10 Ways to Be An Ally Against Racial Injustice
In light of recent racist attacks around the US and the world, we recognize the importance of challenging racial injustice as we stand side by side in the fight against systemic racism and domestic violence. This violence is not happening to other people…it is happening to all of us.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Without further ado, here are 10 everyday ways that you can fight racism in your community:
1. Learn and understand your privilege
One of the first steps to eliminating racial discrimination is to check and understand your own privilege. Why? Because a life unaided by privilege can be frustrating, and dangerous. Racial privilege plays out across social, political, economic, and cultural environments. Recognizing your privilege and using your privilege to dismantle systemic racism are two ways to begin this complex process.
It is not nice to be treated differently due to something one has no control over. Tapping into that empathy can help you to become a better ally. “Check your privilege” simply means to realize that you may not truly understand a marginalized group’s experience — and to take time to educate yourself on their struggles.
2. Look within: examine your own biases
What messages did you receive as a kid about people who are different from you? What were you taught about race and culture? What was the racial and/or ethnic make-up of your neighborhood, school, or religious community? Why do you think that was the case?
These experiences produce and reinforce biases, stereotypes, and prejudice, which can lead to discrimination. Examining our own biases and limitations can help anti-bias work in our community to ensure racial equality and social justice for all.
3. Validate the experiences and feelings of people of color
What can you do to support POC (people of color) in your community? One way to address biases is to support the feelings of marginalized groups and engage in tough conversations about race and injustice. The best way to understand racial injustice is by listening to people of color, only then we can educate ourselves on the oppressive and dehumanizing conditions people of color constantly navigate through in their everyday environment.
We cannot be afraid to discuss oppression, racial injustice, or exclusion for fear of “getting it wrong.” Take action by learning about the ways racism continues to affect our society.
4. Dispute the colorblind ideology
It is a pervasive myth that we live in a “post-racial” society where people don’t see color, whereby there is a denial of racial differences by emphasizing sameness and denial of racism by pushing the belief that everyone has equal opportunities. Perpetuating a “colorblind” ideology actually contributes to a racial hierarchy.
It is impossible to eliminate racism without first acknowledging race. Being “colorblind” ignores a significant part of a person’s identity and dismisses the real injustices that many people face because of their race. We must see color in order to work together for inclusion, justice, and equality.
5. Confront problematic views that are normalized
It’s easy to let problematic comments slide when it comes to friends or family at home, but these only feed into the normalization of those views. Let people know that racist comments and jerky behaviors are not funny.
Do not be afraid to engage in conversations with loved ones, co-workers, family, and friends. Racial microaggressions, which can appear in common daily verbal and behavioral communications in the form of jokes or statements, help perpetuate and normalize biases and prejudices. Remember that silence — or laughing along — is a dangerous problem in racial inequality, but are we complicit?
6. Check-in on your colleagues and friends of color
People aren’t always as “okay” as we present ourselves to be. People of color are not expected to deal with police brutality, racism, discrimination, and keep strong at all times. This is a very traumatic and difficult time for the racial and ethnic minority communities.
That’s why checking in on the mental health of those you care about is a particularly important step right now, in addition to public displays of solidarity, making donations, signing petitions, or any of the other crucial anti-racism work you may be engaging in. Show that you care! A little kindness goes a long way.
7. Further your knowledge
Systemic racism means that there are barriers — including wealth disparities, criminal justice bias, and education and housing discrimination — that stack the deck against people of color in the workplace or at school. It is important for us to address these issues and promote a culture of equity.
Here are some books to read to educate yourself about anti-racism and race:
- Black Feminist Thought — Patricia Hill Collins
- Me And White Supremacy — Layla F Saad
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism — Robin Diangelo
- The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America — Richard Rothstein
- So You Want to Talk About Race — Ijeoma Oluo
- How To Be An Anti-Racist — Ibram X. Kendi
8. Acknowledge the problem in our community
We have to realize the unconscious bias of anti-black does exist in our communities. Don’t turn a blind eye to it. Fair skin is often regarded as a beauty ideal in many parts of the world including Malaysia, but who said dark skin tones cannot celebrate beauty?
Think about who you support. Stop supporting organizations that promote colorism. Fair representation in the beauty industry also matters. Be the change. It starts with YOU.
9. Take a stand locally
Bring the voices of the marginalized to your living rooms, classrooms, lecture halls, places of worship, flats, community centers, or theatres to hold lively discussions and inspire action to promote human rights! Take a stand by supporting the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) and KOMAS.
These organizations are important to push for changes in the law to support people of color, indigenous peoples, urban poor, workers, and civil society organizations, as well as developing and distributing educational resources, training, documentation, workshops, and much more.
10. Put intersectionality into practice
Remember that all forms of oppression are connected. You cannot fight against one form of injustice and not fight against others. Officers or law enforcers need to be trained with an intersectional approach to have a better understanding of how to develop tailor-made risk management strategies in a non-discriminatory manner.
We all deserve to have our voices heard, and our unique needs addressed through relevant policies. However, when we fail to incorporate intersectionality into our everyday practices and policies, we leave parts of our communities behind. Many survivors of domestic violence also face racism and other forms of oppression. We must recognize the systemic discrimination that blocks people from realizing an equal opportunity.
Our fundamental humanity is shared no matter the household, neighborhood, environment, or country in which we are born. No matter how uncomfortable it can get, we can help eliminate racism and advocate for justice in our community. Let us stand together with our community and for those whom we love, care, learn, and work alongside. DO your part!