Dear white allies: We're tired of white people asking us how they can do better, so it's up to you to teach your friends.By Aaminah Shakur I began this essay two days before Charlottesville, VA imploded. I originally opened with two scenarios that I have witnessed of white self-described “allies” asking how they can influence their fellow white people in their social circles to do better for Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). It seems like every time something happens, white people wring their hands and ask “what can we do?” This places the onus on marginalized people to provide suggestions, lists, links, and handholding (i.e. literal and emotional labor) at a time when we are already trying to cope with and survive the given situation. It has been my experience that even when we offer the labor of suggestions, most white "allies" will ignore (or argue) every suggestion we give. Marginalized people can literally name “this is what I need from you right now” and be told that isn’t really what we need. While we are frequently treated as a monolith, where one of us is supposed to answer for our entire community, in the face of specific actions we ask allies to take suddenly they remember that none of us can speak for all of us, and they tell us that whatever we are asking for is unreasonable and does not represent our community’s “real” needs. So many lists fly around every time a crisis is happening, and when a new crisis happens we have to create a whole new list — even though it looks eerily like the last list that people should have been familiar with and applied to the new situation.
Related: HEY, WHITE ALLIES? IT’S GAME TIME.