Black History Month: a guide for allies

Team Pride Worldwide would like to wish you a happy Black History Month. 

Black History Month is a month to celebrate the achievements and leaders of the Black community. What began in 1915 as a week of sharing history, organizing celebrations, and hosting performances, has turned into a worldwide month of awareness and action.

As a transgender and queer operated business, we know that our organization's very existence would not have been possible without Black thought leaders and activists paving the way. We owe everything to icons like Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, Phill Wilson, and so many more. 

To start this month, we wanted to create a quick guide for non-black allies to most effectively engage with and support the Black community. 

This list is not exhaustive. Remember that we are all always unlearning racism and we must work together continuously to disassemble systems of oppression. 

While we have so many Black leaders and icons to look up to and cherish, racism plays a key role in the disenfranchisement of many transgender and queer people. 

Dismantling racist and anti-black prejudices within our community starts with you. And luckily, there are many accessible ways to be an ally. 

Don’t expect Black people to educate you. 

Black History Month is not an invitation from Black people to personally educate you. While you may have good intentions for questions that you have, the expectation that all Black people should stop what they are doing to educate you is harmful. 

Whether you're thinking of asking a friend, coworker, or influencer online, remember that they are not your help booklet. As an ally, it is your responsibility to educate yourself. And often, there are more than enough resources for you to get started on your own. 

Recognize and use your privilege. 

A central component to being an ally, of any kind, is the recognition of the privileges you have. Intersectional activism can only be pursued by the thorough examination of your proximity to whiteness, cisness, and perceived ability. 

Here are some quick ways you can amplify the voices of Black people around you:

  • Share Black art, literature, posts, and pages 
  • Always be aware of how your white/non-black privilege is affecting real-time events and speak out about it 
  • Call out and reject racism anytime you see it or hear it 
  • Listen if you get called out and work to do better in the future

All of these steps will serve to even out the playing field. 

Don’t make this about you.

Comparing racism to struggles you’ve experienced in your personal life may be a well-intended attempt at empathy, however conversationally this prioritizes your struggles over racial discrimination. This also attempts to put the severity of systemic racism on the same scale as personal problems. 

Additionally, as you learn about the historic and ongoing struggles of the Black community, remember that it's not an opportunity to share your feelings of guilt. Black spaces need to be centered on the liberation of Black people, not the hurt feelings of white/non-black people. 

And, remember, working on your own internalized racism and speaking out against racism is not a favor to Black people. 

Being an ally is a thought out and consistent set of behaviors to dismantle our discriminatory belief systems.

Challenge racist comments and ideologies within your own home and communities.

In these social situations, you hold privilege and power.

You must have these difficult conversations on race and racial inequality with the ones you love and other non-black people in your life. You must initiate these conversations with other non-black people so that race isn’t a topic that is only addressed when a black person brings it up, or after a black person has been persecuted.

Be proactive when witnessing any form of racism, even if someone is not being directly harmed by it at the moment. 

Make your allyship intersectional.

The erasure of Black trans people and Black women throughout history and in modern movements is just one area where patriarchy and white supremacy intersect. 

To counteract this, it’s important to name this violence specifically and center those who are most marginalized. 

This means supporting organizations that serve these more marginalized demographics and learning about the unique struggles that they face. 

Avoid sharing content that is traumatic/triggering.

Regardless of your intentions, sharing videos and images of Black people being abused and murdered can be triggering for many Black people to see. Often, images of violence against Black people are shared without any thought to the traumatization it can cause and reinforce. 

Can you imagine how you would feel to watch people who look like you get beat, yelled at, or even murdered all over social media? 

While it is important to share stories of injustice to hold people and institutions accountable, consider if it is necessary for you to share. And, if it is, are you also sharing as many stories of success, joy, and helpful resources? 

Stop supporting organizations that promote hate or fund white-supremacist and hateful organizations. 

Instead, support black businesses. Part of tearing down those hateful organizations, specifically in an economic sense, is putting your money where your mouth is because how you spend your money is political.

By supporting more Black-owned companies, you can help create more opportunities for meaningful savings, property ownership, credit building, and generational wealth for black communities.

We all want the world to be a better place. But it takes each of us, working diligently every day, to create and uphold equality. 

Throughout all of Black History Month, we will be celebrating Black icons within the transgender and queer community as well as sharing Black businesses, resources, and ways for allies to support them. 

 

Simon Bellamy he/him
Writer | Content Creator
blrbellamy123@gmail.com

 

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