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Allyship In Action

The old adage, big things come in small packages, could not be more true! At least when it comes to describing a recent initiative taken up by a few of my cousins on my Irish American side. I recently published an article about how I’ve felt let down by that side of the family in respect to their collective response (or lack of one) to Black Lives Matter. This note was an awesome surprise to get in the mail at the tail end of Black History Month. My cousins mailed this Black Lives Matter pin to all of my other cousins, aunts and uncles along with a simple card expressing love, lots of it. Which is no small feat as my Irish American family is huge!

This collective action of my four cousins highlights a very effective way for allies to broadcast their support and invite others to reflect on their own feelings and do the same. Being one of two black people in this Irish American family has not always been easy, despite the fact that we are a loving and fairly well connected family. The last four years have been particularly challenging. This card and pin left me with a sense that members of my white family care about an issue that might not effect them personally, as well as an acknowledgement and affirmation of my experience despite any discomfort it might generate. In addition to the card and pin, they made a donation in the family’s name to a non-profit and they sent out a message which described these initiatives to the family and included additional resources for getting smarter about Black Lives Matter and race, in general. So, this is a big thank you to Krissie, Charlotte, John and Michael. This is allyship in action and a job well done.

Oftentimes, well intentioned people get stuck when trying to figure out how to turn their idea of allyship into an action. The actions my cousins took reflect some helpful things to keep in mind when considering being an ally:

-Don’t over think it.

-Start small.

-Keep it simple.

If this inspires you to be an ally in action, let me know!

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