As racial justice protests have continued around the world, longtime talent manager Courtney Carter has noticed a trend: some non-Black people who want to be allies have absolutely no idea how. In public, this can lead to them going silent on social media rather than risk saying the “wrong” thing, and in private, it’s common for folks to approach their Black acquaintances to donate small sums of cash and ask for navigational help–which can be fine, if those acquaintances are up for the emotional labor of education, but can be stressful if they aren’t.
“I knew I had to do something,” Carter tells Tubefilter. She is white, and represents a number of Black clients, including culinary group Ghetto Gastro, former Obama administration analyst Carri Twigg, and journalist/producer Selema Masekela. “My Black brothers and sisters were saying to me,‘This is a lot, and while my white friends are well-intentioned and I want to talk to them, I’m still figuring this all out. I’m grieving, you know?’ And that’s a hard place to be,” she says. “So I was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have a place to send them?”
That was her lightbulb moment. Over the next four days, she put together an Advisory Board with entertainment executives including Twigg, Lisa Filipeli (a partner at Select Management Group), Sarah Weichel (a consultant whose has worked with clients like Lilly Singh and Anthony Padilla), Brandon Reigg (Netflix’s VP of unscripted originals and acquisitions), David Schiff (CEO of MGMT Entertainment), Nicki Fioravante (a publicist with Viewpoint), and Elsa Marie Collins (cofounder of This Is About Humanity, a nonprofit that works to reunite families separated at the U.S. border).
Together, they came up with Ally2Action, a 21-day curriculum aimed at teaching people how to be supportive allies to the Black community.
Those who sign up for the free course–around 2,000 people so far–will receive daily emails with educational videos and articles about various aspects of allyship, plus discussion questions and a plan of action to implement what they learned. Materials have been curated by scholars and experts in the space, Carter says. The program will also spotlight Black-owned businesses and creators, and will offer a handful of virtual meetups with live discussions and breakout sessions throughout the three weeks.
— Ally 2 Action (@ally2action) July 4, 2020
The course, which begins July 12, is basically a place for non-Black allies to come together and screw up and teach one another to be better, Carter says. “There’s this underlying fear of doing the wrong thing or saying the wrong thing, because it’s so sensitive,” she says. “And I didn’t see a place or a space for non-Black communities, in support of the Black community, to learn and get uncomfortable and have conversations that we haven’t had together before.”
The details of Ally2Action are still being shaken out, Carter says. She’s in the process of registering it as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is looking at building an app, and is considering creating future courses for allies of other marginalized communities. For now, she doesn’t plan to archive the emails that will be sent as part of this first course, because it’s meant to be a “journey” where students have to participate and think about things every day.
“In my experience of creating companies and brands and managing talent and trying to get entertainment and information out there, that’s the one thing that has definitely been clear: You’ve got to lead the horse to water,” Carter says. “If you truly want them to engage, even if they have some motivation, you’ve got to make things pretty digestible.”
Ally2Action’s website will, however, have a list of resources for participants and anyone else interested in learning, she adds.
At the end of the 21 days, Carter hopes that folks will walk away with “a different perspective, different eyes,” she says. “So next time you engage in some way, maybe you speak up because you feel the empowerment to do stuff. It’s as simple as that. I want somebody to come away and say, ‘I feel more confident in understanding the subject and being able to have a conversation, an opinion, and stand up for what I think is right.’”
YouTuber Liza Koshy, who’s also one of Carter’s clients, helped launch Ally2Action Friday night in an Instagram conversation with Twigg:
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I called up and pulled up with my friend/Queen, @carritwigg to continue the anti-racist conversation we forever need. Carri is the definition of a storyteller, and every chat with her is an eye-opener. So Karen, pull up, sit down, and become a Carri. She’ll explain HOW to navigate these needed conversations at home, at work, in life and with love. Then check out @culturehousemedia, which focuses on the intersection of pop culture and politics in their brilliant productions. So don’t be shy, talk some more! Continue the convo today.
You can sign up for Ally2Action’s course at its website or by texting ALLY2ACTION to (310) 388-8473. The course begins July 12, but is accepting signups through July 19.