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Episode 41 – Difficult Conversations & How to Be an Ally to Our Black Friends

Milspouse Matters Episode 41 with Jen McDonald

Milspouse Matters Episode 41 with Jen McDonald

Difficult Conversations—are you having them? 

Today’s episode is a bit shorter and different than originally intended. I had a huge PCS resource episode all lined up, but in light of what’s been going on in our country the past couple of weeks, I just couldn’t continue with it as if things were normal.

Milspouse Matters Episode 41 with Jen McDonald quote how to be an ally to our black friends

With the killing of George Floyd on May 25 at the hands of a police officer while other police looked on, and the ensuing protests and riots, the topics of racism and race relations are at the forefront of everyone’s mind and all over social media and in our daily conversations. What happened was evil. There’s no way around it. 

I’ve wondered what to say, if I’ll say it wrong, and how to even approach this. So please bear with me. I’ve been talking to some of my black friends both in real life and online, and I wanted to address this, but please know that I am treading lightly and if I make a misstep or say something not quite the right way, it is on me. 

I’m just going to be honest. In conversations with white people, we all say racism and the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others who’ve died, well we say it’s terrible, but I think maybe see it as an exception. For my black friends, it’s indicative of a lurking problem that won’t go away, this problem of racism. For them, it’s a pattern. 

I would think every normal person condemns the death of George Floyd. Most police condemn it. It was horrible to see his life taken. But it reveals that something is broken. That we can all do better. That even if we think we’re not racist, there are still ways we can try to do better as a society and as individuals. 

I feel like a lot of us are having some difficult conversations we’ve never had before. It’s easier sometimes to just leave it alone, to not talk about such hard things. Racism. Injustice. Maybe our own part in it. 

First off, to my black friends….I see you. I hear you. I am sorry if I have failed you in the past. But it is not your responsibility to make me feel better about this. 

So on this episode, I want to talk to those of you who are trying to become good allies to our black friends and families. I am here and I am trying. But it is not up to our black friends to hold our hands and make us feel better about this. They’re exhausted. They’re tired. They’re tired of fighting. 

Milspouse Matters Episode 41 with Jen McDonald quote how to be an ally to our black friends

It’s ok to be learning. It’s ok to change your mind about something you may have always believed and now realize you had it wrong. It’s ok to realize maybe you haven’t done things well in the past and try to do better. We have to do better. 

No one should be marginalized or made to feel less than based on anything about them.

I will never understand everything my black friends go through; it’s just not possible. But I can listen and learn, and I will always support them. I want to create space for other voices to be amplified.

This is not a safe or easy topic. Please don’t misunderstand me. What I’m doing here is not trying to make myself feel better. But it’s a topic we can’t ignore.

So I’m going to share some advice I’ve been given over the past few days, then point you to some resources if you’re looking to learn more, grow more, and help your kids as they grow up. I think posting on social media is valid, talking is valid, but where do we go from here? We can’t stop fighting racism because it stops trending. 

Milspouse Matters Episode 41 with Jen McDonald quote

Steven Furtick says, “Before you make a stand for something, first you have to take a seat. “

So to my white friends, it’s past time for us to take a seat. It’s time to listen, to learn, and to be humble.

On this episode, I’m sharing some ideas and tips from black friends and the greater community about how to be a better ally to our black friends if you’re wanting to educate yourself, learn more about what you can do, and to help talk through some of these issues and educate your kids. Below are some resources, but please listen to the entire episode for even more.

Some Ways to be an Ally to Our Black Friends and Community

Here’s some advice and tips from black friends: 

“Limit your response to what is of real, tangible help to black people. Give money, call your reps, protect black people at protests, elevate our work and voices. Don’t make us swim through your tears while we fight. “

(remind yourself) “I will not tell black folks how to feel, protest, or mourn.”

From a pastor: ”People will text me about these issues, but they won’t talk about it out loud or publicly. You need to say this is wrong. This isn’t just about race, it’s about justice. “

From a friend’s post today:

“Marginalized people do not have to: 

  • Make you feel better
  • Educate you
  • Debate or prove their oppression to you
  • Make you feel comfortable
  • Give your opinion equal weight to their experiences
  • Earn your respect in order to be treated as human.”

Resources for Growth

Read books to your kids that feature people of color as the protagonist or hero. Read about black history. Talk about it and have the difficult discussions.

Some of my favorite books that I read growing up or read to my kids were:

Do a library search for other heroes like Martin Luther King, Jr., poets like Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and others.

Take a look around your circle. If there’s not enough diversity, change it. Be an ally!  

If you haven’t found them already, here are a few amazing black military spouse bloggers and podcasters to follow:

Some questions to ask yourself if you’re wanting to be a better ally to our black friends (from the Steven Furtick and John Gray discussion):

Do I see things how God sees them? 

Do I co-sign racism with my silence? 

Am I contributing the problem with my indifference? 

Milspouse Matters Episode 41 with Jen McDonald quote

Become the bridge…we don’t need anymore soft kumbayas. (John Gray)

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Milspouse Matters Episode 41 with Jen McDonald Pinterest image Difficult Conversations and How to Be An Ally to Our Black Friends

Thanks for Listening,

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