The Great Black Exit and What This Means for Allies
There is a movement that is gaining steam across the country. It is akin to the Great Migration mixed with the Black Power movement of the 1970s.
Black Americans are leaving the country at record-breaking rates, but even more are leaving predominantly white workplaces and institutions.
The most notable is Nikole Hannah-Jones's rejection of her begrudged tenure-offer from UNC Chapel Hill in order to become the Knight scholar at Howard University with friend and fellow journalist, Ta-Nehisi Coates. But another movement proceeded her exit. Black athletes of the past and present like Deion Sanders recently became the football coach at Jackson State and Master P's son Hercy Miller joined Tennessee State's basketball team.
A similar movement is happening in the church world. The Witness, a Black Christian collective led by author and scholar Jemar Tisby, as started #LeaveLOUD. The movement gives voice to the growing number of Black Christians choosing to leave the predominately white churches they once called home. Tisby was inspired by a New York Times article about the exodus and felt it was time to hear these brave individuals' stories.
Finally, many people are familiar with the statistic that Black and brown women are the fast growing demographic of entrepreneurs in the US, but reporter Stephanie Sarkis at Forbes investigated why. In her article "Gender Inequality Led to the Rise of Women Entrepreneurs", Sarkis states, "...when a woman runs her own business, she has a reduced chance of being harassed or attacked."
So, there is an obvious trend happening and, according to Hannah-Jones, a necessary one. "Black professionals should feel free," she said during her interview with Gayle King on CBS This Morning, "and actually perhaps an obligation, to go to our own institutions and bring our talents and resources to our own institutions and help to build them up as well."
At the end of the day, Both Tisby and Hannah-Jones made powerful points. One, to remain in a predominately white space that wants nothing more than to tokenize you creates the illusion of safety for Black and brown people looking to come aboard. Two, it is not our job as Black people to heal the racial wounds created by the dominant class in their own institutions.
So, what is the allies job in all of this?