Allyship Starter Kit: Easy-Peasy Steps to Help the BLM Movement

Wow, did this blog post ever take several turns for the worse!

I had a cute, clever hook written, perfect segues into my first few paragraphs and a more or less happily-ever-after ending in mind.

Then, as I drove down this smooth road of easy-breezy blog post writing, without a moment's notice, the car swerved uncontrollably into another direction, landed in a ditch and, we are.  

There is nothing cute about what's going on in the world right now. We are in a ditch, darlings. And our cellphones just died. And I think I just heard thunder roar. Yeah, that's the vibe we're working with.

I started writing this post in early May. It was initially a message about race and microaggressions, in light of racism against Asians due to Covid-19.

Then I found out about Africans in Guangzhou, China, who were being seriously discriminated against (like 1950's, racial segregation in the USA type of treatment) because of an online rumour of an infected Nigerian man in that area. It was as confusing as it was terrible, but I still managed to work that into my post. (you can learn more about this here:

Then emerged the case of Ahmaud Arbery, the black man who was fatally shot by a white, vigilante, father and son, tweedledee-and-tweedledum lookalike duo. Some fathers and sons go fishing together; others racially profile, pursue and shoot people dead because they claimed he kind of looked like someone who may have been linked to a string of robberies in the area. Sloppy vigilante work to say the least. 🤬 and full blown unprovoked murder, to say the truth.

Ahmaud was shot in February, yet despite the son admitting to Police that they shot him, nothing was done for weeks; until footage of the incident leaked online and sparked public outrage. Only then did the Glynn County Police Department arrest them. Can you imagine all the cases like these that weren't filmed, and all the injustices we don't know about?

So naturally, that story overshadowed everything else in my post. Yet still, I found a way to work the story into a paragraph of its own. I was getting there.

The pull of procrastination then became all-too tempting. I felt like the message in my post was getting lost. I was having trouble wrapping it up because of how heavy a topic it became. So what else was I to do but distract myself with late-night Google searches like "what is Willow Smith up to these days" and "can narcissists ever truly be happy" (the answer is no BTW). And I wrote nothing more for weeks.

Then, what I can only describe as "George Floyd" happened. I still haven't watched the whole video of his murder caught on tape. And I don't plan to. The few seconds I saw were enough.

A Generation Wakes Up

The decades and decades of police brutality against black people in North America should have been enough for anyone with a heart to take concrete action against it. Yet somehow, reports of "another dead black person at the hands of police" were regularly shown between other shitty stories on the news, and other than feeling terrible while viewing it, life went on for many of us. It shouldn't have.

Was I just slow to catch on? Desensitized to violence and bad news? Feeling like I couldn't make a difference, even if I tried? Consumed with my own problems and 9-5 daily life? Unfortunately, I believe it was varying degrees of all of the above.

Nevertheless, I'm glad I got smacked in the head with this video, as did many others. Whether it was George's haunting pleas, the raw and very clear footage of the murder or the smug look on the face of the disgraceful human who played God that day, something was different this time. This was not a grainy video where you see an injustice take place from far, where you can barely make out the images. There were no debatable angles about what really happened. It was the most appalling, in-your-face, 8 minute and 46 second video that finally made it ABUNDANTLY CLEAR that this is a serious, sick issue that needs immediate action. Enough was finally enough. It is a state of EMERGENCY and should not be treated as anything less.

Move Over, Covid

Hmmm...the last time I remember people dying left and right of something, cities, borders and social gatherings all SHUT DOWN until further notice. In both cases we are talking about human lives lost in large numbers.

Where is the immediate action in place to ensure that not one more black person loses their life to police brutality? That's what this is all about.

Imagine how big an issue has to be for it to take the spotlight over Covid-19. The pandemic is still going on, I genuinely don't remember what wearing real pants feels like, and yet the constant, day-in, day-out media coverage about it has been eclipsed by the massive protests for the Black Lives Matter movement. People are that fed-up. And a lot of us are showing up super late here; so imagine people who have been fighting this fight for decades?!

These protests are now taking place in large numbers around the world- America, Canada, Italy, Spain, Belgium, London and Germany to name a few. A statue in Bristol, UK, of a 17th-century slave trader was even toppled and tossed into a harbour the other day. Protesters in Virginia, US are now doing the same and dismounting several monuments of the same type. I think I speak for many of us when I say: Bye Felicia's !!!

Let's Check Ourselves

I see 3 categories of people in this situation: 1- those who get it, 2- those who don't and 3- those who get it, but look away.

Those who get it are taking consistent action, whether in big steps or small. They recognize that this is an emergency and ALL OF US must be part of a long-term solution. 

Those who don't, the exhausting "but don't all lives matter?" people who post useless comments online trying to veer us off topic. "George Floyd was a criminal, he shouldn't be viewed as a martyr" etc., etc. No one said he was an angel, the point is he did not deserve to die for allegedly using a fraudulent $20 bill...or for any of his past crimes, for which he did his time. The people who don't get it drain our energy by playing semantics and trying to debate something that isn't debatable. They are better off serving society by watching paint dry somewhere and leaving us the hell alone to tackle the grown-up issues.

Those who get it, but look away have different reasons: too busy, don't know where to start, don't care, etc.; but the results remain the same- inaction. Turning a blind eye to a human rights issue of this magnitude is heartless. Like I said- I've been there in the past. But this time around, it is major news that is covered by media everywhere so the only way you don't know about the severity of it is if you choose not to.  

I've seen people appear more outraged over plastic straws injuring turtles than about innocent black people losing their lives to law enforcement. Don't get me wrong- that is an important issue as well that needs our help to change. But if that is supposed to trump saving human lives then all I will say is those are interesting priorities. And by 'interesting", I mean messed-up.

I also wonder how differently some would react if their people were the ones being targeted and killed on a regular basis for no valid reason. If you can see yourself doing more if it concerned your people, then you are valuing some lives over others and you should probably check yourself.

A Little Goes a Long Way

I understand that this is a stressful time for a lot of people and "changing the world" is quite a daunting task to add to an already full to-do list. People were overwhelmed as it was. But no one said you have to be out there with a huge bristle board, protesting during a pandemic. Change occurs on various levels and small steps absolutely count for something. And these steps can be way more than sharing links and posting black squares on social media.

Here are some small but meaningful steps you can take as a starter kit to allyship:

  • talk to your children (age-appropriately, of course). This is the perfect time if you are home-schooling them right now. Start the conversation about race and why it's important to treat and respect everyone. 
  • start discussions about this topic with family, friends, your partner, etc. It's helpful to share knowledge and enlighten others and/or learn from them as well. 
  • check-in on your black friends. A simple text msg has meant a lot to some of my friends. It reminds them that you care and are sensitive to what they could be going through right now. 
  • Self-reflect. If you don't have black friends, ask yourself why that is. Or if you don't feel moved by this issue, ask yourself why that is. Maybe you have prejudices that you aren't aware of.
  • Be kind. In one of the articles I read about racism in Canada, the black author mentioned he feels invisible (here is the link: So 💔. He also describes "Having to be all smiley and jovial, and basically a caricature of yourself, when you’re alone with a woman or a senior in an elevator so they don't feel scared". Interesting timing for me to read that because, as I walked my dog the other day, I told myself I want to make sure our neighbour several doors down (whom we never officially met since we are new-ish to the block and who is black) makes eye contact with me so I can smile and say hello while passing him by. Of course, my dog (I wish more humans were like dogs) was excited to see him so she walked up to him and he bent down, pet her and said "she's so cute" with a smile. I know this could be debatable, because some would say just treat everyone the same. But when let's say a lot of society isn't treating certain racial groups of people the same (from all I'm learning AND from the lived experiences of a few friends), is it wrong to want to show a little extra grace, attention and care? I don't know what the answer is; but I can't help but feel like the smallest acts of kindness can't hurt. Especially if the person receiving them has been treated all kinds of wrong already. I think bottom line is it has to be sincere and not over-the-top overdoing it. And also- vibes! Vibes are important, because there are terrible, diabolical people of all ethnic backgrounds and colours, so I don't want to be happy-go-lucky with just anyone, regardless of colour (I clearly consume too much true crime stuff out there!). So a penchant for kindness and a heightened awareness of anti-black racism in society in general, all while assessing off/sociopathic vibes is what I'm concluding here. lol I guess not every point can be easy-peasy!
  • Follow black pages and/or black activists on social media, to make sure the issues and movements stay in your face and at the forefront of your consciousness. Even better- subscribe to their newsletters to receive updates. Here is one I just signed up for:
  • Call someone out on an insensitive joke or comment. I finally did it recently. I was shaking and my heart was pounding, but I did it. Showing others less tolerance to those types of comments might change behaviour in the long run. And if not, you at least did your part. I suck at reacting on the spot sometime, but even simply shooting a look of death or rolling your eyes at them...or casually saying 'oh so you're basically racist, got it' is way better than nothing.
  • LISTEN. Listening is a lost art these days. I often smirk to myself when I overhear two people having a "conversation", yet they are both talking over each other and neither one is really listening to the other. Good listeners are hard to find. Listen to black people's experiences in this world, read/share their stories, hear what they have to say, validate what they have been through. Care enough to witness their pain, if you have the opportunity. LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN!
  • Support black businesses. If you're going to order out anyway, why not support a black owned business and perhaps even try something new. UberEats has compiled all the black-owned restaurants for us, but here is a helpful link as well for more than just food:
  • Donate. Here is a list provided by Elle magazine of 19 organizations supporting black Canadians: Yes, we are still in a pandemic and money is tight for some. But judging by how busy UPS and Canada Post are these days, a lot of people are finding money to spend.
  • Learn Black history. That's another easy one. Learning about history can help put things into perspective; and help us gain a deeper understanding about why current issues exist. Here is a link to several black history movies on Netflix:
  • If you are an artist, produce art about this. Use new insight gained or stories shared by black people to bring them to light in a new dimension and amplify voices to help get their stories heard. See examples below. Or better yet, support a black artist by sharing their stuff and purchasing from them (I've always loved me a good 'excuse' to spend money!).

Who knew allyship could be this simple! And even fun, in some cases!

Before We Wreck Ourselves

Like it or not, the future of this world is in our hands. Whatever action or inaction you take will affect the outcome. Don't believe me?

Have you ever brought a delicious, homemade salad to work one day (back in the days when we went to work), and you inadvertently motivated your colleague to bring one the next day? And then that colleague motivated another colleague to skip the poutine and get something healthy for lunch instead? 

Or have you ever witnessed a situation between two people spiral out of control, that was totally avoidable, had either of them done the smallest thing differently?

I remember several years ago, a colleague at the time won a $5000 engagement ring from a local radio contest and that was the highlight of the day at the office. How did that happen? She didn't complete a long form, donate to anything, or do anything time-consuming. She took 5 seconds and entered her name online to play. That led to a 2nd round of games, which then ultimately led to going to the studio and competing with other couples. And before you knew it, she won!

Those are trivial examples, but it happens every day. You and your actions are affecting the people around you and the outcome of countless situations.

Imagine what we could accomplish if we all consistently did the steps mentioned above? Even 2021 could be a drastically safer place for black people and in turn, a better world for all of us. Call me naive perhaps, but I am hopeful.

My husband and I ordered food from a Jamaican restaurant Friday night and tried jerk chicken for the first time 🤗. At the checkout when I placed our order in the UberEats app, I decided to check off the little box to tip the restaurant $2. The post-it note attached to our order when it arrived made me smile- Thank you, circled in a ❤. It felt like the Universe was telling me- you're right: a little goes a long way.

I hope you join me in committing to consistently helping our fellow humans fight this fight...even if it's one meal, one movie or one email at a time. 

We might be clumsy or make mistakes along the way in our allyship. But that should never stop us from persisting. Black people do not get a break from racism. So we shouldn't take one from being an ally.

Looking at the world right now, there has never been a better time for us to check ourselves...before we wreck ourselves.

Here is a frame I made for the beautiful words of a woman (a friend's cousin) talking to her younger brother, about his experiences with racism:

And here is a set I made In memory of all the black lives lost at the hands of law enforcement.



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