Since the Orange Menace, my posts are really revolving around social issues and how I am navigating through it. Being a vocal advocate to marginalized people isn’t charity, it is me actively working to make the world better for all of us. I’m not saving anyone but myself. Therefore, I’m standing with those groups, not for them. I’m an accomplice, a co-conspirator and an ally. I am willing to incur risk in order to support and amplify more vulnerable people than me.
Most of the smarties reading this understands the art of collaboration. I wont get into the differences between ally and accomplice. Rose Hackman explains the concept brilliantly in her piece for the Guardian.
Today I want to talk about how I work to be an effective accomplice and how important it is for me to turn myself (and any space I’m in) into safe space for marginalized people. It is especially important that my friends facing extreme amounts of oppression in their daily lives, to have someone who will love and listen to them. They deserve many someones which is why I am here talking about how I work at this. Daily.
These things are coming from my unique perspective, I’m not a monolith, beyond this and with all things, dig deeper.
Here we go:
Believe the lived experiences of marginalized people
When women say they don’t feel safe, believe them. When black people say they don’t feel safe, believe them. When gay and transgender people say they don’t feel safe, believe them, When people with disabilities say they don’t feel safe, believe them. When children say they don’t feel safe, believe them.
Support them, give them the room to react. Without responding or judging and especially without policing the reaction. Hold space for them to be themselves entirely. Whether or not it aligns with your own ways of being is irrelevant.
Open your heart to the fact that the experience is still valid and real even tho you can’t relate to or understand it yourself. In this way, you make yourself instantly safer and more trustworthy.
Identify and address your implicit biases.
Occurring outside of conscious awareness, implicit bias manifests itself in the form of nonverbal thoughts, behaviors and actions that influence an individual and that are suggestive of unequal treatment. – An Analysis of Implicit Bias in Medical Education
The ways in which we view the world are unavoidably influenced by cis-hetero, white supremacist, patriarchal power structures. The way to combat this is to recognize it is there, find it, and kill it. Burn it with fire.
This is a rough step because it means being brutally honest with oneself in order to “unlearn” the things you’ve been taught. It means admitting all the ways in which you may have oppressed others. It means admitting there is safety in your privilege and casting it aside.
It means admitting your isms and phobias and then actively working to destroy those biases, instead of becoming complicit in them.
Learn to listen
Understanding comes from paying close attention. Listening is a special skill and not everyone is endowed with the patience it takes to be good at it. I am not a natural born listener. I am a loud-mouth. I love the sound of my voice and I love giving my opinion (you are welcome to disagree in the comments). So listening was a learned skill for me.
I got good at it (you can disagree with me in the comments) with practice by going into spaces where I knew nothing and therefore had nothing to say. I listened and followed and listened some more. Now, I love shutting the fuck up. The people in my circle, the love I have cultivated, it’s all very brilliant and humbling.
Do your own homework
I opened books I’d never considered reading before, by authors never introduced to me in schools or by the NY Times bestseller’s list. I diversified my media and sought out resources not written by the same power structures negatively influencing us.
Google is my best friend. With it I can search both scholarly and non-scholarly articles on any topic imaginable. I’m only limited by the information available. Public libraries have long since gotten with the times and I can take out books online and read.
Lastly, I started to follow people not part of mainstream media that were reliable resources, not post-truth talking heads working over-time to perpetuate useless dogma.
I am still in this phase of re-education. The only thing I’ve fully learned so far is how much I really don’t know.
The best way to really create lasting change is to help redistribute wealth. Money is power and marginalized groups have been, thus far, barred from enjoying upward mobility. Those who can, absolutely should find ways to support black and non-black people of color. You can do that by supporting businesses owned by people of color. You can buy a subscription to safety pin box. You can donate to organizations working to bring about change.
You should tune into media that centers marginalized voices, written by marginalized people, telling diverse stories. Go see movies created by non-white filmmakers. In this way can make a statement about your priorities as a consumer.
Please understand, how you spend your money is how advertisers (and then the brands they represent) know what we want as a collective. Your searches, social media usage, web subscriptions are all collected for brands to serve you with better ads.
If you are buying from and tuning into these types of sources as a consumer, they will notice!
Be Generous with your Love
Love is a verb. It is not a prayer, it is not an idea, it is not a concept or an imprint. Love is ACTIVE, fluid, alive, and limitless. Love will not save us, nor is it the answer to societal ills. Instead, it’s the energy from which we draw our strength. Tap into and share it often and generously.
Be an earnest cheerleader. Not everyone can do everything. There are some people with the stuff to organize and lead…there are some who support and follow. I am the latter. I work to protect and support the organizers and leaders in every way I can. I brag about them to my friends and coworkers. I write about them and hang out with them and love them to pieces!
Show love to the people speaking to your spirit on this journey. Do that by amplifying and centering their voices and cheering them on, loudly and publicly!
Uplift the vulnerable among us
My privileges keep me safe. They make it so I can get away with a lot of things, under the radar, or with little to no effort. My able-bodied, cis-hetero, light-skinned self, walks through the world with much less fear than my dark-skinned, disabled, lgbtqia+, counterparts.
In matters of oppression, my perspective is limited. That means, under no circumstance should I be speaking for a vulnerable group I am not a part of. That means in order to be an effective accomplice to these people, I must amplify them.
We must center their voices, their lived experiences, their perspective.
Walk the walk
Practice makes perfect. An effective accomplice knows there is no rest for the wicked and therefore there is no rest for the weary and therefore no break for the rest of us.
The most vulnerable among us are being oppressed, maligned, endangered, and preyed upon daily. Everyday is an opportunity to collaborate with these groups in order to make the world a better place. Reach out. Your voice is needed.
If you are calling yourself an ally, you are committing yourself to all of the above in both idea and practice. SHOW YOUR WORK! By this I mean, people should know where you stand. Stop playing the fence and being vague about your opinion.
Get up. Stand up. In your own circles
Work your groups. Know where you have influence and use it to stand up for marginalized people. This is scary as fuck. It means being a squeaky wheel. One must be willing to be ostracized and isolated and even blocked from certain circles.
Silence is violence, don’t be quiet about racism, sexism, and other types of discrimination. If you have yet to speak out against the Orange Menace, for example, you have probably already been marked as unsafe to those people in your circle who are also part of the groups being targeted.
Uncover/rediscover – the business of unlearning
For me, all of the above was a process. I’m still on the journey, I’m still learning/unlearning. I’m still realizing my implicit biases.
I have dedicated myself to the business of collaboration. I am determined to make myself into safe space for my friends and family. I truly want to become and effective accomplice in the fight for equality.
There are a ton of articles, books, essays, poems, movies, etc…
- Black Lives Matter Syllabus
- 5 Tips for Being an Ally
- For White People who believe Black Lives Matter
- How White Americans Can Fight Racism
- GLAAD Trump Accountability Project
- National Center for Transgender Equality
- A Guide for the Currently Not Disabled
- Diversity toolkit
- Rape Abuse and Incest National Network