Moving from Allyship to Solidarity Actions Look Like

By Heidi Schillinger

Editor’s Note: Originally the blog was planning on taking the week off, but Heidi came in clutch and sent in this blog post. The blog is off for a few weeks, unless we get another guest post or I have a burning desire to write. See you in mid-late July. -erin

Graphic of Moving from Allyship to Solidarity. Text of the graphic is in the post below. Copyright Heidi Schillinger, Equity Matters

Over the past month, I have received a high volume of inquiries for racial equity support. As non-Black person of color, specifically Asian, I have been reflecting on what it means to support individuals and organizations right now. How do I justly respond to an increased interest in our racial equity consulting services due to the amplified attention to systemic racism because of the continued death and murder of Black people? I have been sitting with this question. And, trying not to just react without first considering my role during this moment in the movement for Black Liberation. 

One thing I know is, this is the time for me to follow the lead of Black people, specifically Black women. I like lists and I have been collecting articles by journalists of color reporting on COVID-19 since March, and then begin collecting articles by Black journalists covering the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Manuel Ellis, and too many more.

In this long collection of articles, I noticed there are so many Black writers offering concrete actions for white people (and non-Black POC) who want to be allies. Lucky for us because this is a lot of continued Black labor. Compensate Black folks for their labor. If you appreciate the graphic or this blog post, please donate to Black journalists and artists. If you can’t think of any to support, I recommend Converge Media, South Seattle Emerald, Wear Your Voice, Wa Na Wari, Blavity, Black Youth Project, Crutches and Spice, and the Octavia’s Parables Podcast.

The action ideas here are based on 20 articles specifically on “allyship.” All the articles are written by Black authors, and it appears around 75% of the authors are Black women. I counted 142 specific action idea suggestions and noticed some clear themes emerge. After a few long bike rides and the latest episodes of the All My Relations Podcast (Native American), here are the four themes I want to center myself around. If you feel so inclined, join me in making these actions a daily practice.

Why am I here?

First things first, “allyship” frames our work as a solo act, when this is about joining a movement. Remember, we are joining a long Black-led movement striving for Black Liberation. This is why we are here. To paraphrase author Ibram Kendi: If you are only here because of guilt, once you do something to relieve that guilt are you done? We need to frame our work here as being in solidarity with a larger movement. Follow collective Black leadership.

Healing from White Supremacy

How do we continue to heal from white supremacy? As an international transracial adoptee, healing from white supremacy is familiar to me. I spent most of my 20’s, healing from narratives that I swallowed but poisoned my soul; Just be American. You’re so lucky to have been adopted to the U.S. If you were still in Korea, you’d be an orphan. You aren’t really Korean. Returning to Korea – especially where I was born and my life fractured – where it became something different. That has been part of my healing. Without that piece of healing, I do not know if I would be in position to repair, follow, and act. I know I need to continue to heal. I know as a community we need to continue to heal. I know we need to support spaces where Black folks can heal without the gaze of whiteness and non-Black people of color.

Here are four suggestions from the articles to support our healing process. Yes, this is purposely written in the present continuous tense. Because, hey, this work is continuous, not a one-time action. We need to continuously engage in –

  • Learning Black and Native History; Including Abolition Efforts 
  • Learning About Colonization & Systemic Racism
  • Learning about Our Personal Racialization Processes
  • Tapping into Creativity, Hope, Joy, Self-Care, Community Care

Repairing from the Harm of Anti-Blackness.

If you are looking for a new podcast, I highly recommend Octavia’s Parables. It is full of deep questions. Questions that make you stop moving, so your whole body can decide how it wants to answer. One of the questions from the second episode I am still thinking about is – what am I willing to let go of? What am I willing to let go of to repair from the harm of anti-Blackness? I keep asking myself this question. 

How do I look at the ideas I have consumed and bought into and how they manifest anti-Blackness? One example is my love for crime shows. Both embarrassing and true. I used to watch marathon episodes of Law and Order SVU. Mariska Hargitay, Mariska Hargitay. And, more recently true crime podcasts are my default filler podcasts. A month ago, as I thought about how I engage in repairing from the harm of anti-Blackness, I realized I have to give up listening to true crime. Goodbye, Dateline. Goodbye, Crime Junkies. I cannot continue to consume anti-Black and pro law enforcement narratives. Damn this is hard. I am realizing how internalized anti-Blackness is to what I am interested in and what I feed into. I need to do better. I am committed to reading and listening to more fiction by Black and Native authors and spending time with those I love, including my demanding but darling puppy.

Here are four suggestions from the articles to support repairing from the harm of anti-Blackness. We need to continuously engage in –

  • Acknowledging Anti-Blackness; Be Wrong & Genuinely Apologize
  • Unlearning Anti-Blackness; Work to Be In ‘Just Relationships’
  • Honoring Black Grief, Rage, Labor, Joy, Healing, Dreaming
  • Supporting Reparations; Individual, Organizational, National

If you balk at reparations, you need to dig deeper into the layers of white supremacy and anti-Blackness that are enveloping your consciousness. This place we now call the United States of America was built on 10-12 generations of enslavement and 4 generations of legal segregation of Black people (in comparison there have only been about 3 generations of “freedom”). To even begin to repair from generations of stolen labor and stolen lives, we need to acknowledge and compensate Black people. And, yes, our country was also built on the colonization of Indigenous Peoples. We need to be talking about what we owe Indigenous Peoples as well. If you are in Seattle, are you paying Real Rent to the Duwamish Tribe? If you live in other places, learn about the Indigenous people whose lands you are on and make restitution.

I spent a lot of time focused on healing and repair because I believe they are foundational to guiding our actions and staying in alignment with Black-led collective demands. If you want to argue against reparations or abolition, are you really here for Black Liberation or do you want to cherry pick ideas and actions that allow you to stay comfortable. In Seattle standing in solidarity with Black collective leadership demands: “Defund SPD. Invest in community health and safety. Drop all charges against protesters.” This is not about you, or me.

Here are the final two themes and actions suggestions to move us from allyship to solidarity.

Following Intersectional Black Womxn (P.S. Black Trans Womxn are Womxn)

  • Listening to and Trusting Black Voices & Perspectives
  • Amplifying Black Voices & Perspectives; Not White Saviors
  • Participating in Black-Led Collective Actions; Know Our Roles
  • Centering Black-Led Collective Demands; Decenter Ourselves

Acting in Solidarity with Black Communities’ Demands

  • Committing to Ongoing Action; Join the Movement, Not the Moment
  • Speaking Up (But Not Over); Engage Our Communities
  • Resourcing Black Liberation; Black Businesses, Efforts, Orgs.
  • Paying Reparations; Redistribute and Reinvest Resources

Here are some of my organizational commitments to action –

  • Offer the first opportunity to take on new inquiries to the two fabulous Black women on our team, CiKeithia Pugh (she/her/hers) and Chalon Ervin (she/her/hers).
  • Refer training inquiries to Black womxn and non-binary consultants taking on new clients. We are currently referring people to ChrisTiana ObeySumner (They/Them/Theirs/Mx.) and Ti’esh Harper (she/her/hers) [9/1/20 note: Ti’esh is currently not accepting new clients]. Please email me if you would like to be added to our Black womxn and non-binary consultant referral list.
    EDIT: Here is a national list of Black Owned DEI Companies + Consultants Currently Accepting New Corporate Clients, much thanks to the keepers of this list for sharing it publicly.
  • Require organizations requesting “Allyship” workshops for White and non-Black POC staff to offer Black employees opportunities and resources to engage in Black centered spaces (through things like time off, funds to participate in other community events or workshops, etc.).
  • Pay forward 50% of all fees for any “Allyship” workshop to Black collective organizations and efforts.
  • Continue to purchase nearly all of my books from Mahogany Books.
  • Continue to pay forward the profit from the Color Brave Space licensing to Black and Indigenous organizations and efforts.
  • Write this blog post and other blog posts.

Many thanks to Victoria Benson, from Movement Strategy Center, for sending me notes from our recent conversation for this blog post.

Thank you for your Patreon support: This month we’ll be paying a portion of the support forward to POC led and embedded organizations and individuals directly impacted by COVID19 and Black led organizations.

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