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:
- Guidelines for Being Strong White Allies by Paul Kivel
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism by Dr. Robin DiAngelo
- “Allies,” the Time for Your Silence has Expired by Tawnya Denise Anderson
- 11 Ways White America Avoids Taking Responsibility for its Racism by Dr. Robin DiAngelo
- Only White People Can Save Themselves from Racism and White Supremacism by Baynard Woods