Dear White Women,
It was asked of BLMGJ what YOU can do to be good allies to women of color, this is how Samantha (a woman of color and coordinator for BLM GJ) responded:
Listen to us, please. Please don't pull a "Mrs. Millie" (Color purple) and get upset, telling us about what you do for us when you feel challenged. Personally, I am tired of seeing that. If all this work was done, black women would not be in the situations they're still in, in this nation today.
Being an ally requires constant emotional readjustment. I'd implore you when you read, hear or see something on this journey that doesn't sit well with you, do not immediately respond. Stop and think, ask yourself what exactly bothers you. Then continue the discussion. It is human nature to assume that the things that make you comfortable are based in truth. That is not always the case.
After election night, I decided to become more aware of transgender issues. And I loudly declared myself an ally, asking my new trans friends to teach me. Their response? "Um, no." And at first I got mad, and I was about to pull my ally-ship. But I'd read this article just a few days before about emotional labor. So I decided to do my own, and I realized that it was wrong of me to ask someone so exhausted from trying to navigate this system, to stop and teach me would I could learn myself.
Read black literature. I'm sure they have some Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison at the local library, albeit kinda hidden. I'd suggest reading articles from publications like The Root and Very Smart Brothas, to start. There's also a page here on FB called Not Without Black Women. Just peruse, and also understand that there is a lot of anger out there right now, and it's justified. It is. I'm sorry, but it is. We're human too. We're more than the labels this society has placed upon us, to cover up all that they've made us carry on our backs.
I will warn you, though. In the wider world outside GJ, the interaction with black women may have a bit more of an edge, given all we've been through. I try to temper my words as much as I can. I have my limits, though. Please take a good while before you jump into dialogue, for your own sake. Just read, and if you find something that just doesn't sit well or compute and you have questions, you can always ask BLMGJ. We may not always be able to give you a satisfactory answer, though. Some things just are, and I've learned as of late that there are people who consider themselves to be progressive, who stop short at issues pertaining to people like me. And that is very sad.
by Jon Williams
I was told before the MLK march that some black folks didn’t want to participate because they thought it was thrown by the city of GJ, so the city of GJ could be considered less racist. I assured him it was thrown by members of the black community and he should attend. . .
I’ve lived in GJ over a decade and I’ve always walked the line of knowing my place and how to be #AliveWhileBlack here. You listen, don’t create any fuss, speak well, don’t have polarizing haircuts or clothes, let people speak for you and fight your battles.
A few months ago, a black friend of mine explained that he recognized that his experiences while being black and living downtown were different, and people tore him apart because it shook the core idea of the city we live in. . .which is that racism doesn’t exist here (as said by the previous mayor)
When I helped start Black Lives Matter, it was to help educate the community on racial hardships. . . With a heavy heart, I have to admit I was wrong about something. You can’t educate a community who is unwilling to listen. . .
I’ve been told by many people that I admire that I speak in a way that isn’t polarizing to non-people of color (by using phrasing like non-people of color versus white people).
I interacted with four black women today and asked them to share their experiences of racism in this town versus what my experiences are. . .and black women in GJ suffer and hurt here. . . Maybe not all of them (cause I haven’t met all of them) but I’ve heard shared experiences from women who don’t know each other. It’s a discussion of racism.
You have to wake up GJ. Listen to these stories, check your privilege and truly listen.
Our black women need us, and it’s up to each of us to hear their stories, protect them, and share what we’ve learned.
I used to think this city tried to hide its racism. . .
It’s not hidden,
It’s just directed at black women
And it’s time we noticed and stopped it.