Thursday, December 31, 2015
More Thoughts on Being an Ally
On December 26th I was asked to be a guest on Straight Talk with Timm Hudspeth on KOPN in Columbia, Missouri as a result of my recent essay on being a white ally. We had a great conversation, but it has made me reflect further on both what I wrote and on my role as an ally. In no particular order, her are some follow-up thoughts:
- I am a white, male, heterosexual, cisgender, professionally employed person living in coastal California. In a multitude of ways I live the American dream day in and day out and get to do so having endured virtually no struggle and having had ample support along the way. I live as so many wish they could. I am lucky in so many ways, beginning with simply with birth. That is why I must speak up, speak out, and speak often for those not so lucky.
- In the words of Chris Thinnes at the People of Color Conference last month, “To be an ally is not to witness but to be a warrior.” It is not enough to simply acknowledge inequity; I must speak up.
- It is not for me to suggest what the Black community should do about racism or related issues. It is not for me to suggest to women what to do about sexism or related issues. It is not for me to suggest to the homosexual community what to about homophobia or related issues. It is up to me to speak to White people, or men, or heterosexuals or so on as the case may be. It is amongst those like me that I can best be heard and make the greatest difference.
- If we all work to improve the areas in which we make the greatest difference we will all make a better community for ourselves and others. Every one of us has much to gain.
- We need to focus on communities. When doctors, police officers, teachers, firefighters, postal workers and so on are part of the communities in which they work we are bound to get greater ownership and care of those communities and better relationships with the people who need their services.
- The vast majority of public service works, police officers included, are doing the best they can, which is often amazing and heroic. Let’s not lose sight of that.
- I am far from a perfect ally. I have to consciously fight against the messages society and its media has immersed me in for 45 years. I make mistakes. Being perfect isn’t the goal or the point. Being aware and fighting the broader messages is.
- Education is the path that can yield the greatest results. It leads to employable skills, income, paths to sustainable wealth, and long-term community success.