In this intersectional movement for Black liberation, white allies are a necessary cohort given their privilege and access. White allies, when organized effectively, send a powerful message to the mainstream: that the cause for racial justice and equity is valid, credible, and tangible.
The dynamic of white allyship and solidarity is a complicated one; white people benefit exorbitantly from racism, thus have no reason to change or dismantle structural mechanisms meant to keep us Black folk locked in the underclass. The benefits they’ve reaped from uneven and skewed race relations are bountiful. Hence, their inclusion in racial justice spaces provoke confusion, distrust, ambiguity, and hardship .
There’s a lot of things that trouble me about white allies. From self-interest to miseducation, white allies are a provocative distraction who require precious resources in the form of time and capacity. Fortunately, there are white allies well-versed in the craft, and are taking responsibility for education and mobilization of white people particularly.
But, regardless of the gains made, I don’t like it when white people, allies in particular, call me “Sister.” It’s worth mentioning that I DON’T SPEAK FOR ALL BLACK PEOPLE. I’m speaking for myself, with my own preferences.
I refer to Black people as Brothers and Sisters as an inexplicable modem of connection. When I call my People “Brothers” or “Sisters,” there’s genetic subtext that says: “I see you in the struggle. I see your oppression because I face it too. Together, we will be victorious, and I honor the sacrifices you’ve made. I know that you here living and breathing is a form of resistance, and I respect your survival with no question or compromise.” This is a connection that white people can NEVER understand. Centuries of racial benefit block such camaraderie.
When I hear white allies use the terms “Brothers” and “Sisters,” I see a false sense of commonality; that somehow *we’re all in this together* in a manner indicative of the urge to proclaim #AllLivesMatter. There’s no spiritual underpinning other than the regurgitation of what white allies *think* will spark, foster, and cement cohesion within a fragile Movement.
But it doesn’t. Not to me. For me, it only further fuels distrust I inherently have for white allies within the racial justice framework.
So don’t call me, Sister. I’m not your Sister. I’m your friend. I’m your comrade. YOU ARE MY ALLY. But we do not share that racially spiritual bond of Blackness that the terms Brother and Sister evoke.