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Posted under: Culture

Allyship Is More Than Posting A Hashtag: What Are You Doing To Protect Black Lives?

You like our culture? Pull up.

In the words of Detroit’s Kash Doll, “If you say you with it, why the f**k you ain’t pull up?” 

It would be nice to default to some eloquent, thesis length statement that asks non-Black people who capitalize off our culture, “why have you been so silent,” but that would be too much grace. Make no mistake, this select group houses white folks, non-Black people of color and just about anyone who utilizes Black culture for their personal gain without doing the bare minimum, outside of posting crooked black squares on social media, to exemplify a semblance of allyship.

The gag is that while many were participating in #blackoutTuesday and marking off their “how to be a performative ally” checklist, they were actually drowning out valuable information ranging from resources to issues of police violence by using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Simple acts of digital solidarity only scratch the surface of what it means for genuine non-Black allies to show up and help dismantle the system of white supremacy. Sweeties, you’re going to have to do a bit more than that.

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First, it isn’t hard to understand why an entire race rooted in the act of colonizing is obsessed with using Black bodies and culture for capitalist gain. Black folks know that we’ve set the blueprint for American culture because white people continuously and so casually make gutless attempts to duplicate the resilience and beauty attached to our melanin. Still, it’s vexing that these faux, Diet Pepsi swigging allies continue to rest on their Caucasian laurels as if using a few hashtags under their photos and re-sharing articles that denounce white supremacy is enough. How do they actively denounce white supremacy, though?

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Have they donated to any funds that support the Black Lives Matter movement? Have they given any financial assistance to aid protesters who are facing the consequences of cleaning up a system that they have perpetuated and benefited from? Have they patronized any Black businesses during both of the pandemics we’re experiencing (one of which, they caused)? Are they having conversations with their performative pale-complexioned kinfolk on why showing up to the George Floyd protests to cause another civil war is inhumane? These are just a few examples of how white people can show up for Black people during this revolution. It would also be helpful for white people to educate themselves about what is happening at this moment.


As said before, we are in a revolution. We are not looting or rioting, Black folks are releasing over 400 years worth of indignation that has been bottled up from sea to sea and generation to generation. This visceral reaction that the world is seeing isn’t something that Americans just woke up with, it is the result of Black folks carrying the burdens of our ancestors, laid upon us by the very fabric of white supremacy. When the Karens, Toms and Beckys of the world mislabel our protests for equality as “looting” or “rioting,” the message being conveyed is that they’d like for us to curb our cause to accommodate their comfort level. Just as our fury is embedded in our ancestry, their preference of capitalism over Black lives is embedded in theirs. It is laughable to expect us to fall into the “Good Negro” archetype to protect white people from facing the demons for which they never planned to atone.



While we don’t expect for  all white people to become allies during this time and beyond, it is important for our non-Black allies of color to stand with us in solidarity. Many people like to use the term “people of color” as some cookie cutter designation that lumps us with the other diverse ethnic groups in the world, but that’s actually counterproductive. That phrase erases our Blackness and assumes that our experiences are comparable to other marginalized groups, when it is not. That phrase can be violent because it allows the oppressors to never truly be held accountable for the structural damage that they’ve done to different communities of color. It’s fledgling at best. It even allows other people of color to benefit from their proximity to whiteness, be it skin color or socioeconomic status, and perpetuate the same racist behavior and ideologies that white supremacy upholds.

Earlier this year, Rihanna movingly encouraged other races of people to “pull up” alongside us when they see us advocating for basic human rights. Our culture should never create an entryway for allies, colonizers and culture vultures to skate through but as Rihanna said, if you want to break bread with us, pull up. You like our culture? Pull up. It’s the least you can do for your role in preserving systems and structures that were meant to break us.

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A Detroit native, Kenneth 'Kenny' Williams Jr. is a self-described cultural critic and visual storyteller. While at Michigan State University, Kenneth received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and went on to obtain his Master of Arts degree in Public Relations. Kenneth's passions include pop culture, writing, and using his skill sets to actively and positively promote the narratives of Black people and Black culture. Interested in seeing more from Kenneth? Follow him on Medium at https://medium.com/@kennethwilliams310