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Raymond Sheppard: True allies

Raymond Sheppard. Photo Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – You want to be an ally in the fight against racism and injustice?

What’s stopping you? You do not need permission from anyone to become a responsible and committed ally. 

I believe the first prerequisite is to take your own personal inventory, what are my biases and what do I truly believe. Equally, you have to gauge your understanding of the issues and how they affect individuals, groups and the community. To become an ally because someone called you a racist or thinks you are a racist is the wrong reason to become an ally. After all, African people do not try to become European because they have been called unwanted and undeserved horrible names.

If you are a person of European descent and you are trying to be an ally to African peoples, quite often you will be labeled a sellout. If your heart, mind and spirit are in the right place this should not deter you from the mission you are about to take on in order to make a difference in doing the right thing.

Being an ally is much like being in advocate, it is someone who speaks up and stands up so that the rights and needs of others are respected, understood and valued, and allies advocate to remove deliberate obstacles\barriers so that situations are improved, situations are resolved . 

Allies can be from any community, ethnicity, gender, age, income and or ability. They volunteer to step up and provide assistance while doing the right thing and not the white thing. Real allies would come close to giving their life to make sure that justice and true equality is served, practiced and secured.

True allies also do their homework, they get to learn and know the history. They try to understand as much as they can, they read and speak to advocates, activists and elders in community. They identify their own biases and learn how to identify the biases of others and what to do about it. They listen to those directly affected by racist, intolerance and hate, and understand as much as they are able to. True allies attend protests and rallies, write governments, speak out wherever and whenever, and they never just show up for a photo opportunity.

True allies are driven by compassion and a moral sense of what’s right. 

Allies use their privilege to stand up and speak out to their networks. In essence they inform and encourage others to do the right and just thing.

Many allies tend to feel uncomfortable, yet those allies with perseverance and commitment understand that the only way to feel comfortable being an ally is by doing the right thing. 

Allies realize that those they are trying to assist feel 1000% more uncomfortable than they do facing racism and injustice day-after-day in a planned system set up to destroy them. 

True allies always take ownership of their own shortcomings and give 100% to overcome their biased privileged background while letting their actions speak. 

Individuals working alone or together with others toward the same purpose as a result of a mutual understanding, concern and commitment will make a difference and will inspire others to do the same. If you require information on how to get started speak to an African Nova Scotian advocate or activist, I am sure they will be more than happy to assist you on your new journey to make a difference.  

If you are already a true ally, thank you and please continue your much needed support. 

See also: Anti–Black racism in Nova Scotia is white people’s problem

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