Allyship: Listening, Supporting, Acting

Andrew Wolk
Jun 29, 2020

In my last blog post, I wrote that those of us who are White have an obligation to go on an intentional journey of allyship—no matter how messy and uncomfortable it may be. It's important I repeat the definition of allyship: an active, consistent, and arduous practice of unlearning and reevaluating, in which a person in a position of privilege and power seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group.

Over these recent weeks, it has become clear to me that this journey should be ongoing. The widespread protests are beginning to result in a hopeful and sustained movement to reverse centuries of injustice, and White people's role is essential to staying the course.

I have begun my own journey by doing a lot more intentional listening to better understand what support and action—not just words—should look like. Part of that involved speaking again with David Delmar Senties, the Executive Director of Resilient Coders. He and his work were the subject of two of my blog posts last October: "Do Classism and Racism Keep People from Being Hired?" and "Whiteness Opens Doors."

In our recent follow-up conversation, we talked about the aftermath of the brutal killing of George Floyd, which has shed a searing light on the dangers and indignities that many people of color, especially Black people, face every single day—on the streets, and in every facet of American life. David proclaims, "This is not a new America; this is the same America. These are the same realities of injustice. What we have right now is an opportunity, because people are listening—and now that people are listening, my hope that I want to put out into the universe is that people don't stop at listening, they transmute that to action."

David gets specific about that. He's been working for years to dismantle one particularly insidious racial injustice—the systemic bias that prevents so many low-income people of color from accessing the kinds of high-growth careers that can change lives and entire communities. He challenges anti-racism allies to stop just tweeting #BlackLivesMatter and start hiring Black people in good-paying jobs.

You can listen to my conversations with David from last October and my recent follow-up, and learn more about what action looks like, at the Finding Common Purpose podcast, Taking the Protests to the Office. And don't miss this recent opinion piece by David Leonhardt of the New York Times on the actual wage gap between White and Black workers.