I Am an Ally

Note: This post is something i did for myself. Sort of a recommitting myself to what I stand for. I’m not trying to brag or throw it in people’s face or look for compliment or thank you’s. It was purely to remind myself of why I do this and what I stand for.

As an ally to people of color:

I commit to stand behind you in solidarity.
I commit to amplifying your voices when the system refuses to listen.
I commit to not being silent and complacent.
I commit to be listen and be silent when it is not my place to speak.
I commit to never tell a person of color how their movement could be “better” or how it should be run.
I commit to the idea that it is not my place to judge people of color and the way they react and feel about the events occurring in our country and our world.
I commit to never undermine a person of color’s experiences as illegitimate or invalid.
I commit to always think about the message I am sending as a white person in this movement.
I commit to not ignore racism and to educate when I can.
I commit to keep myself updated and educated on current issues.
I commit to not tokenize people of color and recognize that I can educate myself through other means.
I commit to checking my white privilege on a regular basis and always being open to new ideas and opinions.
I commit to not be a complacent part of the system and not ride my white privilege through life to make it easier for myself.
I commit to documenting the events I attend and making other white people aware of what is actually occurring in the movement.
I commit to understanding that this list of commitments is never finished and I will update it every time I learn how to be a better ally.

I, Jason Baskette, commit to being an ally to people of color and to always strive to better myself as an ally.

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White Privilege While Traveling by Plane

I was thinking earlier today about what I could and couldn’t bring on the plane, seeing as I fly back to my home state in 5 days. An interesting concept came to mind, what kinds of privilege do I hold, as a white person, when it comes to traveling by plane? A lot probably. One incident that came to mind was something that happened to me last year. In the moment, it never even crossed my mind that there was a lot of privilege involved.

I was on the way home from Indiana and had just put my bag in on the security belt. I was in the process of putting on my shoes when a TSA agent came over to me with my back pack. I immediately thought, “Uh oh, did I forget to put my pocket knife in my checked bag?” I found out when I got home that I, indeed, had forgotten to put my pocket knife in my checked bag. However, that was not the reason they had questioned the content of my bag.

They asked me what was in my bag that was shaped like a brick. I paused for a minute and thought about it. Then I realized my step mom had packed blocks of cheese wrapped in aluminum foil in my bag. I immediately said, “Oh yea, my step mom packed me cheese. That’s probably what it is.”

He said, “oh ok,” and put the bag back through the machine.

Now, I was expecting him to take it out on the other end and search it. He never did. I was slightly confused, especially considering the blocks of cheese, wrapped in aluminum foil, in a baggy probably looked a lot like drugs. I shrugged it off and kept going. What I didn’t think of at the time was, what would have happened if I wasn’t white? Lets be honest, they definitely would have searched my entire bag. They would have found my pocket knife. I also would have gotten more than “oh ok,” from the TSA agent.

Not only did they let me go without searching my bag or confiscating my pocket knife, they didn’t even bat an eye when I said it was only cheese. They didn’t open the cheese to make sure it was in fact cheese. They simply put my bag through again and let me go. That seems absurd to me. That never would have been the case if I had been a person of color. They would have been rude when asking what was in my bag. They definitely would have searched it and confiscated my pocket knife and potentially would have harassed me and made me late for my plane.

So what other privileges do I hold as a white person in an airport? I can only speculate as to what these privileges may be, but I do know I’m very unlikely to be harassed at an airport. I don’t get weird looks or stared at like I don’t belong in an airport or like I’m a threat to people’s lives. I don’t get questioned at the security check point. I don’t get “randomly searched”. I’ve never been late to my plane because of how the TSA reacted to my very existence in an airport. I’ve never had a problem checking in or checking my bags or getting through a security line or even boarding the plane. I’ve never felt uncomfortable because of my race while sitting through a flight and I’ve never been racially profiled in any circumstance let alone while traveling in an airport.

Some of these things are things I had thought were due to the amount of experience I have flying. I’ve been flying since I was a kid and I know my way around pretty much any airport you put me in. However, the ease in traveling that I experience isn’t completely due to the fact that I’ve been flying for over a decade. It is, without a doubt, due to white privilege and people’s assumption that I am not a threat to them in an airport because I am white.

What other privileges do I have as a white person while traveling by plane?

Feminist Friday: Audre Lorde; then a change of heart

I am, therefore I write

I hesitate slightly in posting this particular piece. Not at all because I take issue with it, but because I have to wonder how it might be judged in the face of all that has been said and written about black lives and black experience in the recent weeks and months. I’m not concerned if anyone chooses to critique my thoughts. Feel free. My concern is that by posting this essay/speech by Audre Lorde from 1984, I may be perceived as perpetuating the very thing that she so strongly spoke against with her words.

The reason for pulling Lorde’s words from my archives though is simple in my opinion. Her words, at the time, were applied to the lived experience of black women, specifically the lesbian, black woman. Lorde’s words meant to inform a white feminist community that black feminist lived experience was far different from their own, and as…

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Ending Police Brutality: It’s Not That Simple

The Hopeful Realist

The smart phone videos of cops harassing or beating unarmed Black males have exploded on social media. Newspaper articles discuss the various difficulties involved in prosecuting police for excessive force, murder, etc. Video pundits left and right proclaim or admit that something is just not right. They acknowledge that Black parents have to train their boys to be cautious when confronted by a policeman or they will face extreme danger.

Law enforcement officials scramble to demonstrate their commitment to improving “training” and “cultural awareness.” Law professors ponder the possibilities of revamping the procedures for assembling grand juries when an officer has killed another unarmed Black child or young Black man. Politicians pontificate on how to restore the Black man’s “trust” in police and the justice system – as usual, they get the cart before the horse.

Well, none of them seem to get it. Police abuse and killings of Black…

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“Dear White People”

Dear white people,

If you’re going to a rally or demonstration, THINK about the message you should be sending as a white person. Your job as an ally is too stand behind people of color in solidarity. Your job is to amplify their message. Do NOT take their words and hold up a sign that means nothing for a white person. “We cant breathe.”, “We are all Mike Brown.”, “Hands up, Dont shoot.”, and other phrases DO NOT hold the meaning you think they do if you are saying them as a white person. You are not Mike Brown. You are not being oppressed and put in positions where hands up don’t shoot means anything significant or where you will have to say I can’t breathe, etc. Remember that you are white. Remember those statements have VERY different meanings coming from you vs a person of color. Stand behind them in solidarity and support. Not in front of them or speaking for them or anything else. This is about people of color, specifically black lives. Not us white folk. WE can breathe. WE don’t have to put our hands up. Because we’re white. White privilege folks. Remember what it is. Remember what it means. Understand what message you’re sending.

Much love
A white ally.

“Dear White People”

Dear white people,

If someone in a particular movement says something about white people out of anger and frustration, don’t go off on them. Don’t tell them they shouldn’t be saying negative things about white people cause not all white people are bad and some are supporting the movement. Just stop. Take a step back and look at why they’re saying that. It’s not directed at you. It’s directed at the asshats that continue to hurt and degrade people of color and other minorities. Stop detracting from the movement. Stop changing the conversation from the bigger picture to being about yourself. This isn’t about you. Get over yourself and support your friends.

Sincerely,

White guy who COMPLETELY understands why so many people hate on white people.