Jewish and Israeli protesters at a Black Lives Matter rally in South Bend, Indiana.
Jewish and Israeli protesters at a Black Lives Matter rally in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo: Alexander Clegg/Jewish News)

Guidelines for conducting ourselves in the fight for racial justice.

Many of us have been closely following the news around our country over the last week, wondering how to help the Black Lives Matter movement and other groups in the struggle for racial justice.

I saw a quote on social media that appears to have originated from Los Angeles-based artist Cali Rockowitz. I found it beneficial for my own avenues for engagement.

It reads, “Some people are posting on social media, some are protesting in the streets, some are donating silently, some are educating themselves, some are having tough conversations with friends and family. A revolution has many lanes—be kind to yourself and to others who are traveling in the same direction. Just keep your foot on the gas.”

If you’re a white person, no matter how you choose to engage, there are some important guidelines for being an ally to the black community and beginning to do the work:

  1. It’s time for white people to listen. Pushing our own agenda or narrative doesn’t support the black community. Now isn’t the time to share our own experiences of injustice, no matter how relevant they may seem. It’s our turn to hand over the mic.
  2. Amplify black voices. Go out of your way to share their stories, their artwork, their writing, their struggles and their wins. If you have a platform, use it. Turn it over to a person of color for a day or a week and help raise their voice up. Promote and patronize their businesses, organizations and communities. Keep in mind that you’re there to support, not to save.
  3. If you choose to attend a protest, remember you’re there as an ally to black attendees. Follow their lead, their directions and their chants.
  4. Don’t ask your black friends, colleagues or neighbors to do this work for you. Instead, use the resources already in abundance and find your own way, or ask your white friends for assistance. Look online for classes, workshops, podcasts and readings that examine unconscious bias and systemic oppression.
  5. Don’t racially gaslight. Phrases like “It was just a joke,” “Why is it always about race?” and “Are you sure that’s what happened?” aren’t supportive, and invalidate black experiences.
  6. Accept this will feel uncomfortable. That’s how you know you’re peeling back layers and examining the systemic privileges you’ve unknowingly enjoyed merely as a result of the color of your skin and the circumstances you were born into.
  7. Understand that waking up is just the beginning. Next we have to actually do something about it. That’s how you go from being an ally to an accomplice. Take the hands of your friends, family and neighbors, and bring them with you on your journey. Our black brothers and sisters deserve this from us.
  8. Speak out against injustice, and stand up for those being oppressed. As Angela Davis said, “It is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.”

Check out some more resources below:

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