Hello, White Irish Person! Here's how to upgrade from being an ally, to being an accomplice

Married couple Áine and Ashley share some insights on how white people can go from being allies to accomplices in the fight against racism.

A black woman and a white woman wearing wedding dresses

Hello! I am Aine. I am a part-time blogger with my ten-week-old nonsensical blog called Koronakreep. Isn’t that very 2007 of me? I know! I’m trying to KEEP MY MELTING MIND OCCUPIED through this Covid crisis. Forgive me. I am here to discuss upgrading from an ally to an accomplice.

I also have a deadly wife. She encourages me to write my blog. Her mam was the one who suggested I do it, actually. (Hi Sheila!) They are incredible and very supportive. Wife is not too keen on writing herself. Hence I am here, platforming her platform and talking TO YOU about what we can do!

In the wake of the events of the last number of days I’ve watched her. I’ve looked on at the impact it’s had on her. Because my wife is a person of colour. I want to take any action I can to let her know that she is cherished and supported, and that I am with her. 

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Looking forward to a socially distant protest for #blacklivesmatter at the US embassy in Dublin today organised by black folk. Everyone within 5km of the embassy should be there. It's time us pale faced Irish people stood up for our people of colour. To extend the same kindness we have to queers and to women over the last number of years. It's time to #enddirectprovision. It's time to observe, listen and stand with people of colour. We are all one race. We all have the same beating hearts and desires and lives to live. We need to protect people from the senseless scrutiny, violation and violence that us white people are so absurdly fortunate not to be exposed to. This needs to end. There have been shifts and surges and changes over the years, but this change is loooong overdue and it is time. Please join us.

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I’ve noticed a lot of well meaning friends wanting to do the same. So, I asked her, what can we, us well meaning white people, do to upgrade from an ally to an accomplice? Even though she didn’t have to, (as we should all really be doing this by ourselves – see below), she agreed and wanted you to know her point of view. 

This is her perspective on what would be a meaningful response.

I’ll be popping in afterwards to tell you the don’ts. Because I AM SICK TO THE STOMACH seeing her sadness and exhaustion. And sometimes constructive criticism is beneficial for you. I’ve found it beneficial anyway.

The moment we started typing this piece, thunder rang out from the sky. Symbolic of a monumental piece of writing or coincidence? We’ll never know.

So, here is a list of recommendations from her on what you can do to be the accomplice (even better than an ally) she deserves:

  1. Believe your black and POC friends when they tell you of incidents of racism.

  2. Engage in self study. Your black friends are not black google, they don’t have all the answers for you. Research.

  3. If you see somebody or hear somebody being racially abused, stand up for them, call out the abuser.

  4. Have conversations with family and friends.

  5. Buy a copy of Emma Dabiri’s Don’t Touch my Hair. She is so smart and hardworking and Irish and black and her mam is lovely and provides my wife with all the dresses in the world. (These were her words. I am obsessed with her Mam’s dress shop. She owns Retro in George’s St Arcade)

  6. Do watch black made shows. We’ve all been consuming American media our entire lives. The representation of black people has been made by white people for white people. It has featured stereotypes we have to confront. None of us are immune to propaganda. Watch black movies and shows made by black people for black people. Black people aren’t just rappers, gangsters and athletes. Here’s some suggested shows: Atlanta, #BlackAF, Insecure, Twenties (that’s for your light hearted stuff).

  7. Listen to 2Pac, he’s been talking about this shit for years.

  8. Campaign your local representative about the for-profit prison system that is in our country. It is called Direct Provision. There is a simple form here that MASI created that will do all the work for you.

  9.  Ask yourself why it might suit the western agenda to continually dehumanise Africans and the African diaspora? Is it so that we can turn the other cheek without an ounce of guilt at the wilful and continued plundering of the African continent for all her natural resources?

And now I welcome me, Captain Constructive Criticism, here with a dose of reality on things I’ve observed people who try to be an ally saying or doing to my wife. These are things that an ally, or indeed an accomplice, definitely shouldn’t do.

  1. When a black person tells you where they’re from, accept their first answer. If this doesn’t satisfy you and you want to know why they’re not white, ask them ‘Why are you not white’? But OMG Karen you can’t just ask people why they’re not white!

  2. Do not touch someone’s hair, face, skin or anything, unless they WANT YOU TO. This is weird and something white people don’t do to each other in passing at a club or pub or shop or restaurant.

  3. Don’t assume someone is good at dancing or sport because of the colour of their skin and then say that to them. (My wife is a wonderfully bad dancer and I love her for it.)

  4. If you see something hopeful or good online that shows how anti-racist you are, don’t tag your only black friend in it. You are only tagging them because they are black. That is weird. Tag them if they are mentioned, or if it is a photo of them. Otherwise, don’t. Okay? Glad we had this talk.

  5. If you’ve started to realise now any shitty or thoughtless things you’ve said in the past which were casually racist, here is a top tip- DO NOT MESSAGE A PERSON OF COLOUR APOLOGISING ABOUT THE INCIDENT. This does two difficult things. One – it puts them in a position of having to respond, to absolve you from it. Two – it brings up said shitty thing you said, and you’re basically saying it to them all over again. Instead, have a think about what you said or did, and just do better in future. Ask yourself your motivation for contacting them directly about this. What did you expect from them? If you feel like you need to talk to someone about it, you are welcome to message me, a white person. Or the millions of other white people you know. Talk through it with that person instead. Make peace with it and move on.

  6. Don’t be irresponsible if protesting. Observe social distancing, wear a mask if you have it, try to stay in groups of four, and just be sound. I know you’re SO EXCITE to see your ally gaybies and lesbifriends. But think about the nervous people in the crowd, who really want to be there but also really want to stay safe.

  7. If you are being critical of protesters during Covid, I get it. Mass gatherings are so scary right now. But everyone is doing their best. Having arguments over who’s contribution is the most meaningful is not progress. Instead trust that people are all just trying to do their best to be supportive. We are all trying to move on from this to a better future. There has been plenty of bendy social distancing amongst us gays. But LOOK we’re all doing our very best, there is no prize for best social distancer in the world.

  8. Let’s just try be kinder. Yeah?

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