Why I’m Choosing to Ask a Black Stranger How to Be a Better Ally, Even Though Google is Free

We’re living through history right now. America hasn’t seen racial unrest and uprising like this since the Rodney King riots, since the Civil Rights Movement. And as a white person, it’s my duty to make sure that I’m doing what I can to be an effective anti-racist, and part of that means putting the work in. That’s why I’m choosing to reach out to a Black stranger for advice on how to be a better ally, despite Google being right there and totally free to use. If I’m going to be a good ally, I need as much information as I can get. Whether it’s about police brutality, medical disparities, Jim Crow laws, or the slave trade, I want to make sure that I am educated in a well-rounded way about anything to do with Black issues. That’s why I go straight to a primary source: a Black person. They have the answers. And while I could easily look up those answers on Google because plenty of Black authors, educators, and historians have made them readily available on the internet, I think it’s probably a little simpler to just slide into some Black person that I don’t even know’s DMs and have them point me in the right direction. I just trust it more! Don’t get me wrong, I acknowledge the place of economic privilege I’m coming from. It’s a huge deal to have access to a site like Google, when people all over the world and even in this very country don’t. And sure, I could probably draw a line between recognizing my privilege in this way and recognizing the amount of privilege it would take to blindly ask a Black person who has no idea who I am to take time out of their day to educate me when I am very capable of educating myself. But I don’t really feel like thinking that critically, and sometimes reading a lot is exhausting. Believe me, if I had a Black friend, I would absolutely ask them to do this work for me instead of a stranger. But I don’t have any, in no small part because I’ve driven them all away with my constant asks for links and facts about Blackness that I could undoubtedly just look up myself on Google, or Bing, or AskJeeves and also requests for new hip hop tracks that they’ve been listening to. Not that I ever assumed that my Black friends would automatically know a ton about hip hop. But they normally do, right? Look, I care deeply about the plight of Black people in this country (note that I almost called them African-Americans, but I asked a Black person awhile back what they preferred and I took their answer to speak for the whole community). I want to do and know as much as I can to be an excellent ally. And that’s why I turn to the community at large to find my information. That way, I know it’s coming from an accurate source, I don’t have to put even an iota of work in myself, and they can pat me on the back for being such a good white person. It’s the least I can do!

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