Can We Get Real About Allyship?
Y’all..there is entirely too much going on right now in this country. Racism, ridiculous abortion laws, trans folks being murdered, Trump still talking about this dumb ass wall, people killing themselves on Mount Everest for no reason, flat earthers are in full force, 692 democrats running for election, and all sorts of other shenaniganry. It feels like an information overload 24/7. On the one hand I am happy these conversations have been normalized, but on the other hand, I’m tired of hearing some folks be loud and wrong about it but I guess that’s the price we pay for having free speech; Everyone does indeed get to speak
Anyways, excuse my mini rant, what I want to talk about (as you can see from the title) is something that is reoccuring in all these social conversations, and that is allyship. I have a lot of issues with the idea of allies and more so with how people are claiming the term while simultaneously not being allies. It has gotten to a point where a lot of marginalized groups are simply just not fuckin with the term ally or simply don’t believe they exist. I think allyship is an important role that is necessary to “fight the fight” but y’all need to be better. WE need to do better. I saw WE because just like we all have privileges in some way, we all have the ability be allies to someone in some form.
The Current State of Allyship
Allyship is being used as a passive title. It is a title white people (or anyone else in a privileged role), love to call themselves to feel good while not actually doing anything. As we have begun pride month, we see this faux allyship all over the place. These corporations love to slap a rainbow pattern on all their logos and products but what are they actually doing for the LGBTQ community the other 11 months out of the year? Recently Victoria’s Secret faced a severe twitter dragging when they tweeted out “support” for the LGBTQ community
Now if y’all don’t remember, Victoria’s Secret is the same company who late last year said they will not cast plus size or transgender models because “trans people can’t sell the fantasy.” Their comments were bad enough that their very highly publicized annual fashion show is no longer going to be televised. They got kicked off the network.
Sooooo how do you say you don’t fuck with trans people yet, 6 months later you’re out here tweeting rainbows?
This is what most self-proclaimed allies do. You give the title to yourself, you show up once a year, to one march (where you just take selfies), you change your profile picture, you post one article, and all the sudden you feel like you have done your life’s work in combating racism and prejudice. This ain’t it sis. You don’t get to be a sideline ally. Please tell me how changing your profile picture to a black square is allyship? How did wearing those safety pins help these abortion bans or rape culture? Did your paperclip help make women safe? No, it didn’t.
Allies Need To Step Up
First of all, ally is not a title you get to give yourself. You have to earn it and be given that cosign by the communities you claim to work with. You don’t get to decide whether or not you are helping underrepresented communities sufficiently. That would be like me giving myself the title of a lawyer after watching Law & Order once. We will decide if your contributions and actions are enough to be considered an ally, otherwise y’all will continue to the bare minimum and give yourself that feel good title. We have this rule for a reason, it’s not just us being picky and “difficult” if you are giving yourself the title of an ally, that means you are truly here to fight for and protect minority groups. So if shit goes down, we come to you for help and you ain’t nowhere to be found…you have just put us in more danger. If I am dealing with racism at work, and you have presented yourself as an ally, I expect you to be front and center to back me up. But 9 times out of 10, y’all are cowering in your cubicles hoping nobody asks you about the issue because you don’t want to get involved. You’re not an ally.
Allies need to stop being comfortable. Step up to the plate, and get in the nitty gritty with the rest of us. The whole point and power of allies are that y’all have privileges where we don’t. Police ain’t going to shoot white people at a rally. Men will listen to other men before they listen to women, so use that. Instead of sitting by and watching prejudice happen, be the one who confronts it head on so that we don’t have to. When you see a white person calling the police on black people in the park, YOU say something. Don’t sit and wait for it to become a hashtag. You confront your fellow white people. When you see women being harassed and assaulted, how about you intervene instead of standing around with your phone out? Being an ally is active, aggressive duty. You need to be the ones taking the majority of the hits for us. You need to be the ones stepping out of your comfort zones. Marginalized people have been taking the full brute force of prejudice and discrimination on a worldwide scale for centuries and we’re tired. We’re tired and dying. If you truly believe in equity and human rights for everyone, you need to start doing the work to prove it.