Realizing Your Identity as an Ally - Charlottesville.
In my sophomore year of college I was overly preoccupied. I was doing my own thing but I was also heavily involved in a plethora of campus activities and organizations.
As a resident advisor, I went through training on ways to support my residents should they ever come back after a night of partying to report a sexual assault. We read documents and role-played various scenarios. I was ready for this — especially as an RA for an all girls hall.
A similar training was hosted to induct myself and fellow RAs and interested students into the role of allies for LGBTQIA students.
That academic year, Res Life could not have foreseen that we would mostly deal with incidences of swastika drawings and the derogatory word “nigger” being written on the dry erase boards outside the rooms of students and professors of colors. Not to mention the Hip Hop parties hosted by the usual culprits featuring gross misrepresentation of African Americans and even black face. *gasp* We wouldn’t be as tight if y’all stood up for black people the way you lavishly consumed black culture.
As a Resident Advisor, we hadn’t been trained on how to deal with those incidences. Affirming Title IX had consumed the greater part of our trainings that summer. The uproar on campus after each incident of these hate crimes made it impossible not to speak up.
Ironically, this was the year of Kony 2012. As an African student on a PWI, I was extremely proud of my fellow university mates in the way in which we stood in solidarity to condemn Kony’s barbaric activities across central and eastern Africa, regardless of how strongly it reeked of a white savior agenda. S/O to Invisible Children *sarcasm*.
It was within that same period — days to weeks that Trayvon Martin was gunned down in Florida. The pride I felt in the solidarity in which we condemned Kony crumbled when there was deafening silence on campus against Zimmerman, who had gunned down 17 year old Martin without any repercussion.
Keep in mind that no one had received any training to be an ally for the African people perishing under the alleged operatives of Joseph Kony.
I desperately needed and wanted the same moral awakening on campus against Zimmerman but it was dead silent. This white man needed to defend his gated community in Florida and had done just that, in spite of the resulting fatality.
Skittles and Arizona green tea, plus a defeating silence trended. My white allies who condemned Kony, what happened to y’all? What changed here? Why wouldn’t you condemn George Zimmerman?
If Charlottesville was happening in 2012–15, I’d have many a words to say. But at some point I realized I was speaking to brown and black people who already got it.
I as a young and flourishing ting of color, have done my fair share of blacksplaining and racesplaining.
The conversation on what’s happening in Va. should happen amongst white people who already get it, with those who don’t — or as the media would rather: “white nationalists” & “nazi sympathizers” but as I prefer: terrorists. Calling them racists isn’t complex or encapsulating enough.
I’m bored of analyzing and explaining racism and white supremacy, when it’s a concept that’s refurbished and upheld within the realm of asserting “white culture”, whatever that is.
At this point I know I have explained it enough, for a good amount of my white acquaintances to get it. Many of you all call yourselves allies to the BLM struggle.
This is a call to action for you my ally guys!
Go on. Explain this to your other white friends, relatives and acquaintances who don’t get it. This is the time for your “ally-ship” to matter and make a point.
Dear white people,
This goes beyond a fb status. Have these courageous conversations. It is important, and more impactful when it is ignited within your own communities. It won’t be easy but you will be bold and these moments will allow you to realize your identity as an ally to the oppressed. The time is now.
See? At first it was mum for police brutality against the black community. This weekend, they came for the Jews too, Hitler salute and all. Your silence will not protect you. It makes you complicit.
Step up. As the saying goes, it’s not the job of the oppressed to educate the oppressor. Do what you have to do and do better.
Audre Lorde said it is not for us [people of color, women and queer people] to take up the responsibility of explaining racism, sexism, and homophobia because there is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.
And the good lord knows I could use the time to redefine myself and all of that!
Puh-leaseeee, prove to us what makes you an ally. Honestly, this would be a good time to start.