Ask Ashleigh: What Should White Allies Do?
Recently I posted about the praise Matt McGorry received for dragging Piers Morgan for coming for Beyoncé. I mean, what’s really new in the world of white men? The idea that white men have to drag or offend one another to make non-white-men’s humanity newsworthy is a consistent theme of everyday white supremacist patriarchy. Honestly, I don’t care.
Let me be clear, though. When I say, “I don’t care,” I mean that in the most political, healing and Black feminist way. Of course I care that Beyoncé is once again being tried by these white folk. Of course I care that there are attempts to decolonize political and social environments through intentional learning and engagement. But I don’t give a fuck about what white people do, in terms of my everyday personal and political focus. I don’t have room in my emotional capacity to give kudos for white people dragging other white people. I don’t actually need to hear about what white folks do with each other … ever.
In other words, my expectations of white allies are simultaneously extremely low and very, very high. Yes, white people should drag other white people to educate them. No, I don’t need seven news outlets flooding my timeline with their accomplishments for plagiarizing and reformatting the work we do every day.
What I truly expect from white people is intentional structural power shifting and economic allyship. I’m so tired of hearing about white people talking to each other about being white. We get it: being white is hard because you didn’t choose to be white. But can y’all do research on your family histories and locate some of the exact trauma and violence you’ve inflicted and benefitted from? Can y’all donate your savings, investments, assets and current paychecks to the people of color in your life and around the world without question? (And no, don’t wait for a Gofundme to hit your Facebook timeline, go give that shit to someone of color with no prompt or invitation.) Can y’all do a highway shut down for #BlackLivesMatter and demand reparations from white people around the world? Can y’all do allyship loud enough for other white people but quiet enough to not drown out our voices? Can you do more than talk? Can you do more than post selfies with radical books? Can you give up your jobs, your comfort and your convenience for our lives?
Allyship is not an achievement. Allyship is a continuous process without reward. So, my expectations are high as fuck, but I recognize that most white people aren’t about this life because it’s optional for them! The idea that I should even care about the political growth of any white person over the violence and death my people suffer every day is why I don’t care about Matt McGorry. White people gon’ white. And I still can’t pay my fucking bills. So really, what can you expect out of me when I’m too busy surviving to worry about how white people wanna save each other?
Also, let’s politicize the critiques of white allyship by making room for how much the trauma of anti-Blackness affects Black people like me. I don’t theorize white people’s self-aggrandizing bullshit anymore because my healing and my political efforts are focused on how to dismantle prioritizing whiteness from my mind and work. I don’t have to care about white people’s political understanding or even envision what white allyship looks like to me when I live in a world that intentionally emotionally and physically harms me every second of the day. I don’t have time to care, y’all.