There’s a misconception of this current moment, a misplaced assumption that Black people have been waiting for white people to emotionally break open in front us. No, we’ve been asking you to be our co-conspirators in dismantling systemic and institutionalised racism. We’ve been asking you to sit in the discomfort that comes with this work.
Instead, you have managed to “show support” while sitting comfortably in your white spaces and patting each other on the back. You have somehow managed to centre your own feelings above ours as you offer your voices and privilege to advance our movement. We’re happy you’re here but allow me to offer some advice on a slight adjustment to your approach.
“I see you. I hear you. I love you. I’m sorry.” Were Black people invisible before the murder of George Floyd? Did we break ground on a new level of language and communication? What do you see, hear and love? What are you apologising for? What ARE you going TO DO to never apologise again?
Let’s zero in on the word love. Love is an action. I need you to act on this new found love you have for me. Don’t see me, see white supremacy. Don’t hear me, hear the excuses that are already being made in the case for denial of Black liberation. Don’t say you’re sorry, learn what you are apologising for.
Stop writing blog posts and articles. There is a movement of well-meaning white people who are sitting in worship with their white complicity and fragility. I commend you for the work you are trying to do. However, I ask with every ounce of melanin in my body to stop writing posts and articles to that one Black person you hurt and now you are incredibly sorry about it. Stop writing articles and posts about your Black partner, Black kids or your Black poodle. Daddy called your Black husband the n-word. What did you do when he did? How did you support your husband? What did the rest of your family do or say when you told them? What do you want the Black community to do with your unburdening of guilt? If you really want to be an ally, have these uncomfortable conversations within your family groups and friend circles and hold them accountable. Stop publishing them so other white people can pat you on the back.
I also feel this bears repeating: being in any sort of relationship with a Black person does not make you any less racist. Relationships with slave masters and slaves were not uncommon. They engaged in these intimate relationships while still running plantations and brutalizing Black bodies. To that end, I ask Black people to also check themselves and realize they also could be upholding white supremacy.
The flooding of performative support for Black businesses. Truth: Black businesses will exist before and after this moment. Harder truth: Your social media follows are worth a total of $0. You’re creating lists of Black businesses and sharing them with your friends but not actually spending any money with these businesses. Undeniable fact: Spending money with a business is the only true way to show your support. Also, please stop creating your own lists of Black businesses. We weren’t waiting on white people to discover us and create directories for us. You can find one here on ByBlacks.com, and many other Canadian Black business directories already exist. Share those instead.
I will offer 30 minutes of my time to any Black person who wants to…. STOP THIS! Do you know what this proves? This proves that we have been right all along about systemic bias. It proves that you are and have always been a willing gatekeeper. It proves that you are more than capable of building a bigger table, creating a seat or hiring Black people in the top positions. However, your white saviour complex runs so deep that you think that 30 minutes of your time is all a young Black person needs to get ahead. We have Black lawyers, doctors, politicians, plumbers, actors, chefs etc. There isn’t a single job, skill or career on earth that a Black person isn’t doing. You’re doing this to feel good about yourself and not actually change anything. How are you challenging biased hiring practices within your company? How are you showing up for Black people in your sector? We have not been dying just so you can place 30 minutes of your time on some pedestal of white giving.
Blind corporate donations and statements of allyship. All those times we asked for donations, we apparently hadn’t experienced the right amount of death for corporate North America to see value in initiatives that uplift and support the Black community. At warp speed, corporate companies have commoditized the Black Lives Matter Movement turning it into a corporate battle. Yet, what is painfully obvious is a lack of thought in determining who receives these donations. Are the organisations selected worthy of donations? Absolutely. Yet, if every corporate company donates to the same organisations, imagine all the others left behind.
Where is the Black Business Grant or Low-Interest loan from our corporate banks?
Which bank is ready to truly address financial racism?
Which company in corporate Canada will offer grants towards eliminating Black student debt? Which company in corporate Canada will offer rent subsidies when greedy landlords get the green light to evict?
Which CEOs or executives in Canada will use their considerable power to challenge racist policies and systems that threaten the livelihoods of the BIPOC community?
Which corporate company will risk it all for police-free schools?
Frankly, your donations make you feel good but they will not be enough to change the system. What are you willing to put on the line?
This article is part of "The Allyship Series", a five-part digital series addressing questions and topics around how to be an ally in the wake of the global Black Lives Matter protests after the police killing of George Floyd. Pay attention. It includes some very raw, honest opinions and advice from Black writers about how they are experiencing the world now that everyone has been forced to pay attention to something we have been carrying, sometimes silently, for our entire lives.
Teneile Warren is a proud queer mom, writer, chef and equity educator. Her writing has appeared in ByBlacks, Huffington Post and Barren Magazine. She is an editorial advisor and mentor for Textile Magazine. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario with her wife, son and three furbabies. She explores identity, social issues and community through words and food. Find her on Twitter @iamquagmire