I recently hosted a meeting of the allies group I run. As I looked around the screen, I noticed that a few faces were missing. It was especially annoying as we had a special guest in to help members of the group learn and grow by hearing another person's lived experience. (In case you’re interested, it was Ellen Wagner of Cross Cultural Bridges and she was AWESOME!)
But aside from my initial reaction, it got me to thinking of the short time between people declaring themselves allies and being all in and failing to turn up or even, in some cases, let me know.
The group has been running for just over a year, which in my opinion is way too short a time for truly committed allies or antiracists to run out of steam.
I've said before, and will no doubt say again, that being in an allies group is not about cookies. It's not about badges. It signals a commitment and intention to do some work to fight racism.
And the first part of honoring that commitment is to show up every time there is a meeting.
That means it's the FIRST thing that goes in your calendar, not the last. It should be a non-optional appointment with your own growth.
Look, life happens. I get unforeseen circumstances. I get illness or bereavement. Outside of that, there's no excuse.
Some people show up even when they have issues that make it difficult. I see you, and I appreciate your consistency.
For the others, here's what I think:
If you can't be bothered to show up every month, can you really call yourself an ally? (Not that you should anyway, but that's another issue.)
It makes me question whether you are showing up consistently against racism in your daily life.
Or whether you are taking the labor of your Black and Brown facilitators for granted (there's a historical precedent for that, and it isn't pretty).
Or whether antiracism is just something you fit in where you can.
If that's the case, then your white privilege is showing. Big time.
Because Black and Brown people don't get a choice.
We are visible, always.
And we don't get to not show up to our commitments without unlocking a Pandora's Box of stereotypes.
If you're serious about doing the work, you will show up too.
See, I can always tell who's serious about their antiracism work.
Those are the people that find a way to participate despite what's happening in their lives.
Those are the people that will change jobs to find companies in line with their values.
Those are the people that post publicly and regularly about racism and antiracism even though they may lose friends and followers.
And that journey starts with showing up.
Would-be allies, that's really the least you can do.
Thanks for reading my perspective.
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Cover photo courtesy of Canva.