Many social media influencers and brands (myself included) committed to keeping our usual feed content silent for the last week to unplug the white noise and listen carefully to Black voices during this societal breaking point. I have been trying to process what to say today. I feel a constant tug-of-war between being silent and listening/yielding to the Black people who deserve a megaphone and using my voice to inspire other white people that they can do better. However, the last thing I need to do is let my fear of criticism or doing it “wrong” paralyze me into not even trying.
Today begins a commitment from me to listen more AND learn more AND speak up more AND pass the mic more. I believe that I can do all of those things at once with my platform and privilege and I believe that all of those things will contribute to the infinite work of anti-racism and dismantling white supremacy.
As you well know, we are in the middle of a major social movement in this country. For the first time in my lifetime, people seem to be paying attention to the injustices that have existed for Black America since the dawn of our country. I’m seeing people who’ve never considered their privilege before begin to care. People are protesting racism and police brutality in all 50 states and all over the entire world. I am seeing less defense and more compassion than ever. I’m seeing corporations outed and CEOs cancelled. I’m seeing Gen Z rise up and organize massive demonstrations. I’m fired up.
Of course, it’s easy for me to have hope and optimism… because I am white. I haven’t lived a life of oppression on the heels of generations of trauma. I’ve never experienced what Black Americans have and I will never be able to understand fully. Black people are tired and many are losing/have lost hope for change. We white people have to carry more of that load, not just this week- forever.
We could spend eternity trying to selfishly reframe conversations and use confirmation bias to make ourselves feel superior OR we could get comfortable being uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable is *gasp* not in fact as scary as it sounds. If we aren’t a sociopath, we don’t want to feel the guilt of thinking we may have hurt someone. We don’t want to see ourselves as an offender. We purposely avoid learning things that force us to see our flaws, it’s human nature… and this might sting- but it’s also our white superiority. We’ve long been allowed the convenience of turning a blind eye to painful truths that stitched our country together. We have the privilege of never experiencing a country that was designed to oppress us.
The work of looking in the mirror and seeing our privilege on purpose feels foreign and counter intuitive, but we can’t let that stop us, and we have to stop looking at it like a personal attack.
For any major change to take place, we do not need a few people doing everything perfectly- we need millions of people doing things imperfectly in a progressive motion. And to keep that momentum, we have to expect that it will be ego shattering, painful, and yes- uncomfortable. As we’ve been reminded countless times over the last couple of weeks, allyship is a lifelong journey- not a destination. Remind yourself that this is a humanitarian revolution, not a temporary social media campaign.
As Americans, we are conditioned to only consume the information that is delivered straight to us. We are lazy. It is not instinctual for us to search for answers or spend time digging for facts. It can be frustrating, time consuming, and confusing to do the work of learning on our own, but it has never been easier. There is Google. There are thousands upon thousands of Black educators and creators on social media doing underpaid labor to teach us and advocate for themselves. As white voices (especially those of mass influence), WE need to be shouldering much of that burden and continuously giving them the mic. We need to use our voices and platforms to help expose what’s being hidden in the shadows. We need to share clear education that white people can’t ignore anymore.
We have to do better.
I was raised in rural South Georgia. While our entire country and its systems are interwoven with racism, the Deep South is particularly haunted with dark history. I grew up in the epicenter of prejudice and racial bias. While I never considered myself to be covertly racist, for many years I didn’t understand the gravity of my overt racism or the harm I was doing by being a passive ally. I let racist microaggressions and jokes go unacknowledged in my presence, I opted out of tough conversations with family for my own comfort, I went to many Women’s Rights demonstrations but not BLM marches, I have been defensive when Black Women have called out errors in my activism. I’ve messed up a thousand times and I know I will a thousand more, but I’m breaking up with being a passive ally. Every single Black man, woman and child deserve a hell of a lot more than that and I’m committed to doing this work.
I’ll spend my life proving that my actions speak just as loud as my words.
I want to share my plan moving forward so that my position is clear and because accountability is important to me.
How I’m personally committing to the continual fight against racism:
- Keeping my feed diverse and encouraging my followers to do the same.
- Maintaining an IG story highlight with saved anti-racism resources and graphics.
- Researching and boycotting professionally working with brands who do not have diverse representation and do not actively combat racism.
- Actively seeking more diverse creative collaboration with other creators.
- Asking more often for Venmo/Patreon information when consuming “free” education from Black activists, creators and educators.
- Promoting and amplifying Black educators and creators much more frequently.
- Age appropriately talking to my children more transparently about racism.
- Cultivating more diverse entertainment, toys and education in my home.
- Recurring and transparent monthly donations from Katie Crenshaw, LLC to organizations that benefit the Black community.
- Redirection of our personal budget to support black owned businesses where possible.
- Learning more about local politics, especially as it pertains to our judicial system and those imbalances and never missing another local election.
- Educating myself and my audience on accurate black history.
- Attending more public demonstrations in solidarity and to continue to teach my kids that showing up physically for people is an underrated love language.
- Root & Rise (my group of career creators): cultivating and maintaining a diverse community, having transparent conversations about wage equality, and zero tolerance for any form of racism.
- Body Can Books: continuing to amplify Black authors and Black booksellers and feature diverse characters in our books.
- Her Body Can: continuing to feature a diverse variety of women and amplify anti-racist initiatives.
This work is never done, but I’m no longer interested in a complacent form of allyship and I hope my fellow white people will join me in these changes and improvements. We may not have chosen to be born into white privilege, but we are the ones responsible for dismantling a racist system.