Comfortable Allies Are Not Allies
If your allyship only extends as far as your comfort, you are not an ally.
John Brown was an abolitionist who died in 1859. He was hanged after a failed attempt to attack a federal arsenal to provide arms to a future slave rebellion. He was a flawed human being but he lived by his principles and died by them. And in 2018, that’s the kind of energy allies really need to have. I’m not saying you need to attack the government (but that’s absolutely an option that is open to you, put a pin in it), but I am saying that you need to sacrifice your own privilege in order to fully combat oppression and make a real change in the world.
And if you’re not willing to do that, fuck you then.
You read that right. In 2018, in a world where rapists are being voted to the Supreme Court and there are literal Nazis in the street, we just don’t have time for platitudes. We just don’t have space for people who are merely paying lip service to a cause without fully investing themselves in the cause.
This message is specifically going out to white people and men. In 2018, you need to do way better than you are. You need to engage. You know it’s bad out there, you know that people who have far less privilege are taking the brunt of the abuse while still fighting against oppression every day. As a real ally, you should be engaging those systems in conflict from the door.
In Brown’s time, he saw what the pro-slavery group was doing and imitated their tactics to further his side. He rejected his own privilege. He helped slaves escape, he formulated plans to create a stronger system of safety and escape and fought for full-scale end to slavery. We can find people like Brown throughout history, many have been turned into memes that we share because we love a good hero. People who rode bikes through war zones to deliver coded messages, women who seduced Nazis to shoot them in the head.
Sometime in the last few years the title of ally has been co-opted. It has come to mean a person who is just not a flaming a bigot. But go into any ally group and you’ll see, quite quickly, that there are lines to how far they’ll go. They believe in equal rights but won’t step to their dad when he makes a sexist joke. They’re not racist but won’t confront their neighbor on their “all lives matter” sign.
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You want to be allies until it’s time to do ally shit. If your allyship only extends as far as your comfort, you are not an ally. And if that is the case, fuck you.
In order to be an ally, to really be an ally, you have to be willing to move out of your own comfort zone. You have to be willing to cross those lines because those lines are set by our society to ensure that systems of oppression stay in place. To you, not questioning your father for his joke or your neighbor for their gross sign is about maintaining your personal peace but in the larger society, your unwillingness is helping those ideals stay entrenched and supported.
Being a comfortable ally is about getting cookies and kudos and although it’s awesome that I can count on you not to spit on me in the streets, what I really need, what we all really need are people who are dismantling the system that make bigots feel safe to spit on people in the streets in the first place. We need people who are using their privilege to take down the culture that supports this, even at the risk to their own comfort because they value liberation for all over comfort for them.
You don’t have to storm a national reserve to be an ally. You don’t have to move to some empty territory and go off grid. You don’t have to be John Brown but you can still embody that John Brown energy.
Question racist dress codes at work. Call out schools because of the statistics that show little Black kids are getting suspended more. Talk to your coworkers about what they’re getting paid and stand with them if they’re making less than you for the same work. Tell your dad to shove his sexist comments and snatch that sign out of your neighbor’s yard.
Sacrifice your own comfort. You cannot dismantle the house you are still living comfortably in. You will always be held up by the parts of it you still rely on for your own comfort. That house is occupying the land that others need to build the better house that we’ll all be comfortable in. Until you let go of that house and come over to fully work on the one that we’re building, you’ll never be able to commit yourself to the ideals that you’re claiming to believe in.
If you’re not ready to move out of the house that white supremacy and the patriarchy has built for you and you’re expecting to move into the spot that we’re building when it’s ready, you are not welcome. You can burn in the house that you keep clinging too.
It’s 2018 and if you’re not willing to sacrifice your own comfort for your allyship, then fuck you.
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