Dear Wannabe “Allies” We Need More Confessions, And Less Apologies
By now, we’ve all watched the cringe-worthy black and white video featuring a slew of white A-listers and a couple of C-Listers, including Julianne Moore, Debra Messing Sarah Paulson, Kristen Bell, Kesha, Justin Theroux and Aaron Paul, soberly taking accountability for their white guilt with dramatic effects.
The lukewarm reception was accompanied by utter confusion from those of us who felt like bored casting directors, examining an audition reel filled with actors who are wildly overacting.
Apparently the NAACP partnered with a group of white celebrities who were eager for a quick fix when it comes to publicly owning how they’ve benefited from the currency of their whiteness in ways that have woefully victimized Black counterparts.
The apology tour of famous, guilt-ridden white people and white-owned corporations seems to rely heavily on assigning a bunch of money and opportunities to Black-owned businesses and initiatives in the hopes of shamelessly buying forgiveness, and earning endorsements that provide protection from scrutiny and “cancellations.”
Recently, notable white women, including Hillary Clinton, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kourtney Kardashian and Julia Roberts partnered with an impressive collection of successful Black women for an Instagram-hosted event that involved the ultimate takeover.
Black women were given permission to celebrate their Blackness on the massive platforms of their white counterparts in an effort to inspire and enlighten mostly white followers, who are in desperate need of education that they wouldn’t ordinarily be privy to.
At least, that’s my formed assessment based on shared information. But ironically, this seemed be more beneficial for white women, who signed up with the objective to generously cater to the appeal of Black women on their terms, and with the assurance that they’ve done their part to make up for the long history of nonchalance and willful ignorance.
Saying sorry when backs are against the wall, and the season of reckoning is suffocating enough to warrant immediate action with the quickness that demonstrates desperation and fear, isn’t exactly the genuine approach.
It doesn’t convince the oppressed that their oppressors have truly reconciled with their problematic history of offenses, and are ready and willing to make systematic changes.
Issuing generic statements of regret and promises or theatrical videos that are laughably ineffective only exacerbates fractured relations, and enforces all the reasons why allyship from white folks who never questioned their weaponized privilege until NOW has been infuriatingly lacking.
Dear wannabe allies, we actually need more confessions, and less apologies.
Here’s the thing, if white folks are serious about “accountability” when it comes to admitting how it took a Black man dying from the deadliness of police brutality in broad daylight to ignite the sudden motivation to be verified “allies” — there has to be an understanding of the fundamentals.
If white Hollywood wants to make it right, start by acknowledging what went wrong in the first place, and why those lethal biases that exalted whiteness over Blackness were permitted to dominate the industry, until the creation of a hashtag forced mandated revisions that are still pending.
White talents and creatives should seize this unprecedented moment in history to confess how their enviable career trajectories were furnished at the expense of Black counterparts, who weren’t able to enjoy those privileges, due to the exclusion clause that fatefully resulted in the wasteland of unfulfilled dreams and stalled ambitions.
Being an ally takes the level of commitment that can’t be accomplished with rushed sorries and the briefly shared spaces that don’t make much of an impact; with the minimal investment that barely scratches the surface of accountability and the pledge to make amends in a tangible way.
Often times less is more, and that’s glaringly obvious when performative pieces are unleashed, and the tone deafness overtakes the best intentions of white celebrities, who wrongly concluded that being anchored with the blessing of a historically Black civil rights organization would do the trick of public cleansing.
Taking ownership of the vital role you’ve played in heightening societal ills plaguing Black people for centuries, requires the humility to take the attention off your theatrically-inclined apology, or the viral headlines blaring the large amount of donations that have been awarded for thunderous applause.
Stop pleading for forgiveness with the flair of a seasoned performer with accessible white tears. And don’t rely on the wealth accrued from systemically devaluing Blackness with the exaltation of whiteness to purchase approvals, that would’ve been available if doing the right thing didn’t demand the horrors of Black pain and death.
Own your shit, and document why things were shitty for so long, and then provide the long-term plan for recovery and refunds.
Don’t tell us what we already know.
Explain why it took so damn long to finally utilize your viability, for the sake of calling out the detrimental nature of your privilege by highlighting why:
Black Lives Matter
You can’t say you’re sorry without confessing your gross negligence. That’s the definition of accountability and your white guilt will thank you.