R., hi there. Lest there be any confusion about my own personal stance on the matter, let me be clear: there’s enough racism (systemic, institutionalized, personal experiences with, etc.) out there for everyone to address. All voices are needed, but no one should be so bold as to speak as, drown out, or supercede the voices of black Americans.
This may be a bad analogy, but it’s the only one I have.
Let’s say I know a lot about Chinese culture (which, for the record, I do not). I may love the Chinese people, their culture, art, history, language, food, etc. While I may sympathize with their suffering under an unjust regime, I can’t speak for them. I can arouse awareness of their plight and the injustices they endure, but I can not nor should I attempt to be the tip of the spear for them in their battles. And I definitely should not lead a charge that drowns out their voices. I hope I can come alongside them and support their efforts, but I have to remember that it’s never about me as a non-Chinese person. The focus should always be placed on the injustices the Chinese are subjected to, those who perpetrate those injustices, and lending support to the Chinese in correcting the situation.
If you’re at a social gathering, and encounter those who are espousing racist beliefs, if you’re moved to speak up, by all means do so.
What white people need to remember the following (and this is only my opinion)—
- There is no hard and fast rule about lending support. Be mindful of the situation/setting in which they wish to lend support and respect the dignity the black people they’re dealing with or speaking about.
- No one can speak about the black experience with greater veracity and authority than black people.
- People of color are not a monolith. We all don’t with the same beliefs about racism and “ally-ship”. (Yes, I made that word up. I think.) Some people would welcome an assist in one setting and that same person might not in another. Then there are people who feel that the only circumstance that warrant them explaining racism to a non-person of color is if that person has just landed on planet earth, and even still they are not obligated to give a discourse on the matter. Both ends of the spectrum are valid, as is everything in between.
- Any questions, see #1.
I hope this unsolicited opinion helps. And remember, it’s only my opinion.