The events of Charlottesville and Seattle have left many reeling. While the hatred, racism, and anti-Semitism shown from white supremacists and Nazis is — sadly — nothing new, many who have not directly been impacted are finding themselves at a loss, especially now that these groups feel more emboldened as a result of Trump not placing the full blame where it belongs (even as members of the GOP condemn his remarks).
So, what can we do? What can folks who want to help, and want to make a difference, do? We turned to our favorite folks, some who have been working on these issues for years, to ask them how allies can step up. We wanted to know:
What are some tangible things folks who consider themselves allies can do in the fight against rising white supremacy?
Alex Blank Millard: “Fight white supremacy by talking to the white people among your friends and family. Use your privilege to talk to fellow white people about racism, micro-aggressions, systemic oppression. Make a plan for how you as a group can work on not oppressing others, and beyond that, how you will fight for others.
Listen to and amplify the voices of those being attacked by oppressors. Use your platforms, and use your money. Trust Black women to tell you how to best help. Subscribe to Safety Pin Box, for example. Most importantly, do not center yourself. This is our responsibility, not a moment for pointing out that you are one of the good white people or seeking praise.“
Naseem Jamnia: “Begin by supporting marginalized people monetarily. Frequent Muslim- and Black-owned businesses for example. Find some new people on Patreon. There are plenty of us there who are resisting through our art. Even a $1/month helps us — really! If you can’t contribute a lot, take five-ten people and give them each $1/month. Focus especially on paying Black women, who are the leaders in these fights and are always under-recognized. Safety Pin Box, for instance, is run by Black women and gives you monthly, concrete steps to follow. Give to grassroots organizations instead of big national ones to make sure you money goes to specific areas. (Also because the ACLU is defending white supremacy in the name of free speech, which is par for the course.) Read articles by marginalized writers (especially Black writers!!) about this. Then, have those conversations with your family and friends, even though you KNOW they’re fruitless. Cut ties. Take an active stand within your community that way, if nothing else. If you’re not willing to do that for us, what happens when they come for you and we’re already gone?“
Stephanie Kaloi: “Here are a few of my preferred modes of activism, which you can probably find where you live, too:
— Donations. It sounds obvious, but donating is one of the best ways that people who don’t have the time, schedule, or will to march and rally can make their opinions known. I know people who make monthly contributions to the ACLU and their local public radio station, which is really cool. You can also set up recurring donations to organizations you’ve probably heard of: the Southern Law Poverty Center, Black Lives Matter, and more.
— Go outside your comfort zone. I live in the Bay Area, where it is outrageously easy to find actions and rallies to attend almost any day of the week. I have recently started utilizing Facebook events to do so, and by searching under a few categories (usually ‘Causes’) and on days when I know I’m free, I’m now planning to attend a few upcoming political actions that I might have never known about (like supporting the family of a juvenile defendant, or protesting the removal of a Mexican family from their homes).
— Take your kids. I know, I know, it’s scary. Especially when people are getting hit by cars and maced. But a friend recently pointed out that members of marginalized groups also have kids, and they still show up at rallies and take their kids because they don’t have a choice, and I realized how easy I’ve had it, and what a privilege it is to be able to say, ‘Oh, I can’t attend that because no one else will be home with my kid, and you know how protests can go…’ I mean, am I totally scared at protests and rallies? Yes. But should that stop me from standing up for others? No.
— Political action and activism is about a lot of issues. I think a lot of us tend to forget that meaningful political action happens all the time, over a variety of issues. Standing up for rights for seniors is huge, and something that a lot of people do. Working data entry for an organization that helps victims of sex trafficking? That’s mega. Dropping off Meals on Wheels deliveries is also political work, and all of it makes a difference in the lives of other people.“
Avital Norman Nathman: “Posting on Facebook is all well and good, but we need folks to do more than that. Show up and stand up for the folks who are at the targets of this hate. Call out your friends, family, co-workers or neighbors who either have views that align with these white supremacists or somehow have sympathy for them. Listen to folks on the ground when they tell you what you can do and what they need. Also, please, please, please, check in with your Black friends, other friends of color, LGBTQ friends, and Jewish friends. These types of rallies or events can have a very real psychological impact, and the aftermath is no joke. Do what you can to help support these friends while also doing the very real work of dismantling white supremacy.”
Julie Schwietert Collazo: “10 things white folks can do right now:
- Look up (or organize!) your nearest in-the-streets vigil or anti-white supremacy march/protest. Then, show up.
- Have a talk with yourself and your partner, if applicable, about your willingness to use your literal body in protest- Are you willing to be arrested? If so, plan for this. This is not as scary as it sounds, I promise, and it is an important strategy. I have personally been arrested for civil disobedience: the reward was far greater than the risk. I am willing to do this again, even though I have kids. You must know what this involves and have a plan, however.
- If you can’t or won’t show up in the street, offer to watch the kids of someone who wants to be there.
- Read more. Particularly Black and marginalized histories. Fill in the gaps in your knowledge (we all have them! I definitely do).
- Look at local elections. What positions and offices are up in your district over the next year? Who’s running for them? From school board to state Senate, educate yourself about local elections. Donate to progressive candidates if you can. Phone bank. Canvass. Volunteer. Promote your candidates on social media. VOTE.
- Keep speaking up and out. It’s easy to fall silent, especially in situations that seem so utterly absurd, but don’t. Keep using your voice. Keep explaining what the First Amendment really means.
- Use the power of the purse. Be a more educated consumer. Don’t spend money with companies/CEOs who support Trump/racism/anti-Semitism or those, like Johnson & Johnson, that still want to “give him a chance.” Support Black businesses, small and local biz, etc. Yes, this takes effort. But you’ve got this.
- Understand that there is no quick fix, so stop expecting change to happen after a major march or some other big collective action. The problems that led to Trump et al have been centuries in the making. We’re not going to undo them in a snap. It requires consistent, steady, difficult work. You’ve got to understand this and decide you’re in for the long haul.
- Hold your clergy accountable. If you’re religious, ask your pastor/rabbi/etc to speak to the current moment if they’re not already doing so. If you need models/resources, I highly recommend the sermons of Rev Stephen Baumann of Christ Church NYC (sermons available on the church website) and my friend, Rev. Emily C. Heath (whose sermons are also available online).
- Listen more. Hold spaces open for friends of color who feel terrorized and terrified by this moment to talk. Think more carefully about your own speech. Think about what you share and what has most impact – for better and worse. Look for ways to create meaningful action for friends and loved ones who are less likely to be ‘political.’“
Mayim Bialik: “I know there are so many organizations mentioned here which help combat Nazism and white supremacy. Educating children to not avoid these issues is also crucial. It’s painful to explain the KKK to children. It’s horrendous to explain Charlottesville. But they need to know so that they have information to work from when they go out into the world. In age appropriate ways, we have to not shy away from speaking these words to the next generation.“