Black Lives Matter protests have spread around the world, from major cities, to the kind of small towns that haven’t had any protests in years. White people have wanted to, and in many cases have been invited to, support the protests and join the struggle against white supremacy.
However. There are different ways to do this, and some are lot better than others. We’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts (or do’s and don’ts) based on suggestions given to us (the white authors of this article) by black people, and other people of colour involved in the BLM movement. Views are of course by no means universal, but there is a common thread of criticism that we hope this helps to spread.
So my fellow white anarchists, white leftists, white accomplices, and even you, well meaning white liberal friend I haven’t spoken to since school, this list is for you.
✔️Do take the time to look for black people organising demos in your area
❌Don’t rush to call your own white organised demo
✔️Do listen to black people speaking at the demonstrations
❌Don’t take the stage to share your Very Important White Opinions™
✔️Do make placards and banners using the slogans popular in BLM movements, especially local ones
❌Don’t cover them in the branding of your political group as an advertising exercise
✔️Do use the resources you have, and contact black groups to offer them, for example:
✔️Do hand out bottles of water, PPE and food
✔️Do offer to act as a street medic, cop watcher, or legal observer
✔️Do help organise training so new black activists can do the above
❌Don’t just show up and start selling your paper
✔️Do call out your white friends for their racism and bad takes
❌Don’t constantly argue ‘devils advocate’ with your black friends
✔️Do take a mask, and keep it on
✔️Do take hand sanitizer, and use it
✔️Do take spare PPE
❌Don’t go if you’ve got a cough
❌Don’t unnecessarily increase the risk of coronavirus
❌Don’t start shouting ‘fuck the police’ when no one else is
✔️Do join in shouting ‘fuck the police’ if groups of black people start it
✔️Do give your money to black led groups and to individuals who need it
✔️Do convince your group, union branch, workplace, to do likewise.
❌Don’t tell all your black friends about it and then pause as if waiting for applause
✔️Do offer to share legal advice, bust cards, or tips on dealing with protest policing if useful
❌Don’t assume you know more than black protest organisers
✔️Do put yourself between the police and the crowd, if you are able to tough it out or risk arrest
❌Don’t try and start a fight with a so far placid group of cops to show how tough you are
❌Don’t repeat the patronising narrative that riots can only be cause by white people ‘tricking’ black people into them
✔️Do go out of your way to share the speeches and stories that black people posted publicly from the demonstration you attended
❌Don’t treat this as a photo opportunity, especially when your selfies may lead to criminal charges for others
✔️Do realise you are going to fuck up. We all fuck up.
❌Don’t react defensively when someone points out you’ve fucked up.
❌Don’t come if you want to be the centre of attention
❌Don’t think the important thing is how many new people you can add to your group
❌Don’t get in an argument with black demonstrators about any of the above
❌Don’t assume this list is exhaustive. Search for more.
✔️Do realise this is a time to support a movement you don’t control
✔️Do come, when invited, and if you are prepared to follow the lead of black people in the crowd.
Our thanks to the people who help us to improve by using their time, experience, and critique. If wish to add to this list, criticise it, or suggest we change it’s wording, get in touch with us via social media or email. ■