I’ll start this article with a caveat: I’m a white privileged woman. I do not and probably will never fully understand how hard life is for other people.
Having said that and acknowledging that I might not be the best suited person to write an article about white privilege, I think it is important that I share my views as a white person and the reasons why I decided to become an ally.
I’m an ally because the alternative is being an accomplice. I would be perpetuating a system that continually harms people of color. I’m an ally because it is not enough to be “not racist”, we need to be “anti-racist”.
In order to create better workplaces for all, we need to stand up for racism. We need to acknowledge that it exists, understand where it comes from and actively fight it.
Privilege (and unconscious bias) often makes us blind to the day-to-day discrimination and micro-aggressions that exist in our society. It’s not that we don’t care, it’s just that we don’t notice them.
We need to change this. We need to step up our efforts. It is our job, as privileged people, to take notice. We shouldn’t depend on the people of colour to present evidence of their pain and to offer step by step instruction on to how to fix our society.
We ourselves need to assume responsibility and become allies.
What does it mean to be an ally?
As Rachel Cargle explains it in her Ted Talk, the equation for what it means to be an ally is: Knowledge + Empathy + Action.
We need to bring these three elements together in order to truly show solidarity.
Knowledge and empathy are focused on listening to the voices of people of colour. Exposing ourselves to experiences that are “different” from what we are used to, from what we were taught – due to underrepresentation, discrimination, and prejudice. We must understand bias and build an appreciation for diversity and inclusion in all domains. We must learn stories of amazing black people and recognising how much harder it was for them to accomplish great things. We must ensure a level playing field.
This takes us to the 3rd component of the formula: Action.
Action is deciding not to settle on just not being racist, but instead, intentionally and passionately taking steps against racism that is perpetuated in our workplaces.
Action is showing up, all of us, every day.
For more information on how to fight discrimination and micro-aggressions please reach out to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org