In general, I don’t know what I’m talking about, so I appreciated all the love and support from my first post about steps toward allyship. Rereading through that post, I continued to pat myself on the back for articulating myself clearly and for inserting humor (treating yourself to compliments from yourself is encouraged – so I ask you give yourself a compliment right now).
I left a cliffhanger more cliffhangery than the Lost Season 1 Finale, so I’m back a whole eight months later with not four, but TWO additional steps to being an ally. You heard me, I cut my promise in half because this self-identifying dude is still trying to figure his s*** out. If this stuff was this easy, they’d be teaching it as an elective in middle school. In all fairness, I loved middle school and had a hard time in math class learning PEMDAS, so props to middle schoolers for being legit and super smart.
TO THE GOOD STUFF
So a quick recap of 1-4:
Step 1: This step is unrecognized privilege.
Step 2: you’ve gotta do some self-work realizing your privileges and its affects on your relationships.
Step 3: beaming yourself down from some holy social justice pedestal.
Step 4: listen, support, and understand you still are clueless.
A bit of a reflection on steps 1-4, if I may. I still like these steps because they don’t really give you an answer besides checking yourself. Based on my interactions, people still need to check themselves. I still check myself every day. A fun/sad activity I indulge in every day is to write down one way that my privilege showed itself that day. It’s a good reminder to myself that just because I consider myself a social justice gladiator (thanks, SCANDAL), doesn’t mean that I’m perfect (steps 1, 2, 3, and 4 are reminders of that). So try that out and let me know how you do.
**refer to the photo above for suggest facial expressions to each step**
Step five: Stay updated on the news front. Being an ally isn’t some party trick that impresses people and it’s not a way for you to feel closer to an oppressed group. Being an ally is about understanding your privilege and dismantling that privilege. Did you read about the SCOTUS decisions on DOMA, Voting Rights Act, or the Indian Child Welfare Act? Following the Trayvon Martin trial? Did you follow the Wendy Davis filibuster (so badass)? How about the Paula Deen situation? For me, reading this stuff isn’t on the checklist for being an ally, reading the news about social equality/equity/justice is my sports section. Luckily, I’ve created a network of friends who also love “sports” and send me articles/news. You should develop that network!
Step six: Start having conversations with your fellows privileged people. I know 1-5 are very internal steps, but what I have learned in the past few months is that working with other people in your privilege group to talk about your identity and its effect on others is enlightening. It’s funny how when I first started this whole ally journey that I found myself only talking about race with people of color or only talking about gender/sex with women. This has to stop if you want to be an ally. It’s not a person of color’s responsibility to hear you babble about your struggles with being white or explain to you what it means to be a person of color. Go have those conversations with other privileged people and try to gain some understanding about yourself/your group. That’s not saying you can’t have those conversations with people of color, just ask yourself why you want to talk to them about race.
Beware, step three (standing on the pedestal) will bite you in the ass in this step. For some reason, people wanna dance around in their sashes of tolerance, acceptance, and knowledge when talking to others. All conversations should be equal, even if the person does not have as much training or experience as you. You’re trying to get people on the bad ass side, not scare people from your turf. So when you have conversations with people, have the courtesy to respect their opinions and thoughts and realize that you were both/all born into this world with whatever privilege and it takes people shorter/longer times to understand the scope and needs to dismantling their privilege. It’s not a race, y’all, and the more people we support in becoming more tolerant, the faster equality is going to get here.
In closing, we’re starting to get more into the action-oriented steps, but I never believe that you should be leaving steps 1-5 behind. Never get ahead of yourself and always be checking yourself – because that’s the most important step of all. I also ask that you remember that people are individuals first and are not defined by the identities they hold. Love them, support them, and dance with them. Dance with them to Robyn.
I have a good idea about steps 7, 8 (omg, this is getting excessive) – but I need to think on them a little bit more.
Give yourself some self-love. You deserve it.