We've come out of a historic Black History Month and we're now in the middle of an awesome Women's History Month - now's a great time to look at the people who are at the intersection of those months, Black women.
As a Black woman, I can't imagine being anything or anyone else - we are unstoppable queens with a lineage of excellence and light. However, systemic racism and sexism will always try to diminish that light.
Black women deserve allies and accomplices now more than ever - we, as a society, are on the precipice of great social change, and as usual, Black women are at the helm of it. I hear from a lot of allies, or folx who intend to be allies, puzzled about how to help. My answer is always to do the heart work first.
These eight (8) questions are great journal prompts and tough questions for non-Black allies and accomplices. It's important that you know where you are on the rung of the ladder of justice - I hope these questions help give you some clarity!
1. Will you use your voice to call out racial injustices against Black women?
Black women, particularly in the workplace, are targets racial-gender based microaggressions by their colleagues. In the workplace, microaggressions are often “well-meaning” and are excused away. It is imperative to not give way to the bystander effect when you hear racism. Call it out in directly, or work behind the scenes to document the incident, delegate to a third party, or take action after the fact.
Being an ally online is great. But you probably have a Black woman colleague sitting right in front of you who is being discriminated against.
2. How are you financially compensating Black women for their labor?
Black women aren’t fairly paid. A fairly easy way to help decreasing this gap is to pay Black women directly for their content. It’s common to see Cashapp, Venmo, and Patreon links on the content of Black women creators. Pay what you can.
If you don’t know of anyone in your life who is welcoming compensation, there are creators on Instagram and Twitter, only one search away.
You can also make a post inviting Black women to drop their links and their content as well. Sharing is caring.
3. Who are you voting for? Are they accountable to Black women?
No time to be cute or coy in 2021. Politics are personal. And all candidates don’t treat Black women the same.
Do your research on your candidates. Are they anti-racist now? WERE they racist? Will their proposed policies disproportionately affect marginalized people in general?
Share with your circle which candidates are anti-racist. Support them in ways accessible to you that will get them the victory.
4. What stereotypes and fetishization about Black women have you believed?
Black women are so fabulous that we are subjected to many stereotypes to dim our glow: Angry Black Woman, Hypersexualized Jezebel, the asexual Mammy, and more. While these stereotypes are from back in the day, their damage is insidious and affects Black women as you are reading this. Take ownership of when you found yourself operating from these stereotypes.
One step further: take account of what media you consume still utilizing these stereotypes. Call them out.
5. If you have access to power, are you willing to share with Black women?
Mentor or sponsor a Black women.
Historically, Black women have less access to power in America; if you have it, share it. Don’t wait for a formalized program that will never come; do your own thing.
A mentor advises the mentee - a mentor can be anyone in a position of experience. A sponsor is a senior-level person in the organization who advocates for their protégé when they aren’t in the room.
Encourage your non-Black colleagues to do the same.
6. Are you willing to study issues facing Black women with non-Black people?
It’s been said many times, many ways: we cannot do the work for you. It’s important for non-Black folx to come together and read, research, and reflect together. Processing grief and guilt together (and not making your Black friends do it with you) is important.
There are a plethora of workshop trainings, anti-racist readings, and informative conferences designed specifically for non-Black folx.
7. What do systems you have leadership/power in that you can turn anti-racist?
Only you know the answer to this. What spaces do you have privilege in? Where can you make changes in procedure? Are there policies that are colorblind? Have disparate impact? Outright racist?
Do what you can where you are with what you have. Take an honest assessment of where you are in your circles of influence. And where Black women aren’t.
8. How long can you keep this up? What is your racial resilience?
Be honest with yourself. Don’t play yourself.
These are questions that may take longer to answer. But you need to assess where you are in your journey towards anti-racism.
You need to assess how much time and money you can commit.
You need to assess how uncomfortable are you willing to be.
You need to assess how much you are willing to sacrifice for equity and equality.
When you get your answers, hold yourself accountable. It’s the best thing for your own resilience - this isn’t one battle, it’s a war, and we need you well.