How to be a good ally

Wish I knew.  I’ve not got any answers, just a few thoughts on how to avoid fucking it up (much).

I mean, I’m aware of the basics: not declaring yourself to be one like it comes with a badge, or viewing it as a permanent status – you’re only one as long as you’re doing the right stuff – listening, rather than making it about yourself, and that sort of thing.  (There are plenty of lists out there, so I won’t attempt to compile one) http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/2013/09/no-more-allies/ is one of the best I’ve seen on what not to do.

It’s difficult to keep to these, and there are plenty of places to trip up along the way.  I guess the trickiest is that as a person in a position of privilege – in my case a white cis male – it would be far too easy to lean on that privilege.  Probably the most obvious is that as a guy it’s easy to go into white knight mode, throwing (metaphorical) punches to protect the damsel.  And I know I can do that safe in the knowledge that I won’t get hurt.  Whatever happens, my particular combination of characteristics mean that I’ll wake up tomorrow knowing that the world still laid in front of me.

It’s hard not to do this when we’re worried that people we care about are being hurt.  It’s hard not to do this when we see things that offend our sensibilities, and make us really, really angry.  It’s hard not to do this because we’ve been conditioned to think of this as a good thing, admirable.  But it really doesn’t help the situation.  It’s really just another way of making it about you.  You ride in, save the day, and (although you might not think that you’re doing it for this reason) get the ‘girl’.

And even if you do ‘save the day’, what then?  The same thing will happen tomorrow.  The same structures, and the same people, whether genuinely evil or just callous little shits, will be out there.

Instead, you’ve just got to be there, but giving your support from behind the scenes.  And dealing with your own crowd – maybe gently pointing out to other [men] when they don’t even realise the effects of what they say and do.  But otherwise only getting directly involved, and then quietly, when you’re asked to.

You don’t do it to be a hero.  You don’t do it for the credit (and you damn sure don’t go fishing for anything from those you purport to support).  If you’re serious about it, you do it just because it’s the right thing to do.

Postscript

I’m sure I get things wrong all the time.  I certainly do jump in sometimes.  Oh well, try harder.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s