So in the past year, human rights and civil rights violations came at its peak. People were stuck in their homes and things were shut down. Almost every day, an unarmed black person was killed unjustly. Hate crimes and discrimination was rampant. There was a need for justice and advocacy.
In the mist of that time, my thought was “How do I advocate for justice in my own world?” I can’t hide from it. Though I can’t save the whole world, I can be effective in my community.
I’m not going to lie: I did not go to protests then and I was not donating to any organizations. I was an unemployed, post-graduate struggling mentally, physically, and emotionally.
For most of my life, I have struggled with racial identity. It carried with the statements of not being black enough, “acting white,” and selling out all because of the environments I interacted in. I wanted to help my community but I did not want to hurt my white friends. I always hid parts of myself to my white friends out of fear of losing them. So that was where I was the summer of 2020, at a crossroads.
But as I researched and listened to different sources, a revelation came: Not everyone’s advocacy for justice looks the same. You have find out your own personal way to advocate for other groups.
What a relief.
I did not have to do what everyone else is doing. I can be my own person and advocate in my own way. So what was that? Well, I started sharing my story and speaking out about my experiences with discrimination. I had a diverse following so why not give perspective. Why not be transparent of the experiences that shaped me.
For the most part, people listened and empathized with me. I choose who to give more knowledge to if someone personally reached out privately. I did not allow certain narratives to distort the work I wanted to do in educating others. There were some who did not want to understand and wanted to refute everything I said. I even had people tell me I was race-baiting or making everything about race. For that response, I blocked them.
In therapy, my therapist told me how my purpose is being a bridge. My experiences are unique but no less black nor less white. I was just Bianca. I have always interacted with different people in my life and that is nothing to be ashamed of. So why not use that skill to bring people together. To find common ground and open eyes, hearts, and minds.
If you are struggling in how to be an ally and advocate for others, find what works for you. You know yourself well to know what you can handle. Everyone does things different and that is just fine. Do what works for you.
Sources I look to for news and ways to advocate is the NAACP, AND Campaign, ACLU, and Human Rights Watch. I am looking to expand my horizons so tell what you use as sources. It is a start. But do the research for you will get a worldview to personally and effectively serve your community.
Lastly, You and I can do our best. A win for me is when a person tells me, “Thank you for sharing. I will consider that in my own life. What you said made me think in another way I never thought.” Change starts with the heart. My form of advocacy is to tell my experiences and listen to others to cultivate a heart change that creates stronger allies. Remember we are stronger together and every little act towards justice can make a bigger change.