This story originally appeared on Are Those Your Kids and was entitled: How to be an Ally in #Blacklivesmatter Today and Everyday. This story was written by Diedre from Are Those Your Kids. I\u2019ve seen so many friends, influencers, and acquaintances posting online lately. They want to know how to be an ally in #blacklives matter. On one hand, it\u2019s been so refreshing to see people of every race and nationality joining together for a common cause. Black people need the voices of other people so that change can come\u2013and come swiftly. I\u2019ve responded to numerous DM\u2019s asking what the next steps are. White friends are afraid to speak out for fear of saying the wrong thing or receiving harsh criticism and backlash. I got you. Here are a few easy ways that you can be an ally: Don\u2019t be offended by directness www.jasonhurstphotography.com \u00a9Jason Hurst Photography 2016 Did you know that how we communicate is learned behavior that can be shaped by our culture and experiences??I didn\u2019t until I had people point out how direct I am and how they had to get use to my approach. I am 37 years old and I wasn\u2019t always vocal. I love peace and living a drama-free life, so I only brought up when I was upset when it went too far. It was unhealthy. I allowed others feelings to be more important than my own, and that often left me feeling resentful or I would boil over during a small disagreement because I spent so much time holding back. In my 30\u2019s, I decided that I was no longer going to hold back. I was going to speak my truth (in kindness) but let people knew where I stood early on. It was a little scary at first, but the more I did it, the more empowered I felt. Then I could really see people\u2019s hearts. If you tell someone how you feel about something and you can have a meaningful exchange and they work on reconciling the relationship, they are worth keeping in your circle. If they could give two you know what\u2019s, then it\u2019s time to let \u2019em go. When your black friends are telling you point blank period how they feel, believe them. Let them have a moment of clarity and let them be transparent with you. It doesn\u2019t have to be a scary thing. Just listen. Stop taking criticism over system issues personally Want to know how to be an ally? STOP TAKING EVERY SYSTEMATIC ISSUE PERSONALLY Over the past week or so, I\u2019ve had to take a few breaks from social media for my own mental health. I would see white people posting about how all cops aren\u2019t bad because they have cops in their families. Why can\u2019t we just say that what happened to the likes of George Floyd and so many other black men were just wrong?? Why can\u2019t we admit that we need systematic change? It takes the voices and actions of many to change systematic injustices that have tainted society. Stop talking, explaining, rationalizing & just listen Perhaps the best way to be an ally is to just listen. Don\u2019t say: \u201cWell, maybe there\u2019s more to the story that we don\u2019t know.\u201d \u201cHe\/she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.\u201d \u201cHe\/she had a criminal background in the past.\u201d \u201cWe only saw part of the video.\u201d \u201cAre you sure it was about race? It could\u2019ve been something else.\u201d We don\u2019t want our experiences invalidated or explained away. Please just listen. Stop asking us how we feel I know you have good intentions by asking, but honestly, we don\u2019t know how we feel. Emotions are high. One minute we\u2019re crying. The next minute we\u2019re talking to our children and hugging them tighter. We\u2019re in shock. We are emotionally spent. We are grieving. Black people are not okay. Stop making conversations awkward If you\u2019re my friend, we talk about life. Work, home, current events, our favorite t.v. shows. Our world is in such a weird state right now. It almost feels like we\u2019re in the twilight zone. Don\u2019t suddenly make conversations weird with long awkward silences. It\u2019s okay for you to share your feelings. It\u2019s okay to ask questions. It\u2019s okay to participate in protests if you feel led to. Don\u2019t be an ally, be a good human being How can you be an ally? Show up! Care. Be a good human being. Don\u2019t make excuses about injustices, but look for ways to make small changes where you are. Hear a racist joke at work? Call them out. Notice that there are no people of color (of any other ethnicity) in your space? Do something about it! Surround yourself with diversity at church, extracurricular activities for your kids, in the books you choose and the places you go. Build authentic relationships with people who are different from you, and being an ally won\u2019t seem like such a challenge. You\u2019ll begin to care about the issues of people who are close to you. Part of our indifference to change has been that people can easily turn a blind eye to issues that don\u2019t affect them. But there is a huge problem when people are hurting all around and no one takes notice. Keep advocating for change In order for systematic change to come, we can\u2019t be angry today and business as usual tomorrow. Sharing a few of your favorite black-owned shops and IG profiles isn\u2019t enough. You have to keep widening your circle of influence and making room for others at the table. Check out a few of these statistics from White Fragility: Teachers: 82% White Full-time college professors: 84% white Owners of professional football teams: 97% white Ten richest Americans: 100% white US Congress: 90% White People who directed the top 100 grossing films: 95% white US Congress: 90% White People who decide which TV shows we see: 93% white People who decide which news is covered: 85% white Now tell me we don\u2019t need systematic change. Note from Stacey: If you're looking for more content on race, here are two recent stories I wrote about talking to kids about racism and being an ally.