8 Tips to Cultivating Consistently Strong Allyship

Read the news from many media outlets, or purchase anything at all, you may find political commentators and businesses stating their support of the Black community in light of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others. On one hand, one can be filled with hope that we can stand in solidarity against racism, sexism, and police brutality, but on the other, there are so many questions that arise.

One, in particular, is: Why do the same pundits struggle with being as vocal about the quotidian challenges that disproportionately face the black community? We face a higher maternal death rate, unjust treatment in the penal system, the discrepancy in generational wealth, and more daily. What are you doing to be a consistent ally?

But what does ‘being an ally’ mean? Does it mean that you as a business owner say that you stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement while not doing much else to alleviate injustices that Black and other underrepresented people face?

I hope that it means something else. Here are some ideas of what I think it might mean:

  • Correct others on stereotypes, misconceptions, and prejudices even when a member of the group you are defending is not present. It also means accepting correction from members of the party whom you are trying to advocate.
  • Hold space for opinions, emotions, grievances, and experiences that are not your own, without trying to invalidate or minimize the importance of them.
  • Offer full redress to those being harmed, and being fully transparent about your expectations concerning interactions — business and otherwise — with others. An example of this is realizing that certain rules and regulations in various institutions borne of one culture may muzzle the concerns and wishes of another, without making excuses about it.
  • Honor the ingenuity, business-savvy, beauty, and other traits of a group by extending proper compensation, protection of intellectual rights, and historical consideration as others.
  • Be self-motivated to become informed on the social mores, particular cultural practices, psychology, history, economics, and other facets of a particular population that have an impact on the role the group has in mainstream society. It means realizing that even though the group may be a “minority,” it is still a heterogeneous demographic that holds various ideologies by different factions within it.
  • Resist aggression and micro-aggression s through your behavior: ask yourself if you have to see, touch, say, hear, or otherwise assuage your curiosity or fear about an individual at that person’s expense. An example of this is calling the police on a person who has done nothing wrong, or “asking” to occupy personal space in a way that makes the person uncomfortable.
  • Understand that the law is not always just. For example, many citizens do not know that Miranda rights are not required to be read in every situation. In a similar vein, the law is not always applied reasonably, as studies have shown that darker-skinned defendants tend to receive more unfair treatment during processing and harsher sentencing when tried.
  • Do away with political cognitive dissonance: Our collective legislative and political workload increases when supposed allies vote for a candidate whose policies are known to unjustly target disadvantaged groups while espousing beliefs that everyone should be treated equally.
While this is not an exhaustive list, these are stepping stones to being an ally, which is a full-time job. Being an ally is a full-time job because when you are a member of a disadvantaged group, the barriers that must be overcome are present on a day-to-day basis.

Unlearning Oppression (Lesson 3): Allies for Justice

We see daily that we each much choose a side. There are no bystanders in this moment. Coronavirus in the form Covid-19 ravishes our community on one side, while systemic oppression and white supremacists devour our Black flesh in the light of day. Long prey to the economic hungers of Jim Crow America, we can no longer sit quietly with our own sustained hunger, historical discriminatory unemployment, political disenfranchisement and continued enslavement through mass incarceration, we stand up for our lynched and murdered Black Americans. We simply say, “No more!” Now, we need support from our allies.

Don’t make excuses. If you don’t know any people of color, start reaching out with kindness. Treat us like humans. Don’t pretend you don’t see the news. Black people in America are in need of support. We need to know that White-Americans believe in our humanity and our right to live without daily enactments of violence upon our bodies. We need to know that White Americans do not condone  someone sitting on our father’s neck until he dies. We need to see White Americans outraged because our son was shot down for sport during a jog in his neighborhood. We need to hear words, see actions that unequivocally demonstrate that White Americans will not tolerate the innocent slaughter of our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, elders and children in our own homes, yards and cars.

Lesson 3: Practice showing up for people of color. Look us in the eye. Ask our name. Listen. Ask what you can do. Do what you can support your neighbors, coworkers and extended community who aren’t white. Accept whatever comes with grace and compassion. Keep showing up until you are successful.

Unlearning Oppression (Lesson 2): Breathing into Fairness

Covid-19, civil unrest and curfew means we are in our homes. Miraculously, many formerly house-less people are sheltered. This is a good time for unlearning racism, by examining closely the root of this tree. California passed the Unruh Civil Rights Act (No Discrimination in Business in 1988, to try to prevent steering and blockbusting. “All person within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin, they are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever…” (California Real Estate Practice, 9th).

Part of the Dialectial Behavior Therapy approach to dis-ease to undertake to change our thinking patterns. You practice the action that embodies the thinking, while staying in contact with your body and the present moment. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that when we touch deeply the present, we can transform the past and the future. In essence, our awareness, our attention and our love can transform our reality–for the better.

I started this practice of looking inward in my early twenties. As imperfect as I am, as we all are, I’ve worked to not repeat the same mistakes. I try to grow, do better and master myself. Yet, mastering oneself requires intimacy, silence and introspection:

Lesson 2: Meditate, pray, study, journal or contemplate the Unruh Civil rights Act implemented in California seeking to understand the root necessity of such legislation. Why was this legislation necessary? What are the consequences of steering and blockbusting to the families involved? Spend 10-20 minutes daily on these questions.

Who we are as a people is defined by our actions. Our deeds in the world will inspire awe and be remembered-no matter what we do. Only by looking deeply into the present, can we unlearn the unspoken. We are taught to look past and through one another. Together we can unlearn the damaging ideologies that puts a value on skin color and enforces that projected vale with systemic violence. It’s time to heal. It’s time to do the hard work or turning inward, in silence and loving kindness, a Gift of the Spirit.

Unlearning Oppression (Lesson 1): The Practice of Inclusion

I’m not going to repeat everything you already know about the national protests about the executions of innocent black people. What I will do is what I’ve been trained to do: Educate. It’s obvious that people need to learn how to change ineffective behavior that perpetuates dehumanizing oppression that manifests in sexism and racism.

There is a fundamental othering that occurs in enactments of oppression. It says that some of us belong and others do not. These lines are arbitrary, drawn upon personal privilege, individualism and systemic-historical rewards for the same behaviors. Racism in American society manifests as:

  • Discrimination in hiring, medical care and financial services
  • Poverty and poor educational services
  • Violence and aggression directed toward Black, Latinx, Native American and Asian men, women and children

The question arises: Can we end and unlearn the internalized violence and aggression that accompany oppression? The answer is yes. Similar to treating mental-health disorders, racism and other forms of oppression can be treated using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) techniques. One simply way to begin to unlearn the thinking behind the action is simply to change your actions to include us. Try this simple strategy:

LESSON 1: Never ask a Black, Latinx, Native American or Asian man, woman or child, “How did you get in here?” unless you are in your private residence, hotel or car.

This simple technique will help you understand that public spaces like Starbucks, banks, college campuses, libraries and parks belong to everyone. No one need ask you for personal permission to co-exist in society. These are rightfully shared spaces. By practicing mindfulness and refraining for exclusionary language, we can begin to mend the historic rift tearing our nation apart. We all belong. Do your part to make sure we all feel included.

How to Maintain Mental Health Through Ritual

With unexpected changes happening every day, I’ve found that it’s important to find a routine or a ritual. For me, it is walking in nature to breathe the air that refreshes and heals, taking warm showers with luxurious soaps and salts that soften and cleanse, and drinking the teas that bring forth healing and wash the worries of the day away. These sensual indulgences link my body, mind, and spirit and allow for optimal psychological and spiritual health.

Mental health, our internal heaven, sometimes seems to elude us but is always available to us. A fragile, steadfast friend, it wants to stay with us — through connecting with our friends and our family, scribbling in a journal with tattered pages; a trusted and empathetic psychiatrist or counselor, or the paintbrushes tucked in our studio. 

Respite and Revival

These rituals simultaneously connect us to and vehemently release us from the realities of life, while life makes it possible to enjoy and revive our bodies and souls. With our staunch collective obsession of all that is new and theoretical in our Western society, coming back to that which is tried and true can be a welcome respite from the pressure to be different.

Still, a mysterious danger remains of being stuck in the past, present, or even future instead of being edified by it. We must embrace cycles in their full spectrum. Cycles are not just a hallmark of fertility although that is certainly significant; these cycles are cues that allow healing, sleep, emotional development and stability, calm. 

Alleviation of Emotional and Psychological Pain

These rituals and cycles — circling, and spiraling — undo the knots of symptoms such as anxiety and anger. Our internal revolutions unfurl the painful memories locked into our psyche and cells and are expressed as inflammation. Whether you call these experiences cytokines or prostaglandins, rituals to remove stress can stop the overabundance of pain.

We also stop the pain with laughter, the ultimate healing ritual amid the friction that can be described as systematic subjugation. I laugh with my ancestors: they get the joke, the absurdity that we should have to fight oppressive forces all this time.

Finding my center

My rituals help me to tap within, to figure out why we do what we do. Where do we fit into the seeming madness of the world? It seems like we all have desires that appear to be at odds with each other, yet make up a composite mosaic that is reflective of our collective experience.

Dear Teenagers, (An open Letter)

I am doing this for you and every American teenager who has to miss so many important moments in order to keep your family safe. For every teenager who will VOTE the very first time on November 3, 2020, I want to make sure that wherever you are, without compromising your safety and with the confidence that your voice matters, because it does, that you can vote.

First, you have to make sure you can vote:

  1. Every US Citizen who is or will be 18 years of age on or before Election Day, has the right to vote. Learn more here: https://www.usa.gov/who-can-vote.
  2. Next, you must REGISTER to VOTE. Here is the link for you to RESGISTER TO VOTE while staying Safe at Home: https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote
  3. Learn about what offices will be on the ballot in your community.
  4. VOTE! Election Day for the nation is Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

My husband and I think of and discuss you young people each day. We see the tremendous sacrifice you’re making for your family and community. You should be proud of yourself. It takes personal power to delay gratification for another year. Your courage inspires me. I also recognize that this is a very important time of your life. I wish you all the best, sincerely. May you thrive and find joy where you are. I hope you discover your real strength and get to know yourself well. That’s magic at any age. And, I hope you vote this year. Voting is one of the most important thresholds into adulthood that you can cross. Voting requires advanced planning, critical thinking and education. You matter. Make this year extra special.

Dear US Representative, (An Open Letter)

We the People need your help to ensure that EACH AND EVERY US Citizen can cast a vote this November. We understand that we will not likely have a cure for COVID-19 by November 2020, we can only slow the spread. Therefore, we need to have a plan to VOTE-BY-MAIL before November 3, 2020 so that every American Citizen can vote.

How long would it take you to fire a teacher who told your child to drink bleach or Lysol? Trump’s actions in the White House are reprehensible and unacceptable to most of us. We the people want to fire him as soon as possible. That means that EVERY state in the US needs to have a VOTE-BY-MAIL option by November 3, 2020 so that American Citizens can vote him out of office.

Bottom line: The Presidential Election is Tue. Nov. 3rd. We need VOTE-BY-MAIL in all 50 states. Pre-emptively, let’s discuss the “Fraud Argument” often brought up by Republicans to DISENFRANCHISE PEOPLE OF COLOR from our right to vote. Congress Person, we the people are smart enough to figure out how to have a valid and fair election. Just in case, here are my considered solutions:

  1. Countless US Citizens Abroad have voted with the Absentee Ballot from overseas and military bases for decades. through Absentee Voting. We’ve never had a problem. We know it works.
  2. Perform an accurate 2020 Census. If you want to know how many citizens there are in each county, COUNT US ALL in the 2020 Census. After that, you can stop counting votes when they hit that magic number.
  3. Create a new VOTE-BY-MAIL option for November 3, 2020. This requires we keep the United States Postal Service (USPS) open for business. Trump is already trying to shut the USPS, the most egalitarian institution the American people have.
  4. A VOTE-BY-MAIL option is Russia and cyber-tampering proof.

Fascism, Racism, hate-mongering and blatant stupidity are unacceptable methods of running the United States of America. The world is watching us. We are failing our children. WE THE PEOPLE, DEMAND ALL CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES WORK TOGETHER TO ENSURE A VALID, FAIR ELECTION NOVEMBER 3, 2020. We elected you to support us. Get to work. We deserve better.

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Demanding Democracy,

All US Citizens

 

 

 

 

 

Get in Touch with your representatives:

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 224-3121
TTY: (202)-225-1904

Tell them LA County is leading the way! https://patch.com/california/pacificpalisades/all-la-county-registered-voters-get-mail-ballots