Activism Through Allyship
By: Samantha White
As 2020 comes to an end, the time for reflection approaches heightened by the transpiration of burdensome events. We as a collective youth have preserved through the reign of President Trump, civil unrest, socio-economic setbacks, and so much more. After enduring these tiresome events it is no wonder why so many have begun to finally exhale, satisfied with the win of President-elect Joe Biden. However, this relief needs to be short-lived. We cannot afford to buy into the white savior complex while racism remains a relic of the present seemingly weaved into every aspect of our country. To overcome racism and social injustices as old as America, we need to continue to foster social movements through allyship.
Allyship is a practice whose power should not be overlooked. It is a form of activism that proceeds to unite the oppressed with the privileged. When executed properly, there is a certain beauty to the practice that can provide a sense of hope; after all, if history has shown us anything it's that when we stand together nothing is impossible. However, with the recent awakening of social movements, I can’t help but notice the infiltration of performative allies that have begun to plague our agenda. People calling themselves “allies” while their actions contradict their preachings are a danger to the movement. When using ally as a noun, it needs to be backed as a verb- frequently defended through your actions.
Being an ally is an ongoing practice. It means to advocate for the rights of your peers in times when their very humanity is under threat and not sitting idly by when their identity is being disrespected. Ally’s are not satisfied with their own views not being racist but instead are anti-racist and understand the danger of racism in any form whether it be overt or covert. After all, the scars of racism are everlasting and cut deep. Despite its ability to cause racial trauma, no matter how severe the racism experienced was silence and impartiality in times of injustice are far more remembered. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Practicing allyship means making yourself available to those from oppressed groups and checking up on them to see how they are handling current events. It means not just hearing, but listening to these individuals without intrusion or commentary. Being an ally means not disregarding or invalidating peers' past experiences. It means not having a selective hearing with the anecdotes they share and not affiliating yourself with their oppressors.
Once you have completed all of these things, only then you can call yourself an ally.
This is how we will continue to foster social movements. Through being introspective in how we have been preformative allies and first creating change within. We do not need to solely depend on an alleged white savior, Joe Biden, but instead on each other. We cannot afford to leave these social movements with the Trump administration but rather take them with us into Biden’s. If you’re like me having anxiety about whether our agenda will prevail, continue to be an activist through allyship.