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Strange Fruit: With Allies Like These...

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice
Equal Justice Initiative

Nobody's perfect — even people who are committed to social justice. But activist Leslie Mac has been noticing a pattern when mistakes are inevitably made by people who consider themselves allies.

She recently described it in a piece on Medium:

  • White person/organization/group ****s up royally. Usually by stepping out of their lane and commenting on someone or something they shouldn’t  or screwing over someone they claim to be in solidarity with .
  • Public outrage is expressed, coupled with many Black Women giving detailed reasons why & how they ****ed up.
  • The offending party claims they didn’t “intend to offend” and appears unable to hear what anyone is saying to them.
  • After receiving push back on their initial response, an “apology statement” centered on themselves is issued (“we never meant to harm anyone” “I would never do what I’m being accused of” “we are so sad about how this was received”) while failing to take actual responsibility for their actions.
  • When their meek, ineffective apology isn’t accepted with open arms, they become the victim of “unfair treatment” & “bullying”.
  • They eventually  —  after a lot more free labor from Black Women  — “learn” what they did wrong, declare themselves an expert on f*****g up and recenter themselves as a way to “teach others”
  • Do this same **** all over again the next time they **** up.

Leslie said it's not the fact that people make mistakes — it's the way they react when being called out on those mistakes that's problematic.

She said when someone does something racist, sexist, etc., they shouldn't make their response and apology all about their own feelings. They should center the feelings of the people they harmed.

Leslie joins us to tell us more, and give us her tips for how allies can get it right.

We also talk to Amber Duke and Soha Saiyeed with the ACLU of Kentucky. Earlier this year, they traveled to Montgomery, Alabama, for the opening of the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice (more commonly known as the Lynching Memorial — which is pictured above).

They share what it was like to visit the memorial, which features Kentucky prominently, because of the number of lynchings that happened here.

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects. Email Laura at lellis@lpm.org.