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Linkspamming How to be an Ally

19 September 2011

Today on Fannie’s Room I left the following comment:

One of the more important things Internet Feminism has reinforced for me is that if an idea is correct, I’m obligated to agree with it no matter how much the author has hurt my ego or my worldview.  This has helped me argue with more strength and conviction, but just as importantly, has made me be less of a jerk in spaces where I’m the one with privilege.

Though this comment was left in the context of a particular string of tone arguments on a feminist blog, it’s not really about that.  Rather, it’s something I always try to keep in mind when I’m out and about in activist spaces.  It works when I need to encourage myself not to mince words about oppression.  It works when I need to remind myself that other marginalized folks are doing the same thing.  I don’t get to have my own reality.  I’m not entitled to coddling when the truth hurts.  I’m also not obligated to stick around a second longer than I want to.  Knowing all of these things has done nothing but benefit me and the activist stuff I do.  

One more comment, then on to the links.  Privileged people seem to have an especially hard time dealing with spaces that aren’t intended for us/them.  (I’m not referring to blogs that have an explicit ban on male or white participants, for example, but general spaces that are geared toward marginalized folks.)  The main thing to really digest is that, unless otherwise stated, these spaces do not exist for the benefit of privileged points of view.  They aren’t arenas for testing out rhetorical prowess.  They aren’t staffed by friendly folks just itching to be of 101-level assistance to every passerby.  They don’t need an Official Delegate from Privilegeland to weigh in on the subject.  (If only we had a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for every “As a straight man, I’m ok with gay people, but” or “It makes me sad, as a white woman, to hear about racism in feminist history.”)  Take the opportunity to quiet your wordmakers and learn.  Marginalized folks will get by without you.  Really.

Anyway, I’m not interested in writing my own ally manifesto or aspiring to be the Number One Internet Resource on the matter, so on with the links.  Most of them have overlapping material and mainly cover 101 stuff, but this is a 101 subject for a lot of people, and a little brushing up won’t hurt the rest of us.  (Disclaimer: I read each link, but as I found a lot of them through simple Googling, I can’t guarantee that the parent sites are free from problems.)

Finally, as I often do, I have to suggest that wannabe allies familiarize themselves with Derailing for Dummies.  If you find yourself about to make one of those arguments, just don’t.  Close mouth, put fingers in mittens, play Angry Birds if absolutely necessary.

Happy justicemaking!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 20 September 2011 11:08

    Thanks for posting these links. I look forward to using them as resources in the future when privileged persons become “problematic.” And, thanks for adding your voice in my forum.

    • 28 September 2011 21:43

      Thanks for having me there! (And whoa, late response on my part.)


  1. HELP, I HAVE PRIVILEGE: More comments on how to be an ally « The Fivefold Path

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