White allies should speak out on behalf of unheard black people and communities, writes Jourdan Hilaire, who offers suggestions for how to do so beyond simply posting on Lets chat blk female for white male. Courageous and intentional conversations around implicit bias and racism aimed at the black community have always taken place. These conversations were occurring long before the tragedies of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin and many others.
I am gratified by the recent public statements from leaders at small to large public and private universities and corporations conveying their support and pledging to stand by the black community to end racial injustices. Still, as I read, I wonder, what now?
As a higher education practitioner who has worked in many areas of student affairs since my undergrad years, I have poured out so many of my thoughts and feelings to the people on campuses who hold the influence and power to make final decisions concerning racial injustice, institutionalized racism, inequalities for all marginalized communities and more. And certainly, higher education institutions have addressed these lets chat blk female for white male in the past -- usually through programs and events hosted by the Office of Multicultural Affairs or Office of Equity and Inclusion or some similar part of the college or university.
But black students, staff and faculty want and need more. So, again, I ask, what now? I once personally shared with a white colleague of mine at an institution that we needed more conversations around racism as perceived by black students and staff members. I told them that, although many marginalized and underrepresented communities have experienced some form of prejudice or racism, historically no other group of people has been subjected to such hostilities and their continuing negative effects as much as black people.
What my colleague said next was most troubling. I strongly disagree with that point of view. On the contrary, all offices, departments and university officials need to have these conversations as often as possible.
Are allies just going to go hard in the paint on social media and virtually combat bigotry and racism so their racist friends can see and debate them? Are our allies going to step up to the plate at town halls, our institutions and staff meetings and speak out on behalf of the unheard?
Are they going to demand changes in policies and more trainings, funding and social and educational programs to support the black community -- what members of that community and many others on and off the campuses that have sought, and fought for, for so long? These types of conversations must happen expeditiously and effectively.
For those of you willing to be part of them, here are some helpful tips and strategies to become an ally beyond simply posting on Facebook. Attend multiple consistency is key cultural student organization meetings. Not sure where to start at your own institution? Partner with the diversity office or inclusion coordinator on your campus. Work to create opportunities for all people to converse and be informed about and challenged on the topics of race, gender, intersectionality and police brutality. Trust me, that will go a long way.
Watch films and documentaries that highlight racial inequality and discrimination.
Talk with a black friend about these movies and shows. Share your perspective and allow your black friend to do the same. Would you be interested and comfortable having a conversation about it after I finish? Continue to call out racism and bigotry through social media.
Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd were not the first victims of racism and will not be the last. We want you to continue to speak up and speak out to fight this war with us. Are you ready for the long battle?
Organize group talks to discuss race, social injustices and the role privilege plays in the fight for racial justice. Creating spaces for nonblack people to come together to share perspectives and learn how to support the black community is a great way to build and expand alliances. Black people constantly talk about race and how their blackness can be a beacon of change on and off campuses -- in their families, communities, churches and other organizations. That will provide a space to challenge and inform your peers about racist systems built to hold black people back.
I have provided some sources below that can provide insights about how to start these types of conversations.
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Review articles and other resources on the issues. Please take this fight seriously. Black people have lived through this emotional, mental and physical abuse for far too long. Our communities are changing for the better and growing stronger to combat the hate we received from the start of our existence in this country.
So as you navigate these new opportunities through allyship, I challenge you to ask yourself the two questions that I raised at the beginning: Why now? And what now? Jourdan Hilaire is the housing and residential education student leadership and development specialist at California State University, San Bernardino. Be the first to know.
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By Jourdan Hilaire. June 10, Bio Jourdan Hilaire is the housing and residential education student leadership and development specialist at California State University, San Bernardino.
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