My White Ally Pledge

I am a white person. I am a part of the problem. I didn’t choose to be, but that does not exonerate me. I actively try to make things better, but that does not erase my privilege. I do not harbor hate, but that does not make me immune to the messages about race that permeate our society in often invisible ways.

As a white person who wants to be an ally to people of color, I make the following pledge:

1. I will recognize and remember that I do not, and cannot, have any idea what it is like to be a person of color in America. I do not know what people of color need; I do not know what is best for them.

2. I will not let this knowledge paralyze me, nor excuse me from being an ally. I will not let my fear of making a mistake allow me to make the biggest mistake: doing nothing.

3. I will hear the voices of people of color. I will not tell them how they must use their voices in order to be heard. I will not try to control their narrative. I will hear their stories no matter how they are spoken.

4. I will lift up those voices, not speak over them or for them. I will ask what I can do. I will do it, as best I can.

5. I will take action. I will not be silent when I witness racism. I will not shy from confrontation and I will not make excuses for racists. I will not abide casual racism.

6. I will do my best to not let my anger overshadow my message. I will not use personal attacks, but will be direct, honest, compassionate, and unwavering.

7. I will interrogate myself. I will do my best to be aware of the ramifications of my words and actions and the cost of my privilege to others. If I am accused of racism, I will listen. I will invite feedback, and I will take it to heart. I will ask for help in recognizing my blind spots and the ways I can improve.

8. I will discuss these issues candidly with my children, so that they might be better allies with purer hearts.

9. I will pay attention to the ways issues of race intersect with those of gender, class, sexuality, and other forms of inequality, and I will seek to address these issues, as well, as they support and exacerbate race inequality.

10. I will continue to educate myself, and others, where possible.

11. I will not forget this pledge when the flurry of activity after the latest crisis has waned.

12. I will not congratulate myself. This is my responsibility. I am not entitled to pride for being a decent human being. This is the minimum I can do.

13. When I fail at any of these, I will reflect, apologize, and start again.

Earnestly pledged this 20th day of June, 2015,
Krista Marie Cox

Here is some additional reading that has helped me form my pledge and the beliefs that underlie it:

An Open Letter to my Fear

Dear Fear:

I hear you. I mean, I don’t really have a choice. You are a loud-ass motherfucker. In this moment, you are a vuvuzela/megaphone hybrid in the orgasmic throes of a menage-a-trios with an air horn and Fran Drescher. I hear you.


So loud it hurts your eyeballs.

I understand you. A long time ago, when being loved really WAS a matter of life and death, your neural pathways were worn deep and steady. Time does not exist to you; you and I will always be tiny, frail, helpless, desperate to be swaddled and given a breast to suckle. (We at least have that last thing in common. Mmm. Breasts.)

I respect you. You believe you are the unlikely hero of the natural disaster movie, the one who saw it all coming, but nobody would listen because you made that fatal mistake back in ’73, or because you have great tits under that lab coat. You really just want to be heard, because holy shit you guys, this asteroid is going to wipe out life on the entire planet if we don’t take action immediately.


I’m just going to go ahead and let all you sexist fuckers die, then.

I appreciate you. Maybe there aren’t ravenous lions to worry about so much, anymore, but there are dark streets in dangerous neighborhoods, there are people who would use or hurt me, there is Donald Trump. There are still things to fear in this world. You come in handy at times.


Basically the entire reason the “fight or flight” response evolved.

I have to admit, you’ve gotten much better about crying wolf in the past few years. You seem to have learned that I can travel alone safely without needing you there yelling about stranger danger. You seem to have realized that the slightest hint that maybe life is kinda founded on uncertainty and lack of guarantees isn’t an open invitation for you to tromp all over my face. When I’m trying new things, you just kinda tug at my sleeve so I don’t forget about you instead of duct-taping me upside-down to the wall. You’ve been doing great, and I’m so proud of us.

But still, sometimes, maybe chill the fuck out a little? Rejection isn’t the same as the Earth hurtling at break-neck speeds into the sun. Experiencing loss isn’t the same thing as being trapped in a stainless steel kitchen with two genetically-engineered velociraptors. Being single isn’t the same thing as traversing the desert of an entire lifetime without the thirst-quenching relief of human touch. …well, okay, that last one might be slightly more true that the others (or at least feel more true) ((god, if only Fear could help me get laid…))


Dammit, there isn’t even anything around here that resembles a dildo.

But, you know, we’re in this together, Fear. We go way back. You’re one of the most consistent things in my life. Since I learned so much about myself, I even often instinctively know when it’s time to ready the guest bed for your unannounced arrival. And it really is like having family come to visit: uncomfortable, awkward, sometimes painful, but always familiar. I see some of the deepest parts of myself in you, and that’s pretty hard. But I appreciate you showing them to me, because “me” is not just some pretty blue eyes, and a terrible wit, and a mind that slopes toward the gutter. “Me” is also a paralyzing aversion to abandonment, weakness and dramaticism in the face of rejection, and the tendency to suppress my own needs because I’m afraid others will see them as an imposition.

Thanks for showing me me, Fear.

Now fuck off, I got shit to do.


There is no Success. There is no Happiness.

Today I saw a motivational poster thingie on Facebook.

I can understand the desire underlying this. When we’re in the midst of a hard time, we want to believe we’re working toward something, that our suffering has some meaning or purpose. It’s really hard to continue to believe in meaning and purpose in world with so much suffering, injustice, and uncertainty. So we make mantras like this one to try to change our perspective about the hard shit.

I don’t disagree at all that the hard shit is valuable. Pain is like a charcoal water filter. You pour some murky-ass water into the top, all full of harmful thought processes, emotional baggage, social pressure. And if you allow yourself to percolate in the pain, you come through the filter a purer version of yourself, closer to what you really are on the inside. You have to go through the filter at least a few times before anybody can drink you without getting violent diarrhea, but . . . you know what, I think I’ve overextended this metaphor, so I’ll just stop now.


Me, before and after two divorces and the final episode of LOST.

The part of this quote I take issue with is the “success story.” It implies success is some kind of end-game goal you’re striving toward. “This hardship is just your plot’s conflict, dear protagonist, and if you get through it, you’ll denouement yourself right into the Happy Ending.”

I don’t believe in happy endings. In fact, I don’t believe in endings. I believe in transitions.

There’s this persistent notion that happiness (or “success”) is an endpoint, an arrived-upon state of being; that if you do the Right Things, you’ll get to a place in your life where you don’t struggle anymore, you don’t have hardship or hurt, you’re just happy and everything is wonderful and Tom Hiddleston wakes you each morning by whisper-singing “You are my Sunshine” into your ear. (By the way, there is MUCH disagreement about which things are the Right Things to do to achieve Eternal Happiness, so good luck picking the right Right Things, anyway. That’s why there is only one Tom Hiddleston.)

This is where the One True Path leads.

There isn’t success, there are only successes. There isn’t happiness, there are only happinesses. And if you want to experience either successes or happinesses, that has to be enough. You can spend a lifetime chasing the state of success and happiness and run right past every single one of the successes and happinesses. Forget “success stories.” Stories with successes and failures and happinesses and sadnesses and all of the things — those are enough.