How to be an Ally

slogan black lives matter on black board

It took me a few days to gather up the strength to watch the George Floyd video. I knew I had to do it. So I did. I watched it and cried. I watched the expression on George’s face as he faded away, I heard his cries for help calling out ‘mama’ ‘I can’t breathe’ several times. I watched the expression on the cop’s face as he pressed his knee into George’s neck. I watched the angst the bystanders felt as they watched in horror trying to help but couldn’t.

And just like that, another black life was lost. We got to see what it’s like to be a black person in America. We have heard about this before but we pretend like its the way it is. We pretend it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t affect us. We are not black therefore its not our problem. We live a life of privilege, therefore, this will not affect us and so on.

A white friend (she is a friend but given the topic, I have to mention her race) recently asked me why George was arrested. What did he do that led to this? Something about using a counterfeit $20 bill or check. I said I didn’t know the details but it didn’t matter. A man died in the hands of the police in the most brutal way possible and we can all agree on that. If you think he deserved to die then you should closely examine that thought process – Why do you think that? What does his race have to do with it? What does this say about your views towards black people? What makes you think you can justify anyone’s death at the hands of the police?

The time has come to ask tough questions, to challenge assumptions, and to call out bias when you see it. Let’s also remember to do it with respect, to not finger point or place blame but engage with the intent to actively listen to each other, understand what drives assumptions and perceptions, and work actively towards addressing them to create positive change in our communities. This is easier said than done. So I have been thinking about what I can do to make a difference.

Every person has a circle of influence. Your family, your friends, your colleagues, your neighbors. Start there. It will cost you nothing because all it takes is to reach out and engage in a conversation. You will be surprised at what you will hear and hopefully, that will shape your approach, redefine your thought processes, and how you think about race in general.

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.―Paulo Coelho,The Alchemist

I live a life of privilege. At this point in my life, I have lived half my life in India and the other half in America. I came here with nothing but an openness to learn and embrace my new life. On this journey, I have met some incredible people who have shaped my thinking and my approach to life. So I decided to reach out to some of them to ask them how they are doing, what’s their thought process around race and inclusion, how can we be better allies, and work towards a more inclusive America.

Below you will find a series of conversations that will hopefully inspire you to have your own conversations with your network of friends, family, colleagues. Start with one conversation. Let’s create a more inclusive world, one step at a time.

How to be an Ally. A conversation with Hugh Molotsi.

How to be an Ally. A conversation with Mark Dean.

How to be an Ally. A conversation with Celeste Smith.

How to be an Ally. A conversation with Abe Williams.

How to be an Ally. A conversation with KimChi Chen.

How to be an Ally. A conversation with Laura Hanson.

How to be an Ally. A conversation with Charlotte Layton.

How to be an Ally. A conversation with Mike Peterson.