Two University of Wisconsin alumni held an online discussion Tuesday evening on the importance of knowing Black history when being an ally of the Black community.
The discussion — led by Madison-based pastor Alex Gee and University of Texas Austin Associate Professor Terence Green — was in collaboration with Justified Anger, an initiative of the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership and Development that sponsors monthly talks on allyship.
Green described allyship using a sidewalk allegory — if a moving walkway symbolized the trajectory of white U.S. history, an ally would cut the power on the walkway.
“In order for us to live collectively, we have got to dismantle this and build something radically different,” Green said.
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Green and Gee said Black history is American history, and allyship requires one to not only fight racism through community organizations and education but also to understand how racism in the U.S. came to be.
“Trying to confront U.S. systemic racism without an understanding of Black history and its framework for U.S. history is like trying to heal a disease without having diagnosed it,” Gee said. “One cannot diagnose systemic racism without understanding of why and how it has historically oppressed Black and Brown Americans,” Gee said.
Gee, a self-proclaimed social entrepreneur, started the Nehemiah Center in the 1980s to provide programs promoting leadership, economic development and youth education within the African-American community. Justified Anger is one of such programs. It researches and executes community-based approaches to systemic racism in Wisconsin, which has some of the worst racial disparities in the U.S., according to Wisconsin Public Radio.
Those who wish to become allies to the Black community can take Justified Anger’s eight-week ‘Black History for a New Day’ course. It is designed to provide non-Black, primarily white allies with the holistic Black history necessary to fight the power sources of systemic racism.