In the last month, MEDIAGIRLS ran our Anti-Racism Workshop: “How Can Girls Help Take Down Racism with Instagram and TikTok?” We were flooded with questions at the end of the workshop, which we ran twice, and were not able to answer all of them due to time constraints. But the questions were thoughtful and important, and we are addressing them in a two-part series on our blog (yesterday we published Part 1). We appreciate you seeking more information so you can step up in your activism and below our Education Outreach Manager Amanda Mozea shares her insights and observations. For this final part of answering your questions, we will address one central issue: How you can be the strongest ally possible?
I want students of color at my school to know that I am an ally, especially now that I’ve seen firsthand racism there. Do I announce I’m on their side? How can I be an ally to these students?
If you’re asking this question, you have already completed the first step: recognizing that there is a problem and wanting to be a part of the solution. Using your platform to amplify and share these stories of racism so that they can reach a wider audience and have a greater impact is one of the best ways to be an ally alongside these students. These stories had an impact on you so sharing them will have an impact on your friends and followers!
But, don’t stop there. Sharing is just one step. If there are follow-up steps to bring issues of racism to the attention of the school’s administration be a part of those steps! This could look like participating in a march or signing an open letter or emailing the heads of the school to demand that changes be made. Being an ally alongside the students of color at your school means being there with them every step of the way. It’s hard work, but it is important and necessary, too!
How can I be an ally in the workplace? Is there a way I can signal to my Black co-workers that I am an ally?
This is a great question and one that is so incredibly important because a lot of people misunderstand what it means to be an ally. Being an ally is not just supporting your Black co-worker(s) directly or signaling to them that you care about their mental and physical well-being. That is companionship and basic human decency, but it is not allyship. Being an ally is taking actions to turn those signals of valuing your Black co-worker into structural change.
Allyship can take many forms and if you don’t know where to start, a conversation is always your best bet. Not a conversation with your Black co-worker(s), a conversation with people within your organization who have the power to make change. This could be a conversation about why there are not more people of color in the office. This could be a conversation about how your organization can support more Black-owned or anti-racist businesses and non-profits. This could be a conversation about why there are not more Black in leadership positions or why Black employees are not promoted at the speed that their non-Black colleagues are. Too often, these conversations fall to those who are most directly impacted by them: Black people. Allyship in the workplace is removing the burden of those conversations from Black people.
Allyship is a muscle that you have to keep building through constant use. Allyship requires constantly checking yourself and your implicit, hidden biases. Allyship is decentralizing yourself and your feelings and centering the well-being of your Black colleagues. Allyship requires tough conversations and self-education. Allyship is wading into the messy fight against racism alongside Black people. It is hard, but rewarding and absolutely necessary work.
Amanda Mozea is the Education Outreach Manager of MEDIAGIRLS. She graduated from Harvard College, where she concentrated in Social Studies with a focus field titled “Racial Inequality in Contemporary America” and a secondary in Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights. Throughout college, Amanda mentored young girls in Boston’s South End through the program Strong Women Strong Girls. Amanda is a firm believer in the power of media to enact change. While a student at Harvard, Amanda created a multiracial student photo gallery to bring attention to Harvard’s lack of institutional support for multiracial students. The gallery has expanded into the website: http://we-are-other.com. In addition to her zeal for female empowerment and media studies, Amanda is an avid fan of the Blues, travel, and food from all corners of the globe. You can contact Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like this post? Check out Part 1 and 2 of this series!