Black Lives Matter protest in Pensacola, Florida

Power Dynamics are Literally Black and White

Samantha Jackson

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In order to understand how anti-racism work is navigated, we must address power dynamics and lived experiences. For me, this is a basic concept, but for many, it is not. I walk my life as a physically abled Black woman. If I want to be an ally to the disability community, I try to be an ally by listening and not telling them what is best. I let them guide me to what I can do to be a better ally. It isn’t my lived experience. My opinions have no weight on the topic of physical disability.

If you’re white and you want to be an ally to people of color, you listen to what we are trying to say. You don’t tell us what is best. You listen. Your opinions have no weight on the topic of race.

If you’re a male and you want to be an ally to women, you listen to what we are trying to say. You don’t tell us what is best. You listen. Your opinions have no weight in terms of feminism.

Part of white people’s responsibility to anti-racism work is giving marginalized communities time to talk to you about their their lived experiences. You are the dominant culture. Many times, we are not offered the opportunity to speak freely.

Some things to keep in mind in black and white interpersonal relationships:

1) Black and white people never enter the conversation from the same place. The white person always enters from a higher “starting point”.

2) White people are the dominant culture. No matter the length or depth of the friendship, white people are always the oppressor to Black people.

3) Black people are not required to educate you on anti-racism. Even your friends.

Understanding power dynamics (white people always have power in the dominant culture) is important when navigating anti-racism work.

Part of how we got to Trump because well meaning people wanted to “help” and weren’t listening to those actually marginalized. We do not need anymore white saviors.

Listen more, talk less.

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Samantha Jackson

community organizer / intersectional feminist / Take That & NKOTB fan / fashion enthusiast