Long-time Bangor Civil Rights leader James Varner, 86, delivers an emotional message about the last moments of George Floyd’s life and death to an anti-racism protest in Augusta. James Varner is the co-founder of the Bangor chapter of the NAACP and president of the Maine Human Rights Coalition.
In many or most activist organizations are people who build organizational or individual capacity and power, establishing themselves comfortably among the top ranks in their hierarchy of oppression they strive to become the ally “champions” of the most oppressed. While the exploitation of solidarity and support is nothing new, the commodification and exploitation of allyship is a growing trend in the activism industry.
Being an ally is about challenging ourselves daily to put others needs before our own comfort. It forces us to look out for our blindspots, to be accountable for our words and actions.
Most of all it requires 100% commitment to practice, practice, and practice, not when it is convenient or we are getting appreciated for our efforts but 24/7 whether someone else notices or not.
Communities of color continue to fight every day against racism, and heal from the effects. Allies can support them, and help dismantle the ways in which our institutions and culture are deeply rooted in oppression. While the decision to use your privilege for good is the right thing to do, it’s simply not enough. Here are five ways to be useful and effective as an ally, rather than just wearing the title.
Imagine this scenario.
It is a beautiful June day. A gentle breeze is blowing as smiles and gentle laughter greet one another; time for a cup of coffee. An argument erupts. “You owe me an apology” “No you owe me an apology” Voices raise and feet stamp. …
Some people find it easy to deny a part in the problem of racism. We may tell ourselves that of course prejudice is wrong, and after all, Friends and other white people who were on the forefront of the civil right movement. Yet white privilege has affected the very structure of our minds. We have become addicted to it.