To help sort it out, I’ve compiled this list of “8 Ways Not To Be An Ally” and I hope it’s useful.
1. Assume one act of solidarity makes you an ally forever.
Remember that time your uncle said that fucked-up stuff about “illegal” Mexican immigrants and you were all, “Actually, Uncle, California is Mexico, so you need to read your history cuz that’s hella racist!” That shit rocked, bruh. And it totally means that you are an Ally with a capital A for, like, ever! Done and done. Let’s go get a celebratory slurpee. But you know what else? Nope. Being an ally takes waaaay more practice than that. It is a constantly active and evolving thing. I mean, imagine labeling yourself a great lover after you ate pussy once. That would be cray, wouldn’t it?
2. Make everything about your feelings.
The hurt feelings that resulted when you were called out on racism/transphobia/ableism/etc. are totally more important than the impact of the actions you are being called out for in the first place. Really. I’m not even being facetious. Psych! I mean, I know it feels like your feelings are Consideration #1, but they’re not. I have been guilty of this ridiculousness myself in the past. I think everybody is guilty of it sometimes. But that still doesn’t make it okay. Try to remember that people who have been impacted by your racist/transphobic/ableist/etc. words or actions are the ones whose feelings need attention right then. Not yours.
3. Date ‘em all.
Some folks seem to think that the quickest way to lifelong allyship status is to just date all the people who resemble those that one claims to exist in solidarity with. Anti-racist? Date all the POC! And be sure to do so exclusively and with no analysis whatsoever about fetishism, exotification, or the ways your white body might be interrupting POC space! Cuz, hey, you’re an ally and stuff. Right? Ew.
4. Don’t see race/gender/disability/etc.
You know what I love? When people don’t see my race. There is nothing more affirming for me as a person than to have essential parts of myself and my experience completely disregarded. I mean, inside we’re all the same. And there’s only one race: the HUMAN race! Amirite??? Ugh. Listen. If your ability to respect someone’s right to exist requires pretending that they are just like you, that’s a problem. We are not all the same. And things like race, gender, disability, etc. are exactly the kinds of things that shape our lives and our experiences and make us different from one another. Being different is not the problem. The idea that being the same as you is what gives us the right to exist is the problem.
5. Don’t try any harder.
You tried, right? You reached out to three different QPOC burlesque performers and asked if they wanted to be in your burlesque show and they all declined. Now your show is as white as a Klan meeting, but it’s not your fault, right? You did your part. But now people are mad at you and it makes no sense becauseJesus! I mean, you totally freaking tried! Here’s the thing, though: try harder! If changing the status quo were easy, we’d have done it ages ago.
6. Challenge oppression in personal situations but not in systemic ways.
It’s enough that you said something when your Grandma used the T-word. The fact that you go to work everyday at a queer organization where none of the fifty employees are trans* women and you never say nothing about it is beside the point. You’re battling interpersonal “isms” and that’s what really matters. Except…you know…not really. Transphobia, ableism, racism, and all those other phobias/isms aren’t just interpersonal issues. They are hella systemic. And checking your grandma isn’t going to fix them. Think bigger, k?
7. Take. Don’t give.
To be a great ally, show up at every POC event, read every article about the PIC and comment extensively, and ask endless three-part questions during the Q&A at that symposium on disability justice. And definitely show up extra early for that free QWOC film festival with limited seating so that you for sure get a spot. But never, ever volunteer or donate to help make those things happen.
8. Quote Audre Lorde.
The best way to show solidarity with a group of people is to constantly quote famous folks from that group in regular conversation. Or in Facebook status messages. In fact, you should generally behave as though you know more about the experiences of a group of marginalized people than those people do themselves. That shit is hot. And it totally does not make me want to punch you in the face.
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