Being an Ally to Black Families during Black History Month

February 13, 2024

For over 50 years, Black History Month has been celebrated nationwide during the month of February. The purpose of Black History Month is not only to recognize the achievements, history and contributions that Black people have made in the United States, but also to encourage those who are not Black to be an ally to Black communities. According to the Harvard Business Review an ally can be defined as individuals who, “become collaborators, accomplices and co-conspirators who fight injustice and promote equity.”

How can non-Black people be an ally to Black families not only during Black history month, but every day?

Why does this matter? While roughly 26% of the families that Bridge of Hope serves identify as African American or Black, approximately 43% of the Bridge of Hope network identifies as White or Caucasian. Having a better sense of experiences that are different from our own is vital in building trust and helping families overcome specific barriers.

Willingness to learn is first and foremost. An ally recognizes that everyone’s lived experiences are different. It’s important to make time to listen, read, observe and overall deepen our understanding. Within a spirit of humility and curiosity, and with the family’s permission, it is okay to talk about the challenges they may have faced. Knowing how the history of Black people in America and systemic racism, in addition to homelessness, is impacting a family that’s being served, we become better allies.

It’s not only imperative to lean into learning, but also to take time to self-reflect and recognize existing power imbalances and privilege. Do the non-Black families you’re serving have greater access to opportunities, resources, and ultimately power, than someone who is a person of color? Are there differences in their life experiences, family legacy of resources and opportunities? What steps can we take to level the playing field for the Black families Bridge of Hope serves?

Being an ally can also look like simply being a confidant. Often times when someone is sharing hard things or talking about sensitive topics such as race and oppression, knowing how to respond can be challenging. Validating, listening with the intent to understand, empathizing, and just being available, speaks volumes.

How can you be an ally to those that are a different race from you or have different life experiences than you? Ultimately there are many ways to be an ally and Black History month is a great time to begin your journey.

Happy Black History Month!

Rachelle Morgan
Director of Cultural Humility and Network Enrichment

Being an Ally to Black Families during Black History Month