While being an Ally, don’t forget to be a friend
I checked in with my coworker today. She is also African-American. She and I aren’t friends, just coworkers. But in light of the too-frequent murders of black people by police officers lately, I thought it was a good idea to reach out. And it was. We both felt good having someone in our workplace to talk to about our current states of fear, anger, and exhaustion.
I posted on Facebook that I was going to take a break from it and that I am reachable by phone and email.
My friend Mary called me. I burst into tears at the sound of her voice. It’s one thing to repost things on social media or to hit the “like” button or to protest and go to social justice meetings and to donate time and money. Yes, #BLACKLIVESMATTER and I appreciate your sentiment and label of Ally.
But have you actually reached out to your black friends? Have you called them? Emailed? Texted? Checked in on them specifically? A blanket “I’m here for you” status update is pretty empty.
I found that there was more outreach in my communities and friend-circles after the Orlando massacre. I guess we’re just so used to black people getting murdered by police that we are numb to the personal effects.
Reach out to the people of color in your life. Check in with them. Go out for coffee. Don’t get so caught up in being an Ally that you forget to be a friend.
Are you black? Check in on your other black people. Check in on your friends. Check in on your family. Text your brother. Call your dad.
I have had law enforcement in my family. My own father was a police officer. Check in on them too.
As for me, I’m doing the best I can. Tonight I am practicing self-care by reading my backlog of comic books. Tomorrow I’ll try to check in with more people but for tonight, I’m just going to disappear into some reading.