White Allies: Please Don’t Call Me “Sister”

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.

photo 1Arielle Newton, Founder/Editor-in-Chief. Get at me @arielle_newton. Get at us @BlkMillennials.


98 responses to “White Allies: Please Don’t Call Me “Sister”

  1. Thank you for writing a beautiful piece that made me stop and think. I am a white ally and stand in solidarity with people of color, and I have definitely used the phrase “my brothers and sisters of color” on social media before. Just now I used it in a Facebook comment and felt for the first time really uncomfortable doing it, so I googled the phrase to see what actual people of color thought about a white ally saying it and found your piece. Using that phrase was coming out of a place of good intentions, but I can see now that it was inappropriate and an act of benevolent cultural appropriation. Thank you for educating me and thank you for helping me to become a less ignorant ally. I’m sorry there are so many white people who wrote a nasty racist comment on here. Telling a person of color that they are wrong when they share their experiences living as a person of color is just another form of racial violence.


  2. I agree with what you have said. As a white supporter, it is often difficult to remember what you so we eloquently described. The lesson I have learned through the years is that I cannot possibly understand what effects racism and privilege has had on anyone else while I deny the effects it has had upon me throughout my life. I learned that my voice cannot possibly speak for you, or for anyone else and that means that I still lend my full support, but also recognize that I cannot speak for you. It is hard to stay silent at times, but I realize that yours is the voice that must be heard. I never want my silence when listening to you to be felt as anything other than total love and support.

    Liked by 1 person

Share Your Truth

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s