White allies may feel uneasy speaking with authority on the the spate of unjust decisions involving a mix of racist cops and unarmed black people. It is a difficult thing to do and hard to do well. One thing is for sure is that a black person can do a better job of speaking to the issue. It may be difficult to take everything on board, but this piece by Briana Urena-Ravelo outlines many good reasons even people who mean well get it wrong. Worse than that, some white writers may make things worse no matter if they label progressive or not
The crux of the matter even when people get it right for her is this:
Even when I’ve read decent and commendable anti-racist pieces or thoughts by a white person put on a larger platform, I always wish that visibility could have been given to a person of color instead. We are socialized to always center and prioritize whiteness. The very idea of saying “I look within my own community for voices, authorities, and talent” is preposterous, and seen as “divisive”, even “reverse racist”.
A related viewpoint with a different focus is outlined by the blogger Spectra. She asks you for your empathy and to reason with white friends, who don’t get it.
It may not feel like much – your empathy may temporarily make you forget that you’re not like Brown, you’re not “one of us” and that in fact you are still one of “them” – but please try and remember how USEFUL you could be should you decide to be brave enough to speak up to the folks more likely to hear YOU than me.
Both approaches are useful in the current crises. It is a good suggestion to help magnify black voices. Black people are the authority on their own experiences. So towards that end if you have a platform like a blog, podcast, or youtube channel consider allowing someone with a strong black voice to borrow it, guest post, or invite them to the discussion. I don’t know why but even in the mostly progressive secular community there have been panels on diversity that don’t include people of color. Also, refer people to black voices of authority.
Tomorrow at 12:00AM Central People of Color Beyond Faith are holding a Townhall Meeting on Ferguson and Beyond. There will be great ideas there on how to show solidarity and how to move forward. The link is now up for the TownHall.
Aron and I have already featured black panelists Bria Crutchfield, Sirus Mined, and Yvette Stanton on the Ra-Men podcast. James Croft also joined the discussion as he was involved in the Ferguson protests. A warning the youtube comments are demoralizing.
One thought on “Black Voices Matter”
Sorry, I cannot accept that I am one of “them”. I do understand that I am not one of “us”. I would not presume to try to say that I can fully understand the pain, the reality of the awful bigotry and prejudice visited upon my African-American brothers and sisters, I know that I can only try but never succeed. It is presumptuous of me to even say that much. I know that I share the privilege of those that oppress you, mistreat you. I know that I cannot be one of you, but that does not mean that you are not one of me.