Friday Thoughts On Racism — Why I dislike the phrase “I Have Your Back!”

Keith Muckett
3 min readApr 9, 2021


“Keith, you are not in the fight against racism alone, I have your back!”

When I hear these words I know you don’t really mean it, because when you really understand what it means, I’m sure you are not ready for this level of commitment.

Last year a person I would consider a friend said to me “I am an ally”. At that time I did not understand what it truly meant to be an ally, so I said to him “I don’t need an ally, I need you to fully commit.” I understand now that allyship and commitment both mean one and the same; it means “to have my back”.

But why do I dislike this phrase so much?

Let me explain what I believe is the true meaning of allyship with two analogies:

I Have Your Back

By Renier Delport

You and your partner are in a fire fight. Your attacker has you pinned down and you don’t know where their firing positions are. You need to get to a place of safety but that means facing your attacker.

You could go out together in a line, and because you don’t want to risk shooting your partner, your arc of fire is a maximum of about 300 degrees. But you can only see a maximum of 180 degrees at any one time.

The Matrix Revolutions APU Defense Sentinels by CinemaBattle

If you face your attacker back to back (as in the second picture), you both together can cover 360 degrees. You stand the best chance of success as you can both can quickly assess your arc of fire and engage the threat. You have each other’s back!

When you have my back you have decided to be anti racist. You have decided to change your beliefs and stereotypes about Black people and people of colour. You face those who are racist or claim to be “not racist” and, overcoming your fear, call them out or call them in.

For most of you who claim to be allies, what you mean is “I’m In Your Corner”.

Boxer’s Corner Submitted by Joseph.Bologna

I’m in the fight

I’m taking the blows

I’m the one knocked down

I’m the one being knocked out

You encourage me

You fix me up and patch my wounds

You provide for my needs

You watch me fight and get hurt

But in the end you have little risk of being hurt yourself, other than being known as my ally.

In the fight against racism, as with all injustices, we need both kinds of ally. You need to decide which kind you will be. I thank you for being whichever you decide, but I appreciate you more when you are in the fight with me. And if you truly “have my back”, don’t be afraid to get in the fight and don’t be offended when you take friendly fire. Sometimes those you are trying to help don’t understand your motives and misunderstand your actions, so they appear to be against you.

That’s a risk of being an ally.



Keith Muckett

Antiracism writer. Follower of Jesus the Messiah. Life long #StarTrek fan. #TheMatrix and #Inception fanatic. 🇬🇧🇻🇨🇨🇭