An Open Letter About Allyship For White Men
Hey white guys! We need to discuss a chronic problem. The Women’s March in Washington DC is coming up this Friday and I’ve seen/read way too many white guys whining about not feeling invited as if the march is an exclusive party at a posh club. From Black Lives Matter to Pride parades, there is no shortage of well-meaning white men who say “I’m white. I promise I’m not shitty and I just want to help, but I’m tired of being shit on and excluded because I’m white.” Before we can talk about how you can get involved, let’s get some basic truths out of the way:
(1) Minorities don’t care about your feelings. We really don’t. Sorry not sorry. We’re too busy trying to get our own rights to obsess over you feeling slighted if we are cursing out the racist white hegemony.
(2) You aren’t as supportive as you think you are. I hate to break it to you but I’m 99% sure you’re not. For example, you say that you care about Black Lives Matter. How many marches have you participated in? Did you vote for candidates who supported demilitarizing the police? Do you donate to groups that are working to dismantle the biased legal structure in the United States? Have you visited any Black Lives Matter group websites? Instead of taking time to answer these questions, just do these things and then move on to point (3).
(3) You aren’t taking issue with the right people. Instead of complaining to minorities that you’re one of “the good ones,” why aren’t you talking to your conservative white friends and family about how you’re one of “the good ones?” Do you know how minorities find you annoying when you say shit like “I went to Africa and held a black baby with HIV and it changed my life?” Push that annoying talk onto your fellow whites to open their eyes. Every time your racist grandfather starts repeating Fox News bullet points about minorities, refute those arguments while saying you’re a “good white person.” Yes, every single time.
(4) If you actually were excluded from an event, you were probably being a dick. Have you ever listened to a person’s story about oppression and then responded with “Well, do you think you were overreacting?” That’s you being a dick. I know this is hard to understand in our current era where everyone deserves to be heard but voicing your opinions is neither required nor desired unless you are specifically asked. Once again, see point (1): It’s not about you.
Here’s an example from my own life. I am not trans but I have trans friends and I would call myself an ally. And these are the ways I show my allyship:
• I donate money to trans activist groups (Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Audre Lorde Center, etc.)
• I read articles to educate myself about trans issues.
• I don’t make self-aggrandizing Facebook posts about how much I “help” trans people.
• I don’t try to dominate the conversation about trans people because I understand that I am not trans.
• I listen to trans experiences and accept that their experiences are valid.
• I understand that despite the actions I’m taking to be a good ally, I know that there is more work to be done and that my responsibility is to be mindful of my own blind spots.
To help you white guys out even further with an analogy, let’s look at your ultimate white savior: Batman. Do you think Batman goes to women’s groups saying “Hey lady, I got you your purse back. Can you tell me why this woman is yelling #NotAllMen at me?” Do you see Batman posting on Instagram posed with a potential victim with a caption saying “Don’t worry, I got y’all!” and smiling emojis? Does Batman stroll into a homeless shelter and say “Hey my alter ego provides the food here for you guys so maybe you should stop calling Bruce Wayne a capitalist pig”? He doesn’t do any of that, because Batman understands that doing the work is more important than getting credit for doing the work. Batman understands that being hated is a part of the job. Batman isn’t working to make himself feel better; Batman is working for a crime-free city.
Much like Batman, our jobs as allies are to be invisible protectors against bigotry and prejudice (you don’t have to wear a rubber suit though). So the next time you see an article about a civil rights march, instead of thinking, “Why am I not allowed to go?” ask yourself “What can I do to make sure the people attending that march will be safely heard?” And also, for the love of Anubis, stop asking basic questions that you can find the answers to via the Internet.