Ideas for Supporting Our Black, POC, and Indigenous Friends and Neighbors
This post is part of a series in which we asked writers for their thoughts on allyship and combating racism.
In the midst of COVID-19, as the world quieted and we looked to our own families for a time, a space was created for voices oft unheard. Voices speaking of another virus, more silent and deadly — systemic racism.
As many of us have struggled to understand where this came from, and why now of all times is this coming "to light," I found myself with a jumble of thoughts and feelings, as well. The most overpowering thought that occurred was this: Am I racist simply because I am white?
To answer that question, we need to look at ourselves — to dig into the deep recesses of our hearts and root out anything that might appear or truly is racist. We must as a people look into our own hearts and change the only thing we can change — ourselves.
So I did what many Black voices were asking us to do, and I listened. I listened to the news, I listened to social media posts by Black voices, and I listened to those I personally know.
Started with a Phone Call
It started with a phone call to a lady I attend church with. What might she be going through? How can I be there for her? So, I simply asked.
“How are you?”
“What do you need me to know?”
“Here’s a link.”
“How can I do better?”
She told me about her Black teenage son and the worry she has for him. Worries that as a white woman will never cross my mind.
Then I called my cousin. A white woman, daughter of a former police officer, and married to a Black man. I listened to their stories. I learned that I will never feel the need to befriend police officers the same day I move into a new town. I will never be questioned about my pregnancy because my husband is not a Black man.
I felt my eyes and my heart open to stories from people I loved. How could I stop there?
There is only so much we can do at a time. In my home we value education and knowledge. So I started with my bookshelf. I had recently purchased a book by a Black author — Afia Atakora. But how many other books did I have by Black voices?
I pulled about 10 books from my shelves that were either about Black Americans or written by Black Americans. In a home with well over a couple hundred books, that is a small amount. But it was a start.
We began by reading Donovan’s Word Jar as a family. Bud, Not Buddy was given to my 7th grader to read on her own. I downloaded My Vanishing Country by Bakari Sellers and listened to it while cleaning the house.
In essence, I connected. To my family, to my friends, and to my fellow countrymen. I listened to their stories, and I couldn’t help but love them.
I implore you, reader, to listen and read. Listen to the voices crying out in pain. Even if you can’t see the cause of the pain — listen to their stories. For it is through listening and changing ourselves that the real change will occur.