Dear Aspiring Allies,
When someone experiences discrimination, and you want to help, the best thing you can do is reflect on your available resources and arrive with a list of support options.
Experiencing discrimination is mentally and physically exhausting, and the last thing marginalized groups need is more work. The truth is that we do not have the time or energy to sort out the forms of support you can provide that will serve your knee-jerk need to feel better, so you will have to pitch in and do some work. 🤨
And don't be offended if your offer isn't accepted immediately (or at all). Just because you are ready to give doesn't mean we are in a position to receive. Equitable allocation of resources doesn't have an expiry date, so dial down your false sense of urgency. Remember, allyship is not about you and folx who face isms have a lot going on as they actively fight oppression every day.
Read that line again and sip it slowly. We face oppression e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y.
As such, we cannot engage fifth rung offers if our basics are not covered. For example, offering the use of a Telsa is of no help if there is no place to plug it in. See what I mean?
Also, be sure to state if there is a window on any of the options you are offering, i.e. a job opportunity that closes in two weeks, seasonal use of a cottage, or coaching support available for a year. Again, this simple piece of information can help with the prioritization of tasks as we strive for a level of safety that is wholly unearned by the privileged and comfortable.
Finally, stop waiting around for a gold star or round of applause. You do not get recognition for being aware of the burden bestowed upon us at birth. And you don't get to take a prolonged coffee break just because you completed one shift. People who face isms are not celebrated for surviving unending harm. We don't get to tap out when we are tired and are not afforded the luxury of curating our activism to align with social media algorithms.
So, mind how you move when seeking to support a community you are not a member of and be aware of who is being centred. No one is signing up to be washed in your waves of pity and guilt. FYI: no one wants to be your "Gay Husband" or "Black Friend." No one. 🤨
Unless or until you see the rights and lives of others as equal to your own, your efforts are entirely performative. Allyship requires valuing everyone as you value yourself, which might explain why white cisgender, heteronormative people are not organizing antiracism rallies ... but we can discuss that on another day.
For many aspiring allies, their enthusiasm exceeds their level of understanding. As such, support quickly crosses the line into saviourism and once the hit of feel-good hormones ends, so do the phone calls. Allyship is more than escaping feelings of hopelessness and drowning in overwhelm. When approached soberly, allyship is a lifestyle wherein seeking equity is a standard everyday practice. The historically excluded have community awareness etched in their DNA, and at this *junxure* DEI is essentially the practice of teaching allies how to be decent people. It is ridiculous that education on this concept is necessary and disturbing that the lessons refuse to be learned. The only way forward is for members of the dominant culture to work both smarter and harder to increase their level of participation in this work because, at this point, the bar of allyship could not be any lower.