For example, with the hashtag #IRunWithAhmaud — Black runners were participating in that action as catharsis, to connect with someone they know could have been them on a different day in a different place at a different time. Why were white people running? To show that they ran? To make themselves feel like they did something of use? To perform allyship instead of being an actual ally?
What would it have looked like for white runners to offer distance ‘security’ for runners in their area? Or research how Black runners in their location are being treated? Fundamentally, white people need to understand that whenever something happens that makes them angry or upset, the same thing is happening wherever they are located. The best thing they can do is to look for ways to make sure there is no Ahmaud in their city, and to learn who and how to support the Ahmauds that live where they do.
Effective allyship — and this is not just true for white people, but for cis people who want to be good allies to trans folks, and for able bodied people who want to be good allies to disabled people — is rooted in the needs of those most affected. Accountability and partnership is built into good allyship work — ensuring the action you are taking has not only been vetted by the community you are serving, but that it also works in concert with the work they are already doing.
The sooner white people understand all the internal voices that stop them from taking action are rooted in white supremacy — and a basal distrust of Black people and Blackness — the easier it will be for them to start getting to work. Stop using ‘they, them & those people’ framing when talking about white supremacy and racism, and instead root their thought processes in ‘me, we & us.’
A few examples of good white allyship are pushing your PTA to require anti-racism and anti-oppression training for all parents in a school system, a direct white outreach campaign to support bailing Black mothers out of jail, creation of a list of Black women to hire for everything from resume help to graphic design. All these examples are rooted in two things: 1) they are actions white people are able to take without Black labor and 2) they have direct benefit to Black people. Effective, accountable action is the goal.
White people should leverage the privileges they have at all times, specifically financial ones towards those doing direct on the ground organizing work. They need to consistently ask themselves how they can remove as many barriers for support as possible. When in doubt, give your money to Black women, especially Black trans women. It’s the very least you can do, and still be incredibly effective in taking that action.
White people will fail in their attempts to be good allies, and they need to prepare for this in advance. This is critical to their path of becoming an anti-racist person. Black people are not expecting perfection from white people. We know it is not a question of if they will mess up but when they will mess up. What I have been saying over and over is, when white people mess up, what will they do then? Will they retreat? Will they give up? Will they lash out? Will they push blame onto others? Or will they use this as an opportunity to learn what not to do and commit to doing better?”