I was an “All Lives Matter” person. I didn’t understand how a group of people felt so highly of themselves that only their lives mattered. I thought to myself, “but all lives matter, not just one. People are equal and they should all be cared for.” Thank god I educated myself.
A brief rundown on what we mean when we say “Black Lives Matter” is this: POC are being shot at, fired, attacked, judged, discriminated against in workplaces, schools, even the damn grocery store. All because of the colour of their skin. When we say “Black Lives Matter,” we’re not saying only their life matters and no one else. We’re saying that this community is being attacked far more frequently than their white counterparts, and that is an issue that needs attention. You can’t say “All Lives Matter” until black lives start to matter to the government that was created to suppress them.
When I finally understood how saying “ALM” silenced the discrimination POC faced, I stopped and I tried to change. I tried to raise the voices of POC and their stories by writing. I wrote a poem that highlighted the different things they faced, and I thought that because I was asking and writing about first hand accounts, that I was being a good ally. But was I?
There’s two things to address in this piece. The first one, is the slur I unknowingly used. It’s a slur used against those of Pakistani decent, and those beyond in the South Asian regions. Although I was quoting from one of the stories sent to me, I still should have done research and took it out of the piece entirely.
The second one, is a white savior complex. By definition: “refers to a white person who provides help to non-white people in a self-serving manner.” I was very proud of this piece. Why? Because it made others and myself see what POC go through? Because now those on my social medias knew I wasn’t racist? Because if people saw this and went “Oh! They’re giving a voice to minorities!” they’d then go and buy my book? Looking back now, I don’t think there’s anything about it to be proud of.
My plan in that piece was to amplify and raise up voices of POC and other minorities. But I did the opposite. Instead, I raised my own over them and told their stories as if I could even begin to understand what they went through.
If I could go back to that day and erase the entire document, I would. But what’s online stays online, and I acknowledge the mistakes I made. An apology means nothing if what’s being apologized for doesn’t change or improve. I’d like to think I’ve changed.
“A white ally does not remain silent but confronts racism as it comes up daily, but also seeks to deconstruct it institutionally and live in a way that challenges systemic oppression, at the risk of experiencing some of that oppression.”
Being a white ally goes beyond liking and quote-tweeting a post about discrimination. It’s acknowledging that my part in the LGBT community wouldn’t be where it is today without POC. It’s donating to organizations that help POC youth and to those individuals directly. It’s praising their art, their writing, their films, all of their achievements no matter how small, and understanding that the journey to those points isn’t always easy.
To me, a big part of it is educating yourself, those around you, and listening and learning. It’s not a POC’s job to tell us how we messed up over the course of history. If they want to, then listen. If they tell us to go to Google, then guess what? We’re going to Google.
This change isn’t going to be one and done, isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s going to be lifelong and continuous. I know there will be times where I’ll fall back into my white privilege and not understand why I can’t wear this culturally significant attire that holds alot of importance to a group of people. But I also know that I’m willing to make and see these changes through.
*All quoted lines have their respective links to the original articles they were pulled from.