What I saw this year (2020) was an awakening in many white people who felt some sadness, anger, guilt and/or shame around racial injustice towards black people. I saw them posting support for black lives matter and calling out friends and family who they felt were not understanding the pain of black people not just year but over the course of generations. I also saw many white people who were good intentioned but didn’t know what to do to help with the movement. They were afraid to center themselves or reach out to their black friends and potentially burden them. I also saw white people who too on the role of white saviors rather than centering the experiences of BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) individuals, platforms and organizations. I also saw a lot of shaming and aggression directed towards Trump supporters without looking at one’s own complicitness in white supremacy and white silence and the ways in which one has benefited from white privilege. I saw very little vulnerability and a lot of intensity. Intensity without intimacy isn’t going to heal the collective. We can’t cast away a new group of people as we have done for so many hundreds of years (i.e. colonialism and capitalism).
I have had the privilege to take many a workshop from Dr. Kenneth Hardy, a black psychologist, who talks about racial trauma and how to have healthy racial dialogues. I have run many antiracism workshops for mental health practices, yoga students and teachers in training, small businesses, nonprofits and countless community based programs. The reality is that you can be a good white person who loves black people without challenging the systems of oppression and racist forces.
These are some of my takeaways for budding white allies/accomplices.
Notice where you are now. Be kind and compassionate towards yourself while being fierce in uncovering all that you have learned that interferes with you having racial responsibility to dismantle white supremacy and other systems of oppression.
Want to dive deeper? Check out the anti-racism resources (therapists) or antiracism resources (non therapists), listen to a podcast. Sign up for anti-racism coaching individually with Dr. Nathalie Edmond, schedule a training for your team or community, or sign up for an upcoming anti-racism series.
Here is anti-racism assessment you can complete to check out your growing edges in becoming an ally.
Nathalie Edmond is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of trauma from a mindfulness based and somatic approach. She is also a yoga teacher and anti-racism educator. She lives with her family in New Jersey.