Lecia Michelle is the author of The White Allies Handbook: 4 Weeks to Join the Racial Justice Fight for Black Women. She is a librarian by trade with experience at universities and public libraries.
Q: What is your background as an author?
LM: This is my very first book. I have been a librarian for a really long time, so of course, I enjoy libraries, books and learning. I also started a Facebook group back in 2016 that focused on racial justice. We do training in the Facebook group for white women to be allies. Along with this, I started writing a ton of articles about racial justice. So all of that kind of prepared me to write this book, and what I noticed was missing was giving people steps to be an ally. So I decided to write a book that focuses on that part.
Q: How did you develop the four-week program for becoming an ally?
LM: There is too much to do in one week, so this makes it less overwhelming for people who are trying to work on being an ally. I wanted to make sure that each week we built on the previous week. I think this made it more manageable. I also wrote it in a way that keeps you constantly thinking about your own progress, where you are falling short, and also keeps you motivated.
Q: What are the key tools needed for a person to make a difference in the racial justice fight?
LM: If you are a white person wanting to be effective in racial justice work, you must constantly be doing work on yourself. You have to be aware of how you're contributing to the problem or how you have contributed to the problem, and you have to be able to fix it. It’s very daunting to have to confront people who you consider friends or family, but you have to because those are the people that you have the most influence over. So those are the ones that you may need to have a conversation with about race.
Q: If you could give people one piece of advice on how to make a difference in racial justice or what the next step is to take, what would it be?
LM: Keep working toward the goal of antiracism work. So if you are getting tired, frustrated or overwhelmed, have an accountability partner you can talk to about that, but you have to keep going. I’ve met so many people who start out and then they get burnt out. Well, you know, it’s very privileged to say I’m tired. I don't want to do this anymore. But I don’t get to step away from Blackness. It is who I am. So I just say, understand that when you say you will do ally work and antiracism work, that my expectation is that it is a lifelong commitment and should be a lifelong commitment.
Q: Your program 7 Questions About Allyship You Were Afraid to Ask, is coming up on Thursday, October 20. What do you hope people get out of this experience?
LM: I hope they are less afraid of either starting to be an ally or really stepping up their ally game. I hope I can make them feel more comfortable to be an ally and speak up and understand that part of your ally journey is going to be making mistakes and speaking up.
Check out author Lecia Michelle’s book recommendations!