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In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, I thought I’d say a few words about allies.
According to Dictionary.com, an Ally is “a person who associates or cooperates with another; a supporter.”
I can only speak from my own life experience. I am a gay, while male. That is the perspective from which I see the world. When it comes to *people of color, the best I can do is empathize and remember that it’s not always about me.
❇When I say “People of Color”, I’m referring to all ethnic and/or non-white people. Essentially, the majority of people on the planet.
As a gay man, I can easily empathize with any oppressed persons. There are laws prohibiting my very existence. Anti-gay violence is everywhere. It would be easy to compare it to the horrors inflicted upon African American families throughout the history of this great, yet flawed, country of ours. But I have the luxury of never having had my family torn apart and sold as chattel. No one in my family ever risked their lives just to sit at a lunch counter. No one in my family was strung up in a tree and left to die because (s)he misspoke. None of my family was burned out of their home because they moved into a neighborhood with better schools.
Allies don’t always get it right.
The job of an ally is to support and give voice to those whose voice cannot be heard. Unfortunately, we sometimes get so caught up in our own BS that we forget to step aside and give up the spotlight.
I’ve been fortunate to have had good friends and lovers who have had the patience and fortitude to put up with my BS, and show me when and where I was wrong. I didn’t always like it. At times I was downright insulted. How dare they say I’m just as racist as…? Live and learn, right?
The point I’m trying to make is this.
When you hear black folks expressing displeasure about white folks, for any reason, remember it’s necessarily about you. It could be, but chances are they’re just trying to tell you something. All you have to do is shut up and listen.
It’s not your job to say anything. Just listen.
We, as caucasians, have to understand that we don’t know all the answers. We need to recognize when to speak up, and when to shut the hell up and listen.
The Zimmerman trial verdict picked open a scab that has not had a chance to heal properly. The anger of non-whites is not an overreaction. It is a valid emotion stemming from centuries of systematic mistreatment, and downright cruelty.
Just because we elected a Black President does not mean we’ve evolved into a “Post Racist” America.
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