Allyship in Black History - Why You Should Attend

From a workshop participant---

Thanks for the kind words!

MAR convo (“Allyship in Black History”)spurred meaningful growth for the participants. Because MAR is a courageous space, being in virtual proximity to other MARs strengthened my courage and renewed my focus and motivation to work toward goals that produce concrete community change. This week’s discussion in particular helped me shore up my personal understanding of what it means to be an ally. Lifting up Eleanor Roosevelt as an exemplary White ally not only gave me a role model but also provided real examples of ways I can leverage privilege to amplify BIPOC voices and bolster anti-racist initiatives without letting it become about me.

Another thing from the event that I found useful was the distinction between calling someone IN versus calling someone OUT. To quote a graphic shared, “When working through disagreements and challenges in MAR, we strive to call IN, not OUT. It’s crucial that, as an ally, you do not check out when you are called in.” To me, it’s a useful distinction in two ways. First, even when I’m doing my best to listen, learn, and convert that learning into action, I know I will mess up. I’ll say the wrong thing. I’ll step where I shouldn’t step. But knowing that it’s a core value of MAR to call me IN (rather than calling me out) means I can trust that when I mess up, people will tell me what I can do better, and they’ll do it with the purpose of helping rather than shaming.

Simultaneously, the distinction sets up an expectation that I will do the same in my own spheres of influence. That is, if I’m in a White space in which someone says something racist or harmful, I can and must hold myself to MAR’s standards and call that person IN. In other words, rather than calling OUT (shaming, accusing, or dehumanizing), and rather than getting personal, I can focus more on ideas, remain mindful of our shared humanity, try to be productive and educational, and help sustain inclusion. I don’t have to have statistics and historical talking points ready on all possible topics of conversation; rather, I can simply respond to questionable statements with my own questions (e.g., “What did you mean by that?”), teasing out the speaker’s biases and clarifying their points in such a way that I can use it as a springboard to present a more inclusive and justice-centered perspective.

I could go on and on about the useful nuggets of wisdom, but I’ll just sum up by saying that the event helped equip me for the work ahead, and I’m very much looking forward to next week’s conversation, too!

- MAR, Lydia Ingram

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