June 08, 2020 - 2391 views|
Black people need support in fighting against racial injustice and inequality. Here are some ways we can all be allies to the Black community.
As a diversity and inclusion (D&I) leader at Cognizant, I'm always planning for the next big D&I event. June, for instance, is filled with many Pride celebrations, virtual and otherwise. But instead of seeing coverage of upcoming LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations, I'm watching news coverage and having conversations with friends and family members about the senseless deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, Black men and women who were killed for seemingly no reason other than their skin color and lack of privilege. These deaths have led to protests, both peaceful and riotous.
Black people have died at the hands of the police – and even by citizens acting as police – since the U.S. was founded, and these are not the first protests against police brutality. But it seems there’s something different this time. At long last, I’m not just seeing Blacks proclaiming that Black Lives Matter. Crowds of protestors are filled with all races, ethnicities, genders and ages.
We’re in a perfect storm. COVID-19 keeps people home. Social media use rises as many people are stuck inside, some without work to keep them busy. Video clips of Black men being harassed or killed are shared on social media and go viral, but not just on Black Twitter. It seems that Americans of all races and backgrounds now see and finally believe the prejudice and racism that Blacks endure.
This is nothing new for Black people who have known that Black Lives Matter for years. We’ve battled the KKK, police dogs and water hoses, as well as ”Karens” who’ve called the cops on us for something as minor as barbequing. And we’ve been seeing videos of Black men and women being harassed and killed on social media since cell phone video became a thing.
As the mother of a 13-year-old Black boy who will soon outgrow his cuteness, I fear for him whenever he leaves home without me. If he and his friends are involved in a prank such as toilet-papering houses, will he be the only one charged if he’s with his mostly White friends? When he can drive in a few years, will he be pulled over by police simply for “driving while Black”?
America is a rough place for Black boys and men, but Black women are fearful too. I remember the time I was pulled over by a police officer for changing lanes without signaling, just as Sandra Bland was. Thankfully, my parents taught me early on what I had to do to survive a police stop – just as many other Black parents teach their children as they come of age. I quickly pulled out my driver’s license and registration, rolled down the window, put my hands on the steering wheel and prepared myself to greet the officer with a friendly, “Hello, officer. How can I assist you today?” This police encounter ended OK for me. But they don’t always.
Allies: A Universal need
As a Black woman, I’m glad to see allies take a stand and be heard. Black people need allies just as the LGBTQ+ community does. Some may argue we need allies even more. Those in the LGBTQ+ community can choose the time and place to disclose their sexual orientation, if they choose to do so at all; as a Black person, you cannot change the color of your skin if you end up in a precarious situation. We need allies to help in the fight against racial injustice and inequality. Here are some ways you can be an ally to the Black community.
Confronting racism together
Right now, many Black people are frustrated, outraged and exhausted. Frustrated about seeing how our community is disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Outraged about seeing our brothers and sisters senselessly and brutally killed. Exhausted about acting like we’re OK when we’re dealing with generations of racial trauma and institutional racism. We need allies to check their privilege and stand with us. Join us in the fight against racial injustice.