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Best Practices in Allyship During Difficult Times

Many white organizers feel awkward or uncertain about how to show up to support Black and brown communities under attack. And yet we all must show up. Even though it’s so much easier to stay quiet, well-intentioned silence is one of the many reasons our country has not moved forward. Below, we’re going to give you some tips and best practices so you can be the best ally possible. Know that you will make mistakes - know that you will not feel like you are doing everything right - but know this - by NOT showing up in these times, you enable the system racism that has plagued our country for years.  

DO: Take action.

This Indivisible guide is a starting point to show solidarity and take action. This google doc created by Nancy Latham of Indivisible East Bay also has great resources.

DON’T: Post the videos of people being murdered.

Black activists have said loud and clear that seeing these videos repeatedly on their feeds is triggering and harmful, take them at their word and don’t post graphic videos.

DON’T: Plan your own protest.  

First off, it is not your place to lead; reach out to trusted Black-led organizations in your area. See what they are planning. Ask what they need, if there’s any assistance you can provide. Step BACK during planning calls, step BACK during press moments. While you may have led 200 protests over healthcare, this is not your space. This is your space to follow and support. 

DO: Check in with Black and other POC in your group.

Reach out and let them know you’re thinking about them and want to support them. Avoid saying things like “I get it” or “I totally understand,” while well-intentioned white people will never truly understand the pain and fear Black and brown people live with. Instead, say something like “I can’t imagine what you’re feeling right now but I want you to know I support you and I’m here to help you through this” or “I’m never going to be able to fully understand what you’re feeling, but I would like to help support you as best I can and welcome a conversation about what that might look like for you.” 

DO: Respond to clueless or racist posts (intentional or unintentional) and call folk in.

This is the time for your leadership to step up and address each post. We are not good allies unless we call it all harm, intentional or not, in all our spaces. Here’s a good article with examples of how to respond to the “Riots won’t solve anything” post: Article - Riots Never Solve Anything . Also, it is NOT the role of your POC members to address these posts, it is your role as a white organizer and leader. This is a moment you can move your group forward. 

DO: Take safety precautions if you attend in-person events.

Indivisible is not currently organizing or recruiting for in-person events, and we can’t make any guarantees about safety. If you choose to attend protests or other events, The Anti Police-Terror Project has identified best practices for safety. Know the risks and do what you can to minimize the risk for you and those around you.

  1. Bring extra masks and hand sanitizer for others at the protest that don’t have them.

  2. Maintain 6 feet of social distancing at all times

  3. Attend with a protest buddy. Stay together and have the National Lawyers Guild Legal Hotline 415.285.1011 written on your arm in case you are arrested. Let your buddy know who to contact if you are.

  4. Be aware of the health implications of being arrested, both for you and your community.

  5. If you are Black or Brown and are arrested, please let the National Lawyers Guild know when you call. The Anti Police-Terror Project has bail funds and will work through the night to get you home. 

  6. Breaking the Shelter In Place (SIP) order has serious legal implications—it can result in a misdemeanor, punishable by jail time or a large fine—in some cases $600 to $1000—that is selectively enforced. Know this and be aware of the consequences of being in the streets if you see cops writing tickets or closing in on you.

DON’T: Speak to the press, instead redirect them to a Black person who wants to speak

As a white organizer, when the Press comes near, it's our job to push the Press to someone from the impacted community, with their permission. Do NOT speak for the community. While it may feel flattering to be asked our opinion, our role is to have the community affected speak for themselves. Note that not everyone will be safe with their picture taken or name in the press, especially if police are becoming violent or making arrests, so ask before you redirect the press.

DO: Learn more about anti-racism and how to be an ally.

Start reading these books and resources:

DON’T: Respond with “violence is not the answer” or post about the looting.

Read this article and call in people who say this and similar things.