How to Not be Tone Deaf: A Brief Guide to Being an Ally to Black People

19 June 2020

By Chasidy Palmer

Author's Note:  Although I am comfortable with educating people about race, not all Black people feel the same way. Many of the resources listed below are free and widely accessible to use to educate yourself and others about race. Take the initiative to use the resources available to you.

In early June, our firm posted a tweet regarding our stance and our support for Black lives. It is important to recognize that we must take action to supplement our stance. It is critical to be sensitive to the experiences of Black people, and to acknowledge their struggles without being patronizing or disingenuous. This includes making strides toward being an ally to the cause. We understand that allyship requires long-term commitment. We are taking a break from our regularly scheduled content to and instead using this platform to educate and provide resources for those who want to be better allies.

  1. Educating yourselves about Black issues is imperative. This can be completed in many ways such as reading literature about different Black experiences, listening to stories of Black people, and watching documentaries pertaining to Black experiences. This is a time to refrain from color-blindness and recognise the struggles that Black people go through. This is also the time to acknowledge your privilege and the role it plays in anti-Blackness. There are a plethora of writers, academics and creatives that explores the history and current challenges of Black people. Furthermore, there are continuing education classes available regarding these topics that are edifying. If available, consult your Human Resources Officer or Diversity and Inclusion Officers for more information.                                                .                                                                            
  2. Supplement your education by having real conversations about race, the experiences of Black people with your colleagues. Be respectful when approaching people about these conversations. Please remember, you are not owed a conversation. Although there are some shared characteristics, the Black experience is not homogenous. If presented with the opportunity, I recommend talking to different Black people, to gain further knowledge about the intersection of race and other characteristics such as gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and religious affiliation and their subsequent experience. Ask thoughtful questions with the intent of learning from the individual you are conversing with. Do not engage in “oppression olympics” in order to appear more knowledgeable than others. Be open to correction about your own actions as well as completing steps towards correcting your behavior.                                                                                                                                                                             
  3. As you receive information, use your platform to influence and educate those around you. This can range from correcting yourself and others when racial slurs and offensive statements are being used, to revising or creating official workplace policies with respect to microaggressions towards Black people and other people of color. Work towards diversity and inclusion in your workplace. Do not be a bystander when witnessing a wrongdoing against a Black person. However, allyship is not limited to the workplace. It can also be extended by donating to organizations aimed providing aid for Black people.

Allyship is not completed in a week. Allyship goes beyond just posting a picture on social media or only acknowledging Black struggles during February. It requires long term commitment to educating your selves and others about Black issues. It requires the ability and to receive correction in order to reflect inwardly about past actions. It requires a genuine commitment to change.


Resources for information on racism and how to be an ally:


Where to donate:


Black-owned businesses in Toronto:


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