Next in Fashion’s ‘streetwear’ episode is a master class of how Black men can be effective and ineffective allies to Black women. By Paige Robinson The fashion industry has a racism problem. Fashion trends come and go, but apparently racism never goes
In understanding the way power dynamics work in favor of cisgender people, those who are allies for the TGNC community should take care to better understand the ways in which they can support us. Navigating my trans identity isn’t an
Jones used white liberalism and performative allyship to target mostly poor Black folks, seduce them into his abusive cult, take their money, and orchestrate the death of over 900 people.This essay contains discussions of suicide, murder, and spiritual abuse
“Black people were integral to Jim Jones’ ambitions. Without black followers, and black causes to encourage and support, Jones might have ended up pastoring a tiny Methodist congregation in backwater Indiana, largely frustrated and entirely unknown” (273)Sunday marked the 40th anniversary of the massacre at Jonestown. Jim Jones is a name that many people know or have at least heard of. It’s a name that invokes fear and awe. “Mass suicide” is the story that most know about Jonestown, but much of that is a fiction or an incomplete truth. Those who refused to drink the concoction of grape Flavor Aid laced with cyanide were held down and injected with the poison or executed by the armed guards. This is how up to a third of Jonestown, nearly 300 people, met their end on November 18, 1978, murdered on Jim Jones’ command. When we remember Jonestown, we cannot only examine that gruesome ending. We have to look at what led up to it and the insidious methods used by Jones to manipulate his followers. Jones used white liberalism and performative allyship to target mostly poor Black folks, seduce them into his abusive cult, take their money, and orchestrate the death of over 900 people. Peoples Temple began as a community of citizens who believed in racial equality and social justice, but unbeknownst to them, they were being led by a man whose only motivation was power and control. What Jones wanted more than anything else was immortality. He wanted his name to be eternal and he wanted to achieve this immortality through having total sway and dominance over others, a man who “seemed to believe that once he did anything for someone, from that moment forward the person belonged to him, with no right to disagree about anything or ever leave” (60). [caption id="attachment_50250" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Jim Jones in Guyana[/caption] In the low-income, inner city Black communities of Indianapolis, Jones saw real injustice, but he also saw people he could easily manipulate and take advantage of. He saw an easy, unobstructed path to power and having people indebted to him, belonging to him, and he used his position as a spiritual leader to lure them into his web. “Trapped in poverty, confined to vermin-ridden slums where their children were educated in crumbling, underequipped schools, African Americans in the city most often found church to be their only source of solace. It was a relief to spend long hours there, listening to sermons reminding them of God’s love and His promise of heaven, eternal land in a milk-and-honey Promised Land. Commiseration now and better times after death were the message of the city’s black churches. Their ministers did little to help their members overcome the immediate challenges of Indianapolis and its apparent unassailable racism. It took a white preacher to show them how” (67).
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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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