Protests happening all over the world are sending a powerful message to our government leaders, lawmakers, and us as individuals. Enough is enough – society is done witnessing oppressed populations be minimized, disadvantaged, discriminated against, and killed. It is not the role of oppressed people to educate the privileged on what they can do to help – it’s the job of those with privilege (such as skin colour, education, socioeconomic status, sexuality, or gender) to learn how to dismantle systems that are actively designed to only benefit some at the harm of others.
Staying silent about injustices is being complicit and siding – intentionally or not – with the oppressor. To be an ally, you must use your privilege to actively stand up for those who are being oppressed. Our sociocultural and political systems are designed to give weight only to the words of those who designed them (the privileged) so we have to actively work to change these systems for greater representation. Here are some ways to do so:
Donate and sign petitions
If you’re able, donate to the organizations who are working tirelessly towards systemic reform, protestor bailouts, and movements like Black Lives Matter, Black Visions Collective, and more. Where you put your dollar is your vote – and putting your money where your mouth is is one of the single best ways you can make your voice heard. There are also tons of petitions out there and signing them is easy, fast, and free. Putting your name on a meaningful petition takes very little effort, but the reward is great when everyone spreads the word and pitches in.
Listen and learn
So much of our education and culture is intertwined with systemic oppression, marginalization, and racism. Before we can start to fight to make the system more fair and just, we’ve got to learn how it works and the harm it does. We need to deepen our empathy for those from different walks of life. Check out some of these amazing works to broaden your understanding and perspective:
Movies & Television
- American Son
- Dear White People
- See You Yesterday
- When They See Us
- If Beale Street Could Talk
- The Hate U Give
- Black Power Mixtape: 1967 – 1975
- Fruitvale Station
- I Am Not Your Negro
- Just Mercy
- The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
- About Race
- Code Switch
- The Diversity Gap
- Intersectionality Matters!
- Momentum: A Race Forward, Pod For The Cause
- Pod Save the People
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism
- The Warmth of Other Suns
- Sister Outsider
- So You Want to Talk About Race
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
- Heavy: An American Memoir
- How To Be An Antiracist
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity In a World Made for Whiteness
- Just Mercy
- Redefining Realness
Check your privilege and reflect
There are many kinds of privilege – some major ones of which are: being male, being ethnically white or having lighter skin, having higher financial status, being educated, being heterosexual, or living in a neighbourhood with low violence and crime rates. On the other hand, different kinds of marginalization “intersect” to create unique, even greater forces of oppression (i.e. being African-American and female, or First Nations and Transgender). Take some time to reflect on your privilege and how you can use it to help decrease the marginalization and oppression that those without it face every single day.
Everyone deserves a seat at the table. And for some of us, we’re guaranteed a seat while others have to work much harder for it, or never get it at all. We can all do our part to speak up for those who don’t get access to everything everyone else does just because of the colour of their skin, their religion, or their sexuality. For even more incredible information, check out this roundup of antiracism resources created by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein.
Inspiration sources for this post (Instagram): @jezzchung, @goodgoodgoodco, @laurenmakk