Allies And Accomplices: How We Can Hold Ourselves Accountable
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Allies And Accomplices: How We Can Hold Ourselves Accountable

"I've learned that I still have a lot to learn."-Maya Angelou

171
Allies And Accomplices: How We Can Hold Ourselves Accountable

In the past week, my school has been rocked by racist comments that were circulated on an anonymous social media site. Amidst a student-led protest and demands for curriculum changes and social revisions, a lot of questions were raised about the kind of environment a mostly white liberal arts college creates for students of color, and how it's possible to make those students safer and that community more inclusive. One of the main ways that this is being explored on our campus is in terms of how we as students can hold ourselves accountable for our actions.

Here is a collection of some of the ways that have been explored, in the discussions that have been taking place, that white allies can better support their peers of color, and help everyone feel safe and productive in their place of education.

Please note, before reading further, that this article is a product of personal research I (as a white student) have been doing to explore how I can be a better ally to those around me. I am completely open to constructive criticism, correction, and suggestions as to places and ideas I should explore next.

Define Accountability

Becoming accountable starts with a question: what is accountability?

Accountability is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "the state of being accountable, responsible". When we talk about accountability, in this case, it means holding yourself responsible for the privilege you possess as a white person. Do you tend to talk over your friends of color when you're having a conversation? Do you make generalized comments about a certain race? Do you stop to consider, for example, that when you go to buy band-aids, you can almost always be sure that they will match your skin color?

It also means intersectionality: if you call yourself a feminist, your feminism should encompass the struggles of women of color, and should not just be "white feminism". If you're talking about LGBTQ* rights, you should be talking about the rights of black genderqueer women and Asian trans men, and not be using whiteness as a normalized baseline.

Solidarity, Not "Ally Theater"

The term "ally theater" comes from Black writer Mia Mckenzie, who states that " 'allyship' has become more pointless performance than anything actually useful to marginalized people". Being an ally, she argues, shouldn't mean feeling compelled to take up space or to alert people of color that you're trying really, really hard to "help" them. (In fact, I can recognize the truth in her comments in the very fact that I, a white female, am writing this article and sharing it for others to see.) If you need to be recognized for being an ally, she reiterates, you may want to reconsider why you're doing it in the first place.

Listening

This is a pretty good strategy for any situation, really. You will not always be the expert in everything. If there is someone who knows more about a particular topic or experience than you, you should be listening to them, not the other way around. If a professor of medieval history was telling you about Anglo-Saxon modes of culture, and your only connection with the period is having read Beowulf in sixth grade, you wouldn't think you were qualified to talk over them, would you? The same holds true for social situations, albeit in a much more serious way: you shouldn't be talking over those with experiences of racism and racial violence that you don't have. Value other people's thoughts, and contribute your own in a way that is additive to other's experiences, not reductive of them.

Research

As with everything in college, holding yourself accountable starts with doing a little research. This means not only learning about Black history but about the history (and continuation) of oppression that you are a part of. It means educating yourself on microaggressions, questioning the canon and the standard narratives you learned in class and making an effort to read Black poets and writers (like Imani Cezanne, who spoke at our school last month). It means if you happen to be in college, demanding a more diverse curriculum, and a more diversified teaching of that curriculum. And, most of all, it means being receptive to ideas you haven't considered, opening your mind to new points of view, and always trying to see things from the perspective of others.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

1243010

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

779443
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

776155
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

501360
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

311538
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

447543

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.

302457

Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

203642
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments