As allies, our role is not to attempt to empathize with those who are oppressed.
Empathy, by definition, is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. We are not in their position, nor will we ever be. Empathy is not an ally’s job, but support and empowerment is. There is so much we can do that doesn’t pertain to empathy. If you’re a white ally who supports #BlackLivesMatter, saying that you “identify” with the movement erases the undoubtedly real oppression that minority groups face day after day; we don’t need to be part of a movement/group to support it.
As allies, we are not permitted access to appropriation and slurs because we “support” a group.
Wearing a hijab because you “support the Syrian refugees” is in fact not support at all: it’s cultural appropriation and it’s offensive, so congratulations, you played yourself. Using slurs that are reclaimed by a group is not “respecting the culture”; its bigotry.
As allies, we should acknowledge our privilege in order to induce change.
The first step in order to make a change is acknowledging that it is needed. The acknowledgement of our privilege is the first step of destroying the patriarchy . By saying “We are all human”, you are erasing the struggles of those who are oppressed. If everyone truly believed that, this post would be obsolete.
As allies, our voices should never be louder than those who we are supporting.
If you are white, you don’t decide what or what doesn’t offend a PoC. If you are straight, you don’t decide what or what doesn’t offend a LGBTQ+ person. If you are able-bodied, you don’t decide what or what doesn’t offend someone with a disability. Part of being an ally is supporting what an oppressed person says, not speaking for them.
As allies, we shouldn’t expect a reward.
Being an ally, in simpler terms, is simply not being a bigot. When put in those terms, does it make sense why we shouldn’t expect praise?
Article by Travis
Art by Charis