On White Allies
So I'm supposed to advise all the white folk like me how to treat individuals of color? To say something applies to all white folk, well, that seems silly. Kind of like asking your black friend if they think black folks are going to like the new Disney movie about the first black Disney princess. You can't ask an individual to speak for an entire population of…individuals. If someone asked me to speak for all white folks, I'd say that's ridiculous. I'd also feel kind of negated. And this concept might be the first step to understanding what it means to be a white ally.
Being a white ally means you understand that if you peer behind the curtain, you will see institutional, systemic racism everywhere. Once you know, you can't un-know. And pretending not to know is simply unacceptable. So now what?
You have choices.
So in the spirit of choice, let's talk about what white allies do and say, and what they don't do and say. The statements that follow come from folks of color, anonymously submitted, at a diversity conference:
My LIS classes are full of white women; the best thing we can do is talk about it. Folks are afraid to talk about race. Talking about race means peering behind that curtain and facing your white privilege. When you look, will you feel guilty? Will you look away? Or will you talk it out. You have choices.