SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- As our community moves toward racial healing, what responsibility, if any, does the white population have?
KOLR10’s Frances Lin tells us what community activists and leaders have to say about the role of allies and white allies in particular.
“It’s just been a life full of racism,” said Mia Jones, an activist with United Community Change, “my entire experience living in Springfield, Missouri has been a challenge against racism.”
“One time, my brother was at waffle house, and someone was hitting on his girlfriend, and they called him the n-word,” said Casadi Mazurkiewicz, an activist with MeToo Springfield.
Activists in town who have seen and experienced racism first-hand said it’s very much still present, it just looks different now.
“My mom had myself, my brother, and my sisters with her, we were like five, six, and seven years old. And she told us, you brownies get off my porch I would never sell to you,” Jones said.
“You get to control things in a way where you don’t have to wear a white sheet and drag people around trucks anymore or hang us in trees,” said Larry Flenoid, a human rights organizer, “you can leave us rotting in jail. You can deny us from getting a job. You can give us longer sentences than white people would. That’s where you’re hurting us at.”
They told Frances Lin that this year, after George Floyd’s death, more and more white allies joined the fight for equality.
“Our white allies are at the point again where they say okay, it’s time to step up again and help,” said Jones.
“We really can’t turn a blind eye anymore, it’s right in front of our faces,” Mazurkiewicz said.
Activists explained how the role of an ally should look.
“It’s conversation,” Flenoid said, “it’s talking to people.”
“I think it’s really big to not just assume we know what is correct, and actually listen to people of color,” said Mazurkiewicz.
“It is very important that white allies do not overshadow the people that they’re helping,” said Jones.
“White allies are just that, we’re the allies,” said Kris Palmer, another activist with United Community Change, “we’re here to be guided, we’re here to be shown the way.”
And one of the best things to do is listen and point out inappropriate, racist things being said, Even if there are no minorities present.
“A lot of the issues that we have, however, is that white allies are not speaking up until a black person speaks, which could be very hard,” explained Jones.
“The last time I called some people out, it actually created a conversation that changed people,” Palmer said, “they understood what black lives matter is as opposed to all lives matter.”
“We have to be more than doing the bare minimum,” said Mazurkiewicz, “we have to actually be actively telling people, you are being racist, even if you just think it’s funny right now.”
“Even if we’re not friends, we can still respect each other enough not to disrespect each other over our differences,” said Flenoid.
We have full interviews with these community leaders and activists here: