White people say they want to be an ally to black people. But are they ready for sacrifice?

The truth is, genuine allyship is not kindness, it is not a charitable act, nor is it even a personal commitment to hold anti-racist ideals – it is a fall from grace. Real allyship enacted by White Americans, with a clear objective to make equitable the lived experiences of individuals across racial lines, means a willingness to lose things. Not just the extra $50 in one’s monthly budget by way of donating to an organization working towards racial justice. I mean palpable, incalculable loss. The loss of the charmed life associated with being a White person in America. Refusing a pay raise at one’s job and insisting that it be reallocated to co-workers of color who are undoubtedly being underpaid. The loss of potentially every close relationship with other White friends and family members who refuse to acknowledge or amend their behaviors that reinforce systemic oppression. The loss of bodily safety, by way of physically intervening when violence is being inflicted on to Black bodies.

This notion, one of true allyship, extends so far beyond the purview of contemporary White engagement with racial justice that it seems fanciful; almost laughable. I hardly ever allow myself the mental space to contemplate it. To wonder, if the White people in my life could hit a button and instantly remove the privileges afforded to them along racial lines, would they hit that button? Would they truly want to wake up tomorrow, in an America in which my life mattered just as much as theirs, if it came at the cost of all they have come to know and enjoy in the vein of White privilege? To expect true allyship from the White people in my life would be to ask them to be willing to sacrifice the thing that they covet most, though they may never be truly conscious of it: their Whiteness. So, I don’t. I respond to each message I receive with “thank you for thinking of me”, place my phone face downward on my desk, and prepare for another day of navigating White America.