Meet Anti-Racism Writer, Allison Gaines
And learn how she's using writing to uncover hidden inequities to bring about change
If you’ve been reading this newsletter from the start, you’ll know that I’ve shared articles by Allison Gaines before. Some of my favorite articles of hers focus on the experience of Black women in particular, but she’s also published well researched pieces on public health issues for BIPOC. Please meet Allison.
1) Allison, what made you become an anti-racism writer?
As a young girl, I started working with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) alongside my mother. This organization, founded by Martin Luther King, Jr., inspired me to advocate for myself and Black people in our community.
As I grew, I saw my little brother become racially profiled and lost a classmate to the police shooting him. Along with many of my friends, I became a victim of police brutality. It seemed we would never know peace in a country that dismisses our humanity.
Living in the south, we receive hostility and suffer from many micro and macro aggressions. With my writing, I wanted to address the inequities so often left out of the national conversation. I understood that I needed to start recording my ideas, thoughts, and feelings to bring about a cultural change.
2) What response have you had?
Writing about race has its ups and downs. Some people offered unequivocal support, while others condemned my actions and admonished me personally. As an anti-racist writer, I expect opposition. In that respect, I am willing to deal with the negativity because I believe in exposing injustices.
3) In relation to racism, what is your vision for the future?
My vision for the future encompasses direct actions. Too often, Black people get a pat on the back when they need someone to reach out a hand to lift them out of oppression.
I am committed to fighting for restorative justice for ADOS (African Descendants of Slaves) and Indigenous people who colonists disenfranchised. Our reparations should provide a formal apology from governments who benefited from slave labor. In addition to financial compensation, we should implement anti-racist policies in the criminal justice system, healthcare, education, and the private sector. Our community needs to apply a holistic approach.
In the aftermath of George Floyd's death, I founded an organization called "Justice Can't Wait." Our goal is to provide necessary services to the community, fight against state-sanctioned violence, and expose acts of racism by extremist groups.
4) What are your top three anti-racism articles you have written?
Why Your Perception of Martin Luther King Jr is Smoke and Mirrors: For years, moderates and racists used MLK Jr's words against young activists' enthusiastic journey towards Justice. I wrote this article to blow the smoke away so we can perceive his real message. He valued racial equality over beloved peace.
Shine A Light on Injustice: As a young, Black independent journalist, I felt moved by the life and work of Ida B. Wells. She became a prominent anti-lynching advocate, exposing the uncomfortable injustices that characterized her lifetime. This article assesses the presence of lynching in modern American culture as a method for dehumanization. Modern Civil Rights Advocates view the deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery as modern ay lynchings.
We Don't Need to Aspire to European Beauty Standards: Black women live in a society that views their appearance as inconsistent with European beauty standards. Culture inundates us with Europeanized perceptions of beauty. Beauty is a powerful tool for women, which people often dismiss as fickle. It is essential to counter these harmful standards that discriminate against women with darker complexions, particularly when they wear natural hairstyles.
5) Share one anti-racism article you've read written by someone else that resonated with you.
Marley K's Yes My Dear, All White People Are Racist spoke to me. Even I had previously been in a state of denial about the prevalence of racism before reading this piece. Even well-meaning white people benefit from white privilege. Like her, I am also ready to move on from white-denial, which hinders progress.
Thanks for reading,
Sharon Hurley Hall