life. My experience may be different from yours, but at the end of the day, we both want the same things for ourselves and our families.
 
Although my experience is different don’t assume you know who I am. Don’t assume because I’m black a vote a certain way or feel oppressed. Don’t assume because I’m black I fall in line with what you see on tv or read on social media. Don’t assume I grew up rich, don’t assume I grew up poor.

Don’t assume that I’m consumed with politics or that I love rap music. Don’t assume my heroes are sports stars and entertainers. Don’t assume you know more about my experience than me, don’t assume because you read a book or taking a college course you somehow know what it’s like or what it means to be a black in America. 

Just don’t assume.
 
Practice intellectual curiosity. Listen, don’t assume. Know that my race doesn’t define me, but my race and culture is a significant part of who I am. Know that I love it who I am and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Know that my culture is not something you can experience by watching CNN, snaps, and IG storylines. Know that I’m an individual, not a political pawn. 
 
Know that I don’t need you and you don’t need me, but together we are better. We are both privileged to be in each other’s company. So much to learn, so much to do, so much to say.
 
Our ancestors probably didn’t see it that way, but we aren’t our ancestors, are we? All we can do is affect here and now. Our obligation is to make this world a better place for our children’s children so by becoming an ally, you’re making your children’s children proud. By just being yourself you are making your children’s children proud. By just allowing me to be me you are making your children’s children proud. 
 
Martin Luther King - I Still Have A Dream
If you want to make the world a better place by planting flowers, do that. If you want to make the world a better place by speaking up about climate change. Do that.

If you want to make the world a better place by mentoring a child and helping that child get a job or into college do that. But don’t think that you have to be a prisoner to every single world event that takes over social media. If you want to support a black-owned business, do that. Do what makes you come alive and share that with me, share that with others.
 
And yes because I am a person, I’m just as capable of being racist as your uncle back in your home town or just as capable of being the most understanding and empathic person you will ever meet. I’m just a person.

But you’ll never know who I am if you see me only by one characteristic. See me as a person. Instead of reading nonsensical books such as “White Fragility”, read what you’re genuinely interested in, call me over, and let’s discuss it, lets exchange ideas, laughs and perspectives.

That’s my idea of an ally that’s my idea of a friend, co-worker, and fellow traveler in this thing called life.
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