White privilege and being a good ally

White Privilege is defined as "People with white skin having advantages in society that other people do not have" (Cambridge Dictionary).

The term 'White Privilege' has often been misunderstood. It does not equate to financial privilege or being free from challenges in life or that someone doesn't work hard; it doesn't mean that someone with white skin will not face any hardships in life nor that they don't deserve successes, rather that challenges and hardships they do face will not be due to their skin colour, whereas people of colour have historically and currently faced challenges and hardships due to their skin colour not being white.

Examples of white privilege include:

  • Not repeatedly being asked where you are from
  • Being less likely to die in childbirth
  • Often not being the only white person in a room
  • Not worrying that your children will be subjected to racist comments
  • Turning on the TV or opening a paper and seeing people of your race widely represented
  • Not being asked to speak for all the people of your racial group

Allyship is about building relationships of trust, consistency and accountability, particularly with marginalised individuals and groups of people. There are actions you can take to support people who are marginalised and to make the effort to understand struggles and use your voice alongside theirs.

Six ways to be a good ally

Being an ally means moving beyond short-term or performative gestures and taking real, long-term action.

  • Talk and listen - Ask team members from Black backgrounds how they are feeling. Create and maintain safe spaces by genuinely listening to their answers and discussing issues. Don't get defensive and don't overpower
  • Educate yourself - Don't always rely on others to educate you. There is a wealth of material across books, articles, blogs. Look at the books you read, including to your children - how diverse are the characters in the books?
  • Speak up - Don't be afraid of getting it wrong. If you see something that makes you uncomfortable say something. Call out racist stereotyping and microaggressions; criticise what was said rather than the person. Discuss what you learn in your own circles by opening conversations with friends and family
  • Ask questions - If there is something you don't understand then ask
  • Resist 'white Saviour complex' - understand that your role as an ally is not to 'fix'. Try not to give advice or take action on another's behalf, rather ask, 'is there anything I can do to help?'
  • Self-reflect and keep going - be aware of how to use your voice and your actions. Remember the theme for 2022 is about taking action.