Thursday, August 21, 2008

For Your Information: This is What an Ally Does

I am at gathering of friends I have known for a long time. Some I've known longer. Some I am closer to than others.

A conversation starts on mixed-race identity.

The tragic mulatto/mulatta myth has been thrown forth:

  • Are those of mixed-raced inevitable victims of the racist dynamics of our world?
  • Do the therefore have only the identity that is imposed upon them from the outside but no "real" identity of their own to speak of?
  • Are they cursed to forever lament their fate, search in vain for a solid, immutable identity, waste away in confusion of who they are or ever could be?
I open my mouth to speak what should be obvious to anyone who reads this Black and Puerto-Rican bloguera's words on a regular basis. (Browse away if you are new, but here is a quick link primer on how the Kis feels about this pseudo & internalized racist b.s.)

But the words don't even leave my mouth before someone in the room, not of mixed-race, is taking up the challenge and batting back. Full throttle. Uncomplicated by her obvious UN-mixed-race-ness, she goes to the root of the problem. Without me having to say a word, without point to me as an example of case-in-point until AFTER the discussion, the challenge has been revealed as the racist b.s. it is, new interpretations have been offered instead, and everyone is reconsidering their relationship to their own identities in new ways.

I didn't even have to speak.

Allies are courageous. They keep it simple, they don't make it self-centric. They are so thorough in their defense that the person/people/community/idea they are defending that the defended person doesn't even need to offer a correction. They put themselves at risk of being called out as, "Hey! You aren't even ____! How can you talk?" because they come from a place of honest, lived reality and informed opinion (read a book, shawties!)

And MOST IMPORTANT--Allies are not benefactors or paternalists. They do not speak because others can't speak. I certainly have a mouth, teeth, tongue and a thinking brain, and I know how to use them all.

Allies speak because they see in others' oppressions the same system that oppresses themselves. Even when they are in privileged positions.

Allies 101. For your information.

1 comment:

T said...

"Are those of mixed-raced inevitable victims of the racist dynamics of our world?"

Totally unrelated to the theme of your post, but when I read this I was thinking:

Aren't all people the victims (or beneficiaries) of the racist dynamics of our world?

Just a thought.