I am an imperfect ally.
I am going to have blind spots because of my life experience and lack of knowledge. I will not place the burden of education on anyone else but myself, but I do ask that if I have a blind spot – that it’s pointed out to me with love. My blind spots have been shown to me before without judgment of my character and I am thankful to those teachers in my life.
Yesterday, the groupe that my agency sits within hosted a Brave Round Table lead by a brilliant woman who is the Chief Diversity Officer and six other diversity leaders who all happened to be Black or African-American. Two thousand and one hundred participants joined the roundtable to hear from and be a part of a safe space. During this Zoom call, those in the African-American or Black community found solace and those who are not a part of those communities learned how to be better allies.
Over the course of an hour, powerful words were shared and tears were shed, and a message that I appreciated in the conversation on top of the awareness that of course, I have more work to do – is that it’s ok to be an imperfect ally. Most of us white, passing, or people of various privileged backgrounds are not bad people, but not knowing what to do or the fear of doing/saying something wrong prevents us from speaking out or even reaching out.
In the conversation I also loved that cancel culture was called out as being unproductive, and the request to recognize that ally-ship is a spectrum and people will be at various places of their journey – so meet them where they are and be patient.
Even posting this post, I am afraid I’m doing something wrong. I am afraid that I’m virtue signaling or that others will think I’m virtue signaling. I’m afraid that I’m going to unwittingly have hurt or caused pain to someone by saying Black and African American, instead of using People of Color; but in my heart I know what I’m trying to do is acknowledge that there are many different labels that people identify with and they are all valid.
However, I was inspired by a quote an Instagram friend shared out earlier this week and that quote made me want to highlight and share out the powerful art that has come out of the current news cycle. A week fraught with headlines of racial inequality; the woman who weaponized her white privilege against Christian Cooper, the police brutality and murder of George Floyd, the excessive use of power, force, and then shooting of Breonna Taylor. The narrative of these stories is the same, we’ve heard it time and time again, this week we just have new faces and new names to focus the heartache and pain around.
To be an imperfect ally means I will continue to be brave enough to speak up and work towards becoming a better human and better advocate for the voices that are marginalized. Being an imperfect ally isn’t an excuse or blanket to shield me from doing the work, but it’s a label that empowers me to make mistakes, grow, and do better. I will donate to causes who are led by people smarter than me and more capable than I am to make the changes on a macro level. I will do my best on the micro-level and influence what I can where I can. I will be open and welcome the recognition and identification of my blind spots.
Here is a list of the resources that were shared in the Brave Round Table that I was a part of and I welcome you, at whatever part of the journey of ally-ship you are in, to explore these resources too.
IG Account to follow: