Black History Month
Resources for Authentic Allyship
by Jasleen Sidhu, co-founder of The Job Disruptors
It’s February. That means it’s Black History Month. What does that mean to you?
If you’re like me, you consider yourself an ally to the Black community. I’ve been on an anti-racism journey for many years and as a woman of colour, I understand the importance of doing “the work.”
“The work” meaning bringing awareness to systemic racism, unlearning beliefs that stem from racism, learning how to rebuild belief systems that foster diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice.
However, I have found myself falling into the performative allyship trap before. If you want to know more about where you fall on the performative <—> authentic allyship spectrum, tune in to hear the Disruptors’ recent podcast guest, Tony Nabors define Performative versus Authentic Allyship: ”Hold the Ally Cookies: Authentic Allyship for Black History Month & Beyond.” We had a very thoughtful, engaging conversation packed with insights.
I’m guilty of feeling the need to put my “allyship” on display. For example, a few years back I posted a carousel of pictures on Instagram of Black women who have shaped my own thinking about racism and have inspired me in many ways: Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Beyoncé, the list goes on.
But, on my allyship journey, I asked myself, “ is celebrating and consuming Black culture, (while not being subjected to the marginalization of Black people) really doing the work? Is it authentic or performative allyship?
Angela Y. Davis famously said: “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” Taking action is key to being anti-racist. But when the action is easy and centered around ‘you’, is it true activism?
I would argue that true activism needs to feel like work. It needs to make us uncomfortable at times. It needs to expose the racism we have internalized ourselves. It forces us to uncover our biases, unlearn and change our behaviours going forward. And it helps us to influence more non-Black people to do “the work,” instead of burdening the Black community to educate us.
True allyship centers the benefit around the marginalized group, and the work around the most privileged.
Bottom line, true activism — authentic allyship — creates change. It dismantles inequity and systems of oppression.
So, where do we start with doing “the work”?
In Canada, Crystal Fraser and Sara Komarnisky have created a resource called 150 acts of reconciliation for the Indigenous community. I have found this resource effective in keeping me on track with assessing my own gaps to stay on the (Indigenous) anti-racism and decolonization journey so I don’t become complacent.
And so, I wanted to find a similar resource specifically designed for people on their Black Allyship journey.
As I am not part of the Black community, I fully acknowledge that I have my own gaps and welcome input. At the same time, I do not wish to burden Black folks with more work so I decided to start a list and hope for it to evolve every year. If an existing body of resources exists geared for adults, please let me know and I’ll include it here.
Additionally, if you know of Black owned businesses, creators, educators that should be included on this list, please reach out to me directly so I can include them.
Although we at the Job Disruptors have many resources and support for businesses who aim to become DEI leaders, this list resource is meant to focus on you as an individual and is specific to supporting the Black community (although it will also help you start thinking critically about DEI as a whole). If you are a leader, this is a great place to start on your own personal journey.
True activism — authentic allyship — creates change. It dismantles inequity and systems of oppression.
Use this guide as a resource and inspiration to create change and show up authentically as an ally.