How to be an ally: Anti-racism resources for white people

Many white people witnessing the violence against Black bodies and minds are committed to action that will set our country on a more just path. As such, many are resolving to demonstrate allyship by taking actions to counter, disrupt, and dismantle systemic racism through anti-racism. If you’ve heard these words, wondered what they mean, and want to know how you can make a difference, read on for definitions, tips, and resources.

What is anti-racism?

To be an anti-racist means to involve yourself directly in the movement to end racism. Anti-racism is not passively declaring you are not a racist. Anti-racism is an active, moment-by-moment dedication to understanding how racism exists around and within you and making decisions to act against it.

How do I become an anti-racist?

Educate yourself. Learn about systemic racism (anti-Blackness) in the United States. Understand that every person in the United States is part of a 400-year old system that benefits white people by oppressing non-white people, specifically those in the Black community. Seek to discover how you perpetuate that system.

Throughout this process, be aware of the unpaid labor you impose on Black, Indigenous, or other People of Color when you ask them to explain racism to you. Instead, focus on doing your own research, enrolling in classes, or asking other white people to help you in learning and processing. The resources listed in the section below are a good starting point.

Actively practice anti-racism. There are many ways to practice anti-racism. Some of these include:

  • Committing to lifelong learning about racial equity and social justice
  • Donating to funds supporting People of Color
  • Signing petitions
  • Protesting in solidarity against racism
  • Holding difficult conversations when you witness other white people practicing racism, even when the conversations are uncomfortable
  • Observing where you practice racism and challenging your own beliefs and behaviors
  • Advocating for anti-racism in institutions and policies
  • Being aware of the space you occupy and making room for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color in roles of leadership, power, and decision-making

Move away from perfectionism. Perfectionism is an enemy of anti-racism. Accept that you will not be perfect as you learn how to be an anti-racist. You will make mistakes and you will do more harm. If you strive for perfection, you are likely to close yourself off to learning and humility and be at risk of burning out and turning away from your commitment to anti-racism.

As you learn how to be an anti-racist, remember to practice self-compassion for your past, present, and future mistakes so you can maintain resiliency to continue this work.

Where can I learn more?

Join the King County Anti-Racist White Action Group. King County’s Executive branch has adopted a policy for employees to participate in Employee Resource Groups, also known as affinity groups, during their work time. Join the King County Anti-Racist White Action Group to learn more about how to practice anti-racism at work and at home. Click here for more information.

Read and watch movies. There are many books and movies on racism and anti-racism. These resources can be purchased or can be borrowed from a local library. The Seattle Public Library has developed A Toolkit for Anti-Racism Allies, including e-books, downloadable audio books, and movies. Most of these selections are also available through the King County Public Library system.

Additionally, King County’s Employee Online Learning Portal, Skillsoft, has several audiobooks on racism. Available titles include “So You Want to Talk about Race?” by local author Ijeoma Oluo, “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander, and “Trauma Stewardship” by local author Laura van Dernoot Lipsky and Connie Burk.

Learn online. On social media, follow and amplify voices of color. Online, enroll in classes and lectures on anti-racism. For a list of websites, social media educators, and other resources, take a look at this google doc.

For information on racism as a health and well-being crisis, click here. If you have questions, contact balancedyou@kingcounty.gov.

 

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