Six ways to support

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Six ways to support

Are you a non-black person, not sure how to support black struggles? Kristina Wong has some ideas for you


Demilitarize the Police, Black Lives Matter. By Johnny Silvercloud (CC 2.0)

In July 2013, when #BlackLivesMatter started, I was planning to go to Uganda to volunteer with a micro-loan organization. Before I left, I marched for Trayvon Martin, changed my Facebook profile to black, and argued online with people who didn’t agree with my #allLivesMatter posts. I thought I was aware of social injustice and race.

Then I got to Uganda and for the first time in my life everyone said I was a white person, or ‘mzungu’. I am third-generation Chinese American. And I’ve learned that I need to move through a situation, not around it.

Here are some practical steps for how to be a friend and supporter of black liberation struggles:

1 Even if you have had a hard life, it can’t be the same as the black experience

Maybe you were poor and bullied when you were young. But if you are black or brown you can be killed eg. in police brutality and violence.

2 Don’t think that you must be the hero

A white male friend of mine didn’t want to join a Black Lives Matter occupation of LA City Hall because the organisers asked him to ‘step back’ and follow the instructions of the black leaders. He said he thought black and white should work together, not be separate.

Don’t expect a prize for going when something needs your support. This is about putting the people who are most affected at the centre. It is not about you.

3 Fight to put more qualified black people in positions of power

If you work in an organization that says it supports diversity, look around and see if there are qualified black people who are not getting jobs as leaders. Do you have the power to change this? Use it!

4 Thank the civil rights activists for your freedom

Today, many non-black people benefit from black activists who died when they were fighting for the right to be treated equally. There is still a long way to go to equality.

5 If you are a ‘person of colour’, don't use this to avoid talking about privilege

I used to say anti-Asian racism was the same as anti-black racism. But it’s not. We have the same experience that we suffer racism in countries where most people are white. But we suffer violence in different ways.

6 Talk to other non-black people about why black lives matter

It is tiring and emotional to explain the politics. Everyone should work to explain and fight against racism, not just people who suffer the effects, but also people who benefit from it.

Kristina Wong is a performer, writer, actor, educator, culture jammer and filmmaker.