More

8 real talk tips for non-black people who want to be better allies.

'When we tell you how we feel, don’t just listen to respond. Listen to understand.'

8 real talk tips for non-black people who want to be better allies.

Are you helping more than you’re hurting?

Ally(-ies) / noun (pl.) / A person who associates or cooperates with another; supporter.

A protest against police brutality in Berkeley, California in 2014. Photo by Annette Bernhardt/Flickr.


I’m an activist, and my main platform is Twitter, so I am constantly trying to help people be better to one another in whatever ways I can.

Recently, some of my followers asked me an important question: What makes a “good” ally?

Good intentions? Solidarity? No one truly has the perfect answer, but after a good hour or so, I came up with a basic set of guidelines. Here they are:

1. Don't divert the conversation.

Am I telling you that you’re not allowed to ask about other problems? Are you supposed to care about black people's struggles and only those struggles? Of course not!

What I’m saying is that, when talking about one problem, your answer shouldn’t be to ask about another. You wouldn’t go to breast cancer rallies asking, “What about brain cancer?” so please don’t do it about black lives.

2. Amplify us.

This has always been a problem with the ally-ship of the black community. It seems as though non-black people can never tell the difference between using their status to amplify our voices and speaking for or over us.

Photo via iStock.

I’m gonna be honest: We don’t need you to pretend to know our struggle because we know you don’t. Non-black people will never experience America like black people will, and that is just something you will have to accept. But we do need you to amplify our stories, to give us platforms to speak.

3. Please stop using black pain for attention.

There have been many instances in which non-black people have used our anguish for attention. This is also known as "black pain porn." It’s a tactic news outlets occasionally use when you see the overrepresentation of black people in tragedy, but it pushes the agenda that we are somehow always in turmoil.

4. If you know you have black followers on social media, be cautious of the stuff you share.

Exposure is so important in times like these when we can watch the death of black bodies like home movies anywhere, anytime. This has brought to light so many injustices, but it has also desensitized us.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

But consider how traumatizing it is to see people who look like you being murdered in the street, their bodies left to rot in the sweltering heat, glamorized and projected everywhere you look. Knowing that someone was killed for just looking the way you do and that their killer will likely receive no repercussions does something unexplainable to your psyche. So, when we ask you not to post anymore videos of black bodies dying, please respect that.

5. Join organizations that help us. Black Lives Matter isn’t the only source of support.

Listen, not all of us are big fans of the Black Lives Matter organization, but that’s not an excuse to not participate in our liberation at all. It is also not every black activist’s job to point you in the right direction. The internet is an amazing source of information — look up ways to get involved in your community.

6. When we tell you how we feel, don’t just listen to respond. Listen to understand.

Communication is important when it comes to social justice — but know the time and place for it. A perfect example is when we riot. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Rioting is the language of the unheard.”

A riot is a symptom of extreme systemic problems. So hear us out. Don’t listen to my concerns to disregard them. Don’t listen to me to prove your own point. You may not understand or agree with what I experience, but that doesn’t give you the right to invalidate my feelings. You don’t have to condone our response to injustice to understand it.

Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images.

7. Talk to your family and friends.

If you know your surroundings are anti-black, try to fix that. Defend us when we’re not there to do it ourselves.

You’re no help to me if you’re only an ally to my face, but silent behind closed doors. All of this starts from within. Use your privilege to nip any injustice in the bud. Actions will always speak louder than words.

8. Check up on us. Our mental health is almost always overshadowed.

In the chaos that comes with movements and liberation, mental health is often pushed to the side for the sake of reaction. In fact, mental health has always been a taboo subject in the black community, so I can see how you might forget to ask, “Are you OK?”

However, it’s not fair for us to be subjected to this hate and injustice and still be expected to come out of it unscathed. Some might say, “Well, I don’t need anyone to check up on me. I’m not weak.” But that’s not the point at all, is it? It is not weak to have people care about your well-being. You’d be cheating yourself if you kept yourself from that. So ask, please ask: How are you?

What now?

Non-black allies, you don’t have to move mountains or give speeches.

Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP/Getty Images.

But you can be considerate. You can listen. You can ask. You can act. You can refuse to be silent. We don’t get the luxury of ignorance. Neither should you.

True
Frito-Lay

Did you know one in five families are unable to provide everyday essentials and food for their children? This summer was also the hungriest on record with one in four children not knowing where their next meal will come from – an increase from one in seven children prior to the pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the country and many people struggle to secure basic needs. Unemployment is at an all-time high and an alarming number of families face food insecurity, not only from the increased financial burdens but also because many students and families rely on schools for school meal programs and other daily essentials.

This school year is unlike any other. Frito-Lay knew the critical need to ensure children have enough food and resources to succeed. The company quickly pivoted to expand its partnership with Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, to create the "Building the Future Together" program to provide shelf-stable food to supplement more than a quarter-million meals and distribute 500,000 pantry staples, school supplies, snacks, books, hand sanitizer, and personal care items to schools in underserved communities.

Keep Reading Show less

Biases, stereotypes, prejudices—these byproducts of the human brain's natural tendency to generalize and categorize have been a root cause of most of humanity's problems for, well, pretty much ever. None of us is immune to those tendencies, and since they can easily slip in unnoticed, we all have to be aware of where, when, and how they impact our own beliefs and actions.

It also helps when someone upends a stereotype by saying or doing something unexpected.

Fair or not, certain parts of the U.S. are associated with certain cultural assumptions, perhaps none more pinholed than the rural south. When we hear Appalachia, a certain stereotype probably pops up in our minds—probably white, probably not well educated, probably racist. Even if there is some basis to a stereotype, we must always remember that human beings can never be painted with such broad strokes.

Enter Tyler Childers, a rising country music star whose old-school country fiddling has endeared him to a broad audience, but his new album may have a different kind of reach. "Long Violent History" was released Friday, along with a video message to his white rural fans explaining the culminating track by the same name. Watch it here:

Keep Reading Show less
True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less

The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn’t have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women’s rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn’t something we’d choose—and we’d hope others wouldn’t choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

Keep Reading Show less
@frajds / Twitter

Father Alek Schrenk is known as one of the "9 Priests You Need to Follow on Twitter." He proved his social media skills Sunday night after finding a creepy note on a parked car and weaving a lurid Twitter tale that kept his followers on the edge of their pews.

Father Schrenk was making his nightly walk of the church grounds to make sure everything was fine before retiring to the rectory, when he found a car parked by itself in front of the school.

Curious, he looked inside the car and saw a note that made his "blood run cold" attached to the steering wheel. "Look in trunk!" the note read. What made it extra creepy was that the two Os in "look" had smiley faces.

Keep Reading Show less