In Trump's America, Oppressed Minority Communities Need "Accomplices" Not "Allies"


In the past week following Trump’s win, the nation has seen hate speech and hate related assaults by his supporters carried out in his name on the rise at an alarming rate. With that, a campaign to show allyship to people or colour, the LGBTQ community, and Muslims, White people have been encouraged to wear a safety pin proclaiming-  “You are safe with me” for those seeking aid . While shows of solidarity are appreciated, it simply is not enough. Marginalized communities need accomplices in fighting for rights, not ally’s whose actions do not create real and transformative change for those they claim to stand with.
As Lara Witt for Medium writes:
Have you seen people wearing those safety pins on their lapels, tops and coats? They’re the latest trend in allyship. For the low cost of $2 for a pack of 10 pins, you can show people that you’re one of the nice ones without having to actually dismantle white supremacy and do any hard work..

I’m taking a hard position on this because as nice as solidarity can be, it isn’t solidarity if nice white people aren’t confronting their racist relatives, co-workers, friends and acquaintances.

A safety pin is cute but i’ve seen solidarity trends come and go, and i haven’t actually felt safer around people who label themselves as allies. I’ve seen white people avoid oppressive situations, avoid interactions which require more than a shake of the head all because it was too much work.

A safety pin does not give PoC any proof of you actually dismantling oppressive structures. It’s a badge white people want to wear so that PoC don’t associate them with Trump. It’s performative allyship at best. It’s a sign which says, “don’t blame me, I didn’t vote for him! I’m not racist!”

This form of performative allyship is rooted in a pathological need that white people have for praise. But your safety pin is lazy.

With their privilege White people must act with the intention to actually create equity for others. In our society White men’s voices hold the most value, therefore for real change they are the ones who have the biggest opportunity to still be well received when trying to tackle topics aimed at dismantling injustice.
Witt continues:

The nice white people don’t actually confront white supremacy in the workplace, they’re not aware of microaggressions and even when they are they would rather not use their privilege to dismantle the pervasive inequalities around them. No, they have a safety pin, they didn’t vote for Trump.

Meanwhile they can maintain their own biases and fly under the radar. Wearing a safety pin does not show us that you challenged racism in the last eight years, it does not stop you from talking over our experiences within our spaces, it alleviates any pressure you may feel to actively tear apart the racist structures of this nation.

It is of note that “In America, where 62% of the population identifies as Caucasian, white people are easy to find.” Yet are the least visible to stand up in aftermaths of recent and ongoing injustices, namely those aimed towards Blacks in this country, such as the Charleston massacre, and the multitude of unwarranted deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement.

Rose Hackman of  The Guardian writes:

But white people have not been as visible in the aftermath of the Charleston massacre, where a young white man and his white supremacist ideals entered a historically black church and shot nine churchgoers dead.“People who are not black can no longer sit on the margins. They can no longer just express their sympathy: those are shallow words,” Arielle Newton, a 23-year-old black blogger said at a rally. “Black people didn’t enslave themselves. It shouldn’t be on them to correct that. White people have the responsibility to understand that they live in a racist society, a racist society they have created.”

Allyship allows people who don’t intend to create tangible change to self gratify.

Tanvi Yenna for describes many types of Allyship (summarizing the writings of an woman anonymous over that are less than affective in creating real meaningful change for marginalized individuals. If you find yourself identifying with one of the following- think of what you more you can do to create real and meaningful change for others without the same privilege that you may have.

Salvation/Missionary Ally

This kind of ally has romanticized notions of oppression, and treats oppressed people like victims and tokens instead of humans. They engage in things like exoticization, whitesplaining/mansplaining/etc., and other microaggressive (sometimes macroaggressive) commentary.

Exploitive/Co-opting Ally

These kinds of people seek to impose their own agenda through acts of condescension. They attend rallies and attempt to change the focus from the group’s work to their own personal projects and their own sadness about systemic racism or something. This ally truly engages in another form of liberalism.

Self-proclaiming/Confessional Ally

This ally is mostly concerned about getting “ally points”. They have no intention of actually abolishing entitlement.

Parachuter Ally

These people/organizations rush to the front lines of sexy movements to stay trendy and relevant. They essentially serve as missionaries with more funding, and often overlap with the savior ally. They engage in structural patronization.

Academic and Intellectual Ally

These allies use a lot of academic jargon and big words to talk about issues. They use knowledge and skills to patronize people who may not use complex language to talk about oppression. Academics are “fixated on unlearning oppression” instead of dismantling it. An academic ACCOMPLICE would use their resources and betray the institutions they previously belonged to.

Gatekeeper Ally

Gatekeepers seek to have power over others instead of with other people. They want powerful positions within organizations and make the work about their own resume-building and ego. They are known for withholding information and they have a tendency to create a dependency on themselves, such that a movement or organization lives and dies with them.

Navigator/Floater Ally

These allies familiarize themselves with the jargon and language surrounding anti-oppression, but have no meaningful dialogue about lived experiences and people who suffer from these systems. Other peoples’ oppression becomes their own personal projects. They fail to take responsibility for their own actions and are quick to be authoritarian figures about other peoples’ privilege. They dismiss confrontation and fail to see flaws in their own work.

Now in discovering that allyship is simply not enough, you may be asking yourself how you and become and accomplice to creating equity for others.  Here are some steps you can take as per Witt.

Bystander intervention is going to be necessary especially with the recent uptick in violence against us. If you witness intimidation or harassment, use your whiteness to comfort the person who is being harassed, speak to them, distract the harasser.

Confront your racist family members when they begin exposing their bigotry. Explain to them how their ideology is harmful and reduce it to what it is: hatred and a need for power over oppressed groups in order to feel superior. Racists need to be reminded that there are white people who are prepared to confront them on their hatred.

Contribute to your local anti-racism groups. Grassroots organizations are a valuable asset, they also provide support to their local communities by providing goods and resources. If the space is primarily run by PoC, contributing is good, but don’t co-opt the movement and don’t value your voice over theirs. Their experiences are more important than yours when discussing racism.

Be aware of the micro and macro aggressions which frequently take place in professional settings. Pay attention to how PoC are treated in comparison to their white coworkers, use your privilege to dismantle white supremacist structures within the workplace. This sounds scary to some, but white supremacy is primarily maintained under capitalist structures which rely heavily on the oppression of people of color within hierarchical structures.

Attend local protests and protect PoC who are attending should police forces become violent. I know this sounds like a risk but whiteness protects.

If you have a good and regular source of income, donate some funds to causes which support anti-racism and provide resources to women and the LBGTQ+ community. Help provide local shelters with blankets, clothes, paper goods, sanitary pads, tampons and other everyday use goods.

Spend your money wisely. Help support businesses owned by people of color, pay writers of color who are freelancing, tip them for their threads on Twitter which help educate you on racism, feminism and forms of oppression. Tip us for taking the time to answer your questions, many of us don’t get paid for our expertise.

Allyship is only valuable if it is tangible and an asset to people of color. A safety pin is only tangible for white people, it doesn’t support people of color in any the ways which I have listed above.

Going forward it is my hope that these tips will be of help to those who are wish to become an accomplice to equality for all- as opposed to just an ally passively standing on the sidelines. Dismantling oppressive structures is hard work, and it will take a lot of effort and sacrifice from all of those willing. Use the information above to refine your activism and see what real changes that you can make.

 (Article by Tasha Sharifa)