when someone walks into a room where you are playing piano and they are very surprised to see you playing the piano
People keep saying that a mixed raced society will end racism and history proves that untrue and dumb.
All of Latin America proves this. You got a continent of people indoctrinated to mixing. Legit laws and treaties were passed to bring whites into Latin America in hopes to making mixed race people because por lo meno, their’s sangre buena. Making mixed raced babies for the purpose of anti-racism is as dangerous as blanquamiemto and mejorando la raza.
Conditional anti-racism “allyship” from Whites used as a bargaining chip is a nuisance at best, abuse by the norm and dehumanization at worse. It is ridiculous and it is common. I don’t think in a binary thus I am not suggesting unconditional ”allyship” as if I’m discussing conceptions of love as “unconditional.” No. Allyship should not exist within this binary in the first place but be a process involving consistent introspection and reflection without centering White privilege over the lived experiences of Black people as the praxis. As the brilliant Black feminist @FeministGriote has said "being an ally is a process, not an identity."
I recently tweeted about the irritating “threats” from Whites who “warn” me and other Black people about how they will stop being an “ally” if we challenge them when usually what happens is they barged their way into a conversation or space, demanded to be centered, tried to change the topic, engaged in gaslighting or did something else clearly abusive.
This thing where White “allyship” (already regularly problematic, abusive, flawed without concern, and at times just the same racism as non-allyship) is held over my head like some sort of “special gift”—that I should be thankful for to the point the actual oppressions that create the potential for allyship cannot be critiqued and I cannot even disagree with something someone White says to me where they think they are going to “debate” my humanity as if there are 2 “sides” to an issue when one side is dehumanization and the other side is survival—is so disgustingly vile to me. Worse, many who think these unacceptable actions online is allyship shudder when it’s time to support a Black woman like me offline. Believe that. I’ve seen it and lived it.
Certainly this critique could apply to many oppressions in terms of privilege being leveraged over the oppressed person’s head, but I am speaking about RACE right now. And how I experience multiple intersecting oppressions is always a factor, but let me be clear that this conditional “allyship” most frequently occurs by Whites and in regards to race; sometimes specifically anti-Blackness where they strut non-Black women of colour in my face as a model of what I should be like versus “angry” and Black (which directly connects to misogynoir). Sometimes it is in regards to the intersection of race and gender for me as a Black woman since the additional expectations of servitude shaped by the mammy archetype accompanies their expectations to not be critiqued and how they will still hold a Black man’s opinions/experiences over mine, while still holding unexamined racist and anti-Black views on us both and all other Black people.
Irritatingly enough, instead of considering why I experience this “conditional allyship” on the hour online (I mean, most recently this morning in fact; twice) and regularly offline when in political spaces with Whites, most Whites who consider themselves “allies” are already ready to: proclaim “not all Whites,” email me some guilt-ridden email where they expect to be reassured on how good their “allyship” is and shift attention to their privilege, not my experience with racism, say “fuck” allyship altogether when they weren’t good allies to start with or respond in a completely overtly racist fashion. Then there will be the ones who will Whitesplain everything I just wrote/alter my words to other Whites and think that speaking over me is “allyship.”
If the affirmation and protection of my humanity is a conditional “gift,” that I should jump through hoops to “earn” (since anti-Blackness means the denial of Black humanity through words all the way to dehumanizing violence is boiler plate) then they’re suggesting that I am not really human and there’s nothing worse that they could suggest. (I mean, even in the smallest circumstances Whites operate from a plane of dehumanization when interacting with me, which I’ve discussed many times, most recently in a Storify: "I Didn’t Know You Were A Person" and Other Tales of Dehumanization of A Black Woman.)
How are they “good allies” when the complete lack of introspection and self-awareness regarding their behavior is there? Clearly their endless consumption (and consumption itself, from a position of White privilege is NOT allyship or activism) of my words means nothing in terms of actual expansion of perspective. Having the same “do not dehumanize me” conversation with someone after every tweet/conversation/essay etc? I want any Whites who do this completely away from me. And certainly having boundaries then evokes thoughts of my actual humanity in their minds so they lash out to violate them as best possible.
Part of the problem may be the individualism ascribed to Whiteness (where they reject an institutional/system perspective on racism and only view oppression as isolated racist incidents or “misunderstandings”) means they see “liking” me personally as “allyship” and “disliking” me as grounds to remove it. This is not about interpersonal relationships though and their fear of being cornered or challenged by the very type of person that they were taught is not human let alone smart enough to be knowledgeable on something that they are not, an expert on my own experiences and a subject in my own life, not an object. Allyship is not about friendship. It is a process by which Whites actively choose to challenge White supremacy beyond consumption of the pain that it causes in my life. I don’t need them to like me or be in my space to do that work if they personally dislike me. At the same time, when their dislike is based on resentment of me affirming my humanity and challenging oppression, then it is salient and a part of their White privilege unchecked. (I’m honestly not here “hoping” for their friendship and not focused on “making” them my allies; I wrote this because I write for myself and to Black women [though other marginalized people read here] and am describing abuse that not only I have experienced. Speaking truth about experience is important to my womanism.)
The irony is that while they don’t want to check their privilege, they’re literally broadcasting it by expecting Black people like me to “perform” to “win” my humanity as a “gift.” They “threaten” me with "well you’re gonna lose a good ally!" This ludicrous “threat” is based on abuse and dehumanization in the first place. Thus, my response? "Bye. Just…bye."
Related Essay Compilations: 2013: A Year Of White Supremacy and Racism In Mainstream Feminism, On Race IV, On Race III, On Race II, On Race.