Race in America
Keep Your Good Intentions — If You Want to Show Up for People From Marginalized Identity Groups, try Acting Intentionally.
It’s 2022. By now, most people have heard that when it comes to race, intentions don’t matter. But what if they do?
Not in the I-had-good-intentions-so-you-can’t-call-me-on-my-actions type way — that’s not flying in 2022. As Jamie Utt told everyday feminism: “What we need to realize is that when it comes to people’s lives and identities, the impact of our actions can be profound and wide-reaching. And that’s far more important than the question of our intent.”
That’s still true. Your intentions do not, nor have they ever, negated the impact of your actions.
Imagine yourself behind the wheel of a car. The make and model of your vehicle is privilege. You’re on Life highway, heading north, and suddenly — you hit someone! You didn’t mean to. You didn’t even see them. And really, it was just a scratch. And why were they walking on the highway anyway? Isn’t hitchhiking illegal?
And it seemed like they had been hit before, so why is it your fault they keep getting hit? Come to think of it, this isn’t even your car really your car — it’s your grandfather’s car, and yes, he’s dead, and yes, you’re driving, but you shouldn’t be held responsible. You’re a new driver.
This is how y’all sound when you try to use good intentions to excuse the harmful impact of your actions. ‘Oops, I didn’t mean to’ covers spilled milk and self-cut bangs, not pain, damage, and death.
Keep your good intentions. If you want to show up for people from marginalized identity groups, try acting intentionally.
Slow down. Pay attention to your surroundings and the people you share the road with. Acknowledge that you’re in a car, and that navigating the road in a car is easier and safer than biking, walking, or skateboarding through life.
It’s simple, it’s just not easy.
As a race educator, I constantly encounter people who think allyship is about stopping to be a good Samaritan, picking up hitchhikers, or getting out of the car and walking with ‘the common man.’