Letter: What blacks want from white allies

By Melinda Nielsen

Christina Moschetto/Daily Collegian)
(Christina Moschetto/Daily Collegian)

To The Editor,

Two weeks ago the “Stand Against Racism” program presented a panel of black activists at the Honors College to talk about their experiences. During the Q & A period an audience member asked the panelists what they wanted from whites who wanted to be allies to people of color. They didn’t have to think for more than a moment before the answers came pouring forth.  This is what I managed to jot down (paraphrased):

  1. Come to our events.
  2. Share our social media postings and flyers.
  3. Link your organizations with ours.
  4. Don’t come to us looking for recognition for being good (given your pre-existing white privilege).
  5. Fight white supremacy.
  6. Listen. You don’t have to inject your own ideas all the time.
  7. Don’t think your view can represent our reality.
  8. Don’t think you can make pronouncements on black suffering.
  9. Don’t expect blacks to educate you about their experiences; that is the ultimate in white privilege. We are too busy dealing with the effects of racism to educate you. Educate yourself. There are many books, articles, magazines, movies and other resources.
  10. Be active, not passive. Interrupt racism as soon as you hear it. Even if it doesn’t offend you, if it offends your black friend, just say something to the other person that makes them uncomfortable and makes them think.

I wanted to pass this information along, since I had wanted to know the answer to the question, “What should I do to be an ally?” and there may be others who had that same question.


Melinda Nielsen