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'You should still be working to build bridges' | How to be a better ally to communities of color

Recent violence against minority communities has left many asking what they can do to help

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The recent attacks on minority communities has many people asking how they can be a better ally and support one another. Jacqui Nguyen considers herself a concerned citizen, a community activist and a proud Vietnamese American.

“Now, obviously is the time that everybody’s reacting to what’s happening. But what about those times when nothing is going on or all is quiet on the western front? You should still be working to build bridges,” said Nguyen.

She says now is a great time, but certainly not the only time, to reach out to members of the Asian American community.

“Instead of a typical question of just like, ‘How are you doing?’ which is very nice. Kind of preface it by saying, ‘I know these are trying times for our Asian American community. Is there anything that I can do to help you out?’”

Sac State Professor of Ethnic Studies, Timothy Fong, has some suggestions for broaching a conversation.

“You can start off by talking about what’s happening in the news and your concern generally. And you’re just concerned how the other person is doing and feeling, start from there,” explained Fong.

He also encourages some critical self-reflection.

“We’re living in the Sacramento region. It’s a very diverse area. And so if you do not have someone you know or a friend who is Asian or Pacific Islander…something’s wrong. You might want to think about that,” said Fong.

Still, he urges a measured approach.

“It’s not that you’re bad. I’m not calling anybody names. But we don’t know what we don’t know. It’s okay to not know things. I think it’s bad when you’re not willing to learn,” said Fong.

He says it’s affecting everyone.

“There is a sense of, it’s not just us. Or just one group. It’s quite literally affecting all communities of color,” explained Fong.

It is a sentiment echoed by Sonia Lewis, a community activist and member of the Stephon Clark Family.

“I think this is the time that marginalized communities come together and that there is an understanding that our struggles are too similar to be divided by a system of white supremacy,” said Lewis.

She said there is plenty people can do to be an ally.

“I’m asking you to think about things from an abolitionist perspective. I’m asking you to ask 'how can I sacrifice self for the benefit of others,'” said Lewis.

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