From Bystander to Ally: When it comes to racism, there’s no such thing as neutral.

ChapterĀ 41 of Waking Up White: and finding myself in the story of RACE by Debbie Irving

What might prevent you from stepping out of the bystander role and into the ally role? Make a list of your reasons. What do you notice as you look at this list? What might you do to overcome the obstacles you’ve listed?

  1. I’ve been raised to “be nice”. – Assertiveness without aggressiveness is a very fine line, and I’m so afraid of offending peopleĀ that I often am a “bystander”. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to counteract this tendency in myself, and I’m trying to think through some potential situations and how I should/will respond. I also could use a lot more role-playing to practice this.
  2. I’m afraid of practicing micro-aggressions, even when I have the best of intentions. – One of the best ways around this is to develop personal relationships with folks of a different color/faith/gender/etc. I need to seek out people who are different from me, just because I want to be around them. I also need to listen to them when they tell me I’ve stepped over the line and into that space.
  3. My “ear” is often not attuned to unacceptable behavior, and I miss what’s going on. – If I’ve missed the sub-text in a situation, I need to not be afraid to circle back and confront it once I DO “get it.” Again, having a personal relationship with the “others” will help me understand and hear the undertones and undercurrents around me.

If you would like to join me as I blog about my experiences with race, please read the book. It was life changing for me.