How to Be an Ally Going Forward

Umbrella Street in Old San Juan | How to be an Ally by popular D.C. lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of Alicia Tenise wearing a straw fedora hat and walking down Umbrella Street in Old San Juan.

Last week was overwhelming, to say the least.

Where do I begin? Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the murder of George Floyd sparked outrage around the world, and has led to a massive, global civil rights movement. Last weekend, I felt traumatized, along with countless other black people across this nation. Not only have we all experienced racism regularly in our lives, but we also have seen too many videos of unarmed black people dying at the hands of the police over the past eight years.

I grew up feeling inferior in this country because of the color of my skin. I’ve been stereotyped, discriminated against, and felt the pressure to assimilate to Western culture and Eurocentric beauty standards my entire life. And with the #AmplifyMelanatedVoices Movement, I was able to share some personal stories via small essays and videos on Instagram last week.

At the beginning of last week, I was outraged, and I didn’t think non-black people would care about our stories. Black content creators across the country shared their raw, honest experiences last week on social, and guess what? People actually listened.

What? Excuse me? People care about us? They’re willing to fight for us? Educate themselves on systemic racism? Honestly? I never thought I’d see the day that this would be a global movement. I’m overwhelmed and have never been so optimistic about the future.

Now that the #AmplifyMelanatedVoices Movement has come to a close and influencers are posting “normal” content on their feed again, if you’re an ally, or want to learn more about how to be an ally, I want to remind you that this is only the beginning of a long fight. One week of activism will not make up for 400+ years of oppression.

Ready to join the fight for equality? Are you in this for the long haul?
 

Good. We need you. Here are a few things you can do to keep the momentum going.

How to be an Ally Going Forward

  • Keep educating yourself. There are a lot of stories you didn’t learn in your U.S. History class while growing up. Stories that will make you uncomfortable and upset. This anti-racism guide is incredibly comprehensive: it includes books, articles, videos, podcasts, and more to take in to learn more about systemic racism in the U.S. I’d highly encourage you to share this with your friends, family, and if you’re an influencer, share this guide with your readers. Commit to reading one of these books, listening to one of these podcasts, and/or watching some of these films a few times a month. Make a game plan and encourage those around you to do the same.
     
  • Make recurring donations. Kudos if you made donations this week to groups that are fighting for equality. Let’s keep that momentum going forward. I had to look at my own spending habits: while I’ve donated $500 to various groups over the past week, instead of giving a large sum all at once, I could have committed to making small donations each month. This movement is going to get less media attention as time goes on, but that doesn’t mean that these organizations aren’t going to continue to fight for change.
     
    Some groups that I’m setting up monthly, recurring donations to? Color of Change, Campaign Zero, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
     
  • Have uncomfortable conversations with your friends and family. You know that racist uncle you have that you dread seeing every Thanksgiving? Your friend who’s spreading “All Lives Matter” messages on Facebook? Well, now is the time to enlighten them.
     
    It’s not going to be easy. Some of your loved ones won’t be open to it. But if you want to be an ally, you’ve got to at least try to educate them. Here’s a fantastic article with insight from a therapist on how to talk to your non-black family members about racism.
     
  • Demand action from your representatives. The police need a major overhaul. I still have a lot to learn about how the system works (I recently learned about qualified immunity, and that was a game-changer!), but I know it needs a pretty drastic change.
     
    As I educate myself over the next few months/years, I plan on contacting my local representatives if I notice that my local government is enacting policies that lead to mass incarceration, injustice, and discrimination in my community. I’ve used the websites Countable and 5Calls.org in the past as a way to easily find my representative’s contact information — I’ve moved quite a bit over the past five years, and that info is constantly changing.
     
  • Vote and research candidates thoroughly. Now more than ever, it is essential to vote in every election. It is evident that local elections and primaries are so crucial. Before voting, make sure to research the candidates that are running, and make sure that their values align with yours.
     
    Heads up: these states have primaries coming up in the next few weeks:
     

    • Georgia: June 9*
    • West Virginia: June 9*
    • Nevada: June 9
    • North Dakota: June 9
    • South Carolina: June 9
    • Kentucky: June 23*
    • Mississippi: June 23
    • New York: June 23*
    • North Carolina: June 23
    • Virginia: June 23 (the last day to request an absentee ballot is June 16)
    • Delaware: July 7*
    • New Jersey: July 7*
    • Louisiana: July 11*
       
      *Presidential Primary
       
  • Support black-owned businesses and content creators. How many black-owned businesses and content creators do you currently support? If that number is low, let’s change that.I’m looking forward to sharing some of my favorite black-owned businesses over the coming months. In the meantime, I’d highly recommend Suki Suki Naturals (haircare & skincare), EttaVee (art), Oma The Label (fashion and jewelry), Pat McGrath (cosmetics), and Soukie Modern (home decor).
     
    For influencers, check out my round-up of my favorite influencers of color here.

Allies: I see you putting in the work this week, and I am truly amazed by you. Thank you for fighting for us. We’ve got a long way to go, but I think we can change the world.

Have any questions on how to be an ally or anything else? Drop me a comment below!

Photo by Tom McGovern

4 Comments

  1. Kay R.D. wrote:

    Awesome post and truly great ways to help the cause and become an ally!

    Posted 6.10.20
  2. I just came across your blog and I am so incredibly grateful I have found you! ❤️ Your writing is so supportive, informative and inviting. By the way, I love wine too!! I took a break in my social work career to work in the wine industry prior to having children. Cheers!!

    Posted 6.12.20
  3. Alex wrote:

    Thank you so much for this, Alicia! I’m a new follower of yours and your message is so important – we’ve got a long way to go! And I love the 5calls website! Going to be using that moving forward! xo

    Posted 6.12.20
  4. Amanda wrote:

    I just recently came across your blog, and was immediately drawn in! Such beautiful pictures- your whole page is so inviting. In light of everything going on, I (like many others) have tried to continuously educate myself on the injustices that have been going on all around me. It’s shocking to find that so much has happened while a huge part of the world turns the other way. Personally, I have vowed to speak up. The blogging world provides a very unique platform and I really hope that our messages reach those who need to hear it most. Wishing you all the best during this time.

    Posted 6.23.20

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