Don’t Just Stand With Someone Being Harassed. Stand In Front Of Them.

Lessons on Allyship and Community

✅ IRL Friend. That’s the tweet I employ to signify that I’ve finally met up with someone previously only known to me online. Of course 2020 hasn’t had much of that interaction but I know that when we’re all hugging it out again, Danilo Campos is one of the peeps I’m looking forward to seeking out.

Danilo combines calling me out on my bullshit with a recognition that intent matters; we’re all learning; and the willingness to throw more than 280 characters towards our conversations. One such back and forth occurred on the day after the domestic terrorist attack on the US Capital. Much of the timeline was outraged and narrative was we all stand together. For Danilo that wasn’t the whole story.

I know when I see my DM indicator light up in the middle of a Twitter thread that something requires a backchannel. And this one came from him. And it came with links.

It shared a story that I was lightly familiar with but lost track of after its initial coverage. On Long Island, the region where I grew up, a Black woman homeowner, new to the neighborhood, started getting harassed in disgusting ways. Her reports to police went ignored and the threats became more severe. Authorities starting paying attention once the story went viral of course, but why did it take that sort of pressure?

Danilo also shared a DESUS & MERO clip where the homeowner told her story, including one young man who rose to the occasion. He came over each night and started watching her house, Periscoping the whole thing in case anything happened to her or him. The idea was, I’m here for you and willing to put myself at harm to prevent yours.

My takeaway was, sometimes you need to stand behind someone. Sometimes need to stand with them. And sometimes you need to stand in front of them. They’re all forms of help, but those of us who are most able and privileged can practice the “standing in front” more often (with permission and grace) if we’re going to be really friends.