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How To Be A Better Ally: An Open Letter To White Folks

On this episode of Another Round, producer Meg Cramer gives priceless advice to well-meaning people who want to do better.

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White people. They have their missteps, but they're mostly okay.

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Taylor Swift, for example, caught a lot of heat for interrupting Nicki Minaj's completely valid rant on race and the music biz and making it about her.

We at Another Round get TONS of questions from white people asking us how they can be better allies, and while we appreciate the drive to be better—people of color can't be expected to be everyone's diversity counselors. It's an unfair burden.

You know who should help you, though? Your fellow white people!

And that's what our brilliant producer, Meg Cramer, does in this short episode—she gives amazing, priceless advice on how white people can take themselves out of the spotlight, check their privilege, and become better allies in the fight for equality.

Below is the text the email she sent to a white person who wrote in with this question. It's just a rough draft and Meg isn't an expert on allyship, but her advice is PERFECT and should be heard by everybody looking to do better.

Dear Listener,

Meg Cramer, here, one of the producers who works on Another Round. This is a great question, and one that I think about all the time, especially as a white woman producing a show for an intended audience that doesn't include me. I don't have a complete answer, but here are a few things I think about:

I try to take on the work of understanding my own privilege without asking anyone else to explain it or help me feel better about having it. I learned a lot about that from this essay. Sometimes I slip up. Like when I tell people that, even though I'm from the suburbs, I'm not from the rich suburbs. As if it matters that I only have some of the white privilege, not all of it.

Have you ever had a conversation with a feminist man come grinding to a halt because he starts to complain about how feminists use language that excludes men, even the feminist men? ("Not all men...") I have! Being a good ally often means not being included in the conversation, because the conversation isn't about you. It's good to listen. If you feel uncomfortable and excluded because you're white, you should own those feelings.

When there is a conversation happening in the news or on Twitter or among activists or writers that I think is important, I try to find a way to amplify it. Listen and amplify. Listen and amplify. These days, that means that I tell a lot of white people to listen to Another Round. Amplifying the opinions and ideas of other people is a way to participate without taking up space.

In that vein - I talk to other white people about racism. Especially the older people in my family who have an outdated idea of what it means to be progressive.

Lastly: If you feel angry, sad, desperate, and helpless in the face of individual and institutional racism in America, you're not the only one. But that's no excuse for ignorance. You have the whole Internet! The public library system! There are lots of ways to learn. Here are a few places you can go from here:

12 Ways to Be a White Ally to Black People

11 Things White People Can Do to Be Real Anti-Racist Allies

13 Must-Reads For The Black Feminist

Good luck, and thanks so much for listening to Another Round.

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We also asked white people on Twitter for advice they would give to other white folks, and here is some of what they said:

Don't get defensive, seek the spotlight, or make things about yourself.

@anotherround When you're feeling defensive when challenged by POC, just stop -- don't engage, but step back & think. It's not about you.

@anotherround Support, bt don't make it abt yourself. Be there, bt be in the background. The conversation isn't about white people. At all.

When you hear your fellow white folks saying racist things, say something.

@anotherround Don't stay quiet when you here or see racism, speak up and make others question their actions.

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@anotherround And don't stand for white ppl nonsense. Call that shit out when you hear it. And if you get called out, learn why & fix it.

@anotherround Talk to the other white people in our social circles and try to help them question racist assumptions / attitudes.

And above all, listen.

@anotherround listen! Listen without the purpose of argument.

@anotherround @brokeymcpoverty something I have to frequently remind myself: "shut up & listen every now & again you might learn something"

@anotherround don't expect POC to teach you, but when they talk/write, LISTEN and don't question their truth.

Another Round is a great place to start listening! Subscribe on iTunes and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton cover everything from race, gender and pop culture to squirrels, mangoes, and bad jokes, all in one boozy podcast.

Contact Another Round at julia.furlan+anotherround@buzzfeed.com.

Thirty-something from Louisville, KY. Made of bourbon and awesome.

Contact Tracy Clayton at tracy.clayton@buzzfeed.com.

heben@buzzfeed.com

Contact Heben Nigatu at heben@buzzfeed.com.

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