After marching, setting up recurring donations, and engaging in important conversations on and offline in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, if you are a non-BIPOC reader, you may now be setting longterm plans for your role as an ally. We’re living through a time when the concept of longterm planning has pretty much gone out the window, but there are still ways to plot out your individual path in the fight against racial injustice. To learn more, we spoke to Hilary Moore, Leadership Team Member of the organization Showing Up for Racial Justice, about strategies for keeping the momentum going.
What are lifelong ways to commit to anti-racist work?
Find an organization. Become a member of an organization near you. Join an organization with campaigns that pressure the institutions upholding white supremacy. Join an organization that is moving toward the visions of a more just society, conceived by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color liberation movements. If that organization doesn’t exist where you are, start a chapter of an organization that you’re inspired by. Through organizations, we can do the important work of thinking and acting collectively. When we do that, we win.
We’ve seen equal, and valid, criticism leveled against optical allyship and non-optical allyship. What advice do you have for those struggling to find direction between these two?
Allyship as a concept is tricky because there is no exact formula. At its core, though, allyship cares about taking effective, meaningful action. If we begin from the understanding that we all have an invested interest in actualizing the demands set out by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color leaders, then allyship transforms from a tricky concept into questions about strategy — strategies that can shift power: What actions can my organization take to make the “Defund the Police” demand even more possible?
Everyone will benefit from the structural changes that the Movement for Black Lives is calling for. By defunding the police, we decrease police violence and we invest in housing, education, and healthcare that takes care of everyone. This is how we create real safety. Let’s let that sink in for a moment.
What are the distinctions between performative allyship and authentic, meaningful allyship?
One way to gauge meaningful allyship is to assess for effectiveness. How much money did we raise for the Movement for Black Lives or local groups responding to police riots across the U.S.? How many new white people joined our “end white silence” action at the doors of the police department, and how many of those new white people came to our next planning meeting? How many free, nutritious lunches did we make for people taking action in the streets? How many signatures did we acquire to pressure our city council members to defund the police?
Is there a good rule of thumb for knowing when to speak up?
When you witness a racist attack—by police or vigilantes—get in the way. When you hear something racist that could put people’s lives in danger, speak out. Being part of an anti-racist organization can help us to develop an intuition about when to listen deeply and when to speak up. Anyone can learn these anti-racist skills.
Graphic by Lorenza Centi.