• Allie Heemstra

My heart is breaking—and here’s what I’m doing about it.

Watching videos of parents explaining to their Black children how to protect themselves from the police. Reading statistics about just how wide-reaching the systemic injustice in our country is, and waking up to my own complacency. Hearing stories from people of color about the pervasive fear and hate they have to live with every day. And the silence, denial, and gaslighting from people who look, sound, and grew up like me—white, Christian, and privileged. Watching George Floyd being killed.


My heart is breaking. I know yours is too.


The reality is, I don’t know what to say. I don’t have a tidy three-point blog post about how to be a good ally. I’m worried about saying the wrong thing. But I’m more concerned about the danger and hurt caused by not saying anything.


Over the last two weeks, I keep thinking about this quote from Brené Brown.


How do you talk about race? You first listen about race. You will make a lot of mistakes. It will be super uncomfortable. And there’s no way to talk about it without getting some criticism. But you can’t be silent. To opt out of conversations about privilege and oppression because they make you uncomfortable is the epitome of privilege.


I want to lean into difficult conversations. I don’t want to let my fear of offending someone be what drives my decisions. As a business owner, a leader in my community, a daughter, sister, friend, and a marketer, I want to start by listening and asking more questions.


I want to actively acknowledge how privilege plays a part in my life and actively work, vote, and speak out against the systems that withhold those same privileges from others.


I want to speak up, to call out injustice and speak my support, whether that’s in the words I write as a marketer or responding to a racist comment made by someone I know.


I want to post, re-share, and speak publicly about being anti-racist. But I don’t ever want those posts to be motivated by wanting to feel or look good, a marketing opportunity, or a way to seek out approval or special recognition.


For every post or reshare or public comment, I hope there are a dozen real conversations, genuine actions taken to create lasting change, and follow through on the support I am promising.


I want to sit with my uncomfortable feelings of guilt, overwhelm, and hurt—to see them as an important part of this process. However, I don’t want to act from my guilt or shame, but rather to respond from a place of responsibility and agency.


I want to take responsibility for my own education and unlearning. I want to actively seek out authors, podcasts, and resources that help me understand the larger systems of injustice, so I can be informed in how I think, talk, act, and vote.


And I want the work I do as a marketer to help uplift the voice of those who haven’t felt like they can be heard. I want to help businesses and organizations support, lift up, and empower Black men, women, and children. I want to be known as someone who leads with empathy and bravery.


And I’d love to have you, dear reader, join me.


A lot of the ideas and language in this post did not come from me. Here are some of the resources I’m using to learn and unlearn right now:


Article: What is Allyship? from PeerNet BC

Book: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Video: Killer Mike’s Interview in Atlanta

Podcast: How to Be an Antiracist with Brene Brown and Ibram X. Kendi

Social Media: Following @rachael.cargle, @thegreatunlearn, @austinchanning, @ijeomaoluo, @ibramxk, @cleowade

© 2020 by Allie Illuminates. All rights reserved.