Calling Yourself An "Ally" Is Not Enough

Calling Yourself An "Ally" Is Not Enough

Stop with the empty words, and get active and educated.
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Don't consider yourself an ally. You really shouldn't.

Why? It's an empty word, that describes what many see as a static state. Allyship, as I'll elaborate on in this article, should not be considered an identity or even a state of being. “To ally” means, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “to give [your] support to another group or country”. It's a verb. Thus, when you participate in action on behalf of a marginalized group of which you are not a part, you are allying with that group. But much like one’s identity is not defined as a “shopper” because they once stepped inside Walmart, so too is one not considered an ally after performing a single good deed.

Too often, those with one or more privileges become allies– or at least, say they are– as a way of gaining social capital in a society that tends to laud pointless displays of ostensible solidarity that are ultimately devoid of meaning. Why wear a safety pin (which has become the ultimate in performative allyship) when you can take action against racist violence? Why simply wear a safety pin when you can educate bigots, so people of color don’t have to? The relationship of an ally to a marginalized group should not involve the ally getting credit for work they should be doing anyway, while those actually suffering oppression go without recognition.

A closely-linked trend in allyship is one in which the ally feels guilt and shame for their relative privilege, and seeks out an oppressed person to absolve them of it. Not only is this performative guilt counterproductive to the cause that an ally is supposed to be helping with, but it drains their marginalized counterpart of energy, forcing them to prioritize the guilt of the ally over their own wellbeing. An integral part of allying (the verb) with marginalized people is taking the burden of education on oneself. It takes time, and work, and the process of self-education and simultaneous unlearning of internalized oppression will never be fully complete. So-called “allies” need to stop navel-gazing and waxing eloquent about their own ignorance, and start listening to what marginalized people have to say. They need to stop performing allyship to make themselves feel better, and start acting in opposition to oppression because it’s the right thing to do.

For a long time, I wondered why these bizarre and unhelpful behaviors seemed to be endemic to allies as a whole. Then, I listened to the March 8th episode of NPR’s Code Switch podcast on the fraught territory of allies and safety pins, which inspired this article. A contributor on the podcast noted that a necessary factor that locates one as an “ally” is the ally’s privilege. White people are the only ones who can call themselves “allies” to people of color, straight people are the ones who function as “allies” to gay people. Allyship is a barrier between the oppressed and the oppressor.

So, by defining oneself as an ally to a certain marginalized group, a privileged person can simultaneously appear to be fighting against oppression, while benefitting from that very system. If oppression did not exist, there would be no more “allies”. They would not be needed. And that, I think, would make a lot of privileged “allies” very upset, indeed.

By all means, ally yourself with marginalized groups and fight on their/our behalf. But there is no need to identify yourself as an “ally” for the sake of boosting your own social capital. Educate yourself and others, amplify the voices of our most marginalized, and take action when your social position enables you to. No one is always, invariably an ally; that is an action you must take again and again. Remember, what we should be fighting for is a world in which privilege no longer gives some voices more strength and credibility than others; in which socially constructed hierarchies no longer dominate and ruin so many lives.

No one needs people to call themselves “allies” and call it a day. We need people who will fight the good fight because it is the right thing to do.


So, what should you do? First: get educated! Here are a few places to go:

Race / Racism / White Privilege

Very Basic (But Accurate) Trans Info

Intersex Issues

A (now-inactive but still available) blog written by a black woman on many intersecting oppressions / issues, featuring personal essays, critical academic work, and media analysis. An invaluable resource!

I have also written at length about queer/trans issues, disability / mental illness, and socioeconomic / racial inequality.

This is a very basic and non-exhaustive starting point for self-education about several (of many) issues. To further learn and grow, I recommend you take a college-level course on these issues, or at least check out a syllabus for such a course to find new reading material.

Cover Image Credit: Jon Yoon

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Islam Is Not A Religion Of Peace, But Neither Is Christianity

Let's have in honest converation about the relgious doctrine of Islam

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Islam is not a religion of peace.

Christianity is also not a religion of peace.

But, most people in both religions are generally peaceful.

More specifically, bringing up the doctrine of Christianity is a terrible rebuttal to justify the doctrine of Islam.

That is like saying, "Fascism is not a good political ideology. Well, Communism isn't any good either. So, Fascism is not that bad after all."

One evil does not justify another evil. Christianity's sins do not justify Islam's.

The reason why this article is focused on Islam and not Christianity is the modern prevalence of religious violence in the Islamic world. Christianity is not without its evil but there is far less international terrorist attacks and mass killing perpetrated by Christians today than by those of Islam.

First, let's define "religious killings," which is much more specific than a practicer of a religion committing a murder.

A religious killings are directly correlated with the doctrines of the faith. That is different a human acting on some type of natural impulse killing someone.

For example, an Islamic father honor killing his daughter who was raped is a religious killing. But an Islamic man who catches his wife cheating and kills her on the spot is a murder, not a religious killing. The second man may be Islamic but the doctrine of Islam cannot be rationally held at fault for that killing. Many men with many different religions or experience would make the same heinous mistake of taking a life.

Second, criticizing a doctrine or a religion is not a criticism of everyone that practices the religion.

It is not even a criticism of everyone who make mistake while inspired by the religions. Human are willing to do heinous things when governed by a bad cause. Not every World War 2 Nazis was a homicidal maniac but human nature tells them to act this way in order to survive in their environment. It is hard to fault a person from traits that comes from evolutionary biology and natural selection.

However, commenting on a philosophy, ideology or a religion is not off limits. Every doctrine that inspires human action should be open for review. The religion may be part of a person's identity and it holds a special place in its heart but that does not mean it should be immune to criticism.

Finally, before going into a deconstruction of the myth that Islam is a religion of peace, there needs to be a note about the silencing of talking about Islam.

There is a notion in Western Society that if a person criticizes Islam, then that person hates all Muslims and the person suffers from Islamophobia. That is not the case, a person to criticize religion without becoming Donald Trump. In Western Society criticizing fundamental Christians is never seen as an attack on all Christians because there is a lot of bad ideas in the Bible that Christians act on. Therefore, criticizing Islam should have the same benefit of the doubt because the Quran has many bad ideas in it.

The Quran advocates for war on unbelievers a multitude of times. No these verses are not a misreading or bad interpretation the text. Here are two explicit verses from the Quran that directly tell Followers to engage in violence:

Quran 2: 191-193:

"And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (disbelief or unrest) is worse than killing... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists and wrong-doers)"

Quran 2: 216:

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

There is no rational way to interrupt these passages in a peaceful way. The whole premise of both passages is to inspire followers that war against the unbeliever is justified.

The first verse advocates for genocide against non-believers for the mere transgression that a society worships a different god or worships another god along with Allah.

The second passage is arguable more dangerous because the first passage just advocate that fighting may be a necessity, while the second passage encourages it. The second passage claims that war on the unbeliever is a good thing under the eyes of Allah.

The reason why these passages are dangerous is because they directly incite religious violence. For most followers of Allah, these passages are ignored or they convince themselves the passages means something they do not. However, for a large numbers of followers that view the text of the Quran as the unedited words of Allah, these texts become extremely dangerous. These passages become all the rational they need to wage war on non-believers.

This is dangerous because there are millions of followers of Islam worldwide that believe every statement in the Quran is true.

Therefore, the Quran becomes a direct motivation and cause for its followers to attack non-followers. Rationally one can understand where the Islam follower comes from, if a person truly believes that Allah or God himself wrote these words then why would you not comply.

Especially when there is verses in the Quran that says the Follower who does not fight the infidel is not as worthy of a Follower that does wage war against the non-believer (Quran 4:95). Finally, when male Followers are told that their martyrdom fighting for the faith will be rewarded with an eternity in paradise with 72 virgins for personal pleasure. If a Follower truly believes all of this is the spoken word of Allah then there is more rational why a person would commit these atrocities then why they would not.

Men and women are radicalized by these passages on a daily basis.

No, it is not just the poor kid in Iraq that lost his family to an American bombing run that indiscriminately kills civilians but also the middle classed Saudi Arabian child or some Western white kid that finds the Quran appealing. If radicalization were just poor people, then society would not have much to be worried about. However, Heads of States, college educated people and wealthy Islamic Followers are all being radicalized and the common dominator is the doctrine of Islam.

Osama Bin Laden, one of the most infamous terrorist in history, was not a poor lad that was screwed by the United States military industrial complex. Bin Laden was the son of a billionaire, that received an education through college from great schools. There is no other just cause for Bin Laden to orchestrate such grievous attacks on humanity besides religious inspirations. A person can rationally tie Islam Followers gravitation towards terrorism to a specific verse. Quran 3: 51 tells readers,

"Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers."

Any rational person can tie Islamic passages like this directly to terrorism. It is not a complicated correlation to like Nazism and Jewish persecution to Christianity. The Holy Book of Islam directly encourages the Followers of Islam to inflict terrorism unto the non-believer.

So why do some many people deny these obvious truths about Islam and violence?

Political Correctness and the want to not be viewed as a bigot. The correlations here are as direct as the terrors of the Spanish Inquisitions and Catholicism and no one is afraid to retrospect and say, "Yes Christianity caused the direct murder of thousands of people". A person would not even be controversial if one stated that both World Wars has significant religious undertones. However if anyone states that terrorism and violence has a direct link with Islam then there is an outcry.

Even President Obama refused to use the terms Islam and Muslim when publicly talking about the War on Terrorism. I am a hypocrite also because I used the term Islamic Follower instead of Muslim in an attempt to sound more political correct.

That is a problem when society refuse to use terms that are correct in an attempt to not offend anyone. Imagine if scientist could not report their findings because the underlying politics. Society needs to be able to have open dialogue about this problem or else it will never heal. Society needs to throw away the worrisome about being politically correct and focus on identifying the problems and solving them.

The world of Islam needs to open themselves up to this criticism.

There can no longer be a closing of dialogue where the West cannot speak on the doctrines of Islam because they are not partakers (That applies to all organized religion too, especially the Catholic Church). People who draw Muhammed must no longer be threatened with attacks on their life.

When Islamic women and men speak up about the sins of Islam, they must stop being silenced. If humanity is going to take steps into the future with better technology and more dangerous weaponry, then we need to solve this problem with Islam and gradually to organized religion at all.

If not it will doom us way before we get there…

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this article follow my podcast on Twitter @MccrayMassMedia for more likewise discussions.

Cover Image Credit:

https://unsplash.com/photos/JFirQekVo3U

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What The Bible Really Says About Following The US-Mexico Border Crisis Laws

Hint: It doesn't say we should support tearing families apart.

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As the inhumane separation of families at the US-Mexico border (not to mention the conditions they are being held in) has elicited strong lashback--and rightfully so-- what truly breaks my heart is how the Bible (and subsequently Christianity as a whole) is being misused to defend these actions, such as when Attorney General Jeff Sessions quoted Romans 13.

He stands behind the notion that the law is law, no matter what. Those parents broke the law when they crossed the border illegally, so they must face the consequences.

Nevermind the extreme fear of being torn from their loved ones. Nevermind the immense hurt, both physical and emotional. Nevermind the heavy hearts drained of all hope, the broken souls of people desperate to provide a new, better life for their loved ones.

Because the law is the law.

Now, I was raised in a Christian home, exposed to various practices and denominations, and I still continue to explore my own ideas of who God is, if and what I believe with regard to the Christian faith. But one thing has always been clear: it is all about love.

At the end of the day, the entire belief system is based on the premise of unconditional, self-sacrificial, unadulterated love.

In fact, to love is in and of itself a "law," the ultimate command given by Christ.

In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus tells a Sadducee, a teacher of religious law, that "you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' No other commandment is greater than these."

Jesus placed loving one's neighbor on the same level of significance as loving God, showing just how seriously the command should be taken.

He emphasized loving others above all else, encouraging--demanding, even--his followers to do the same. His followers, often foreigners traveling to strange lands themselves, were to be the embodiment of authentic love, to live compassionately, to show hospitality and kindness to those whom they encountered.

Why should we be any different?

What those like AG Sessions who stand behind their defense of "the law is the law" fail to see is that for Christians, for true Christ followers, love is the law.

Further on in that same Romans 13 passage, the Apostle Paul (who was executed for breaking the law, by the way) writes, "If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God's law… These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God's law." (v. 8b-10)

Love does no wrong. Love fulfills the law.

This is the law Christians should be fighting to protect, the "clear and wise command" they should be following.

What does that mean?

It means we have to stop this horrid practice of separating families at the border.

It means we have to put this law of love first and stand up to a government policy that is tearing parents from their children, that is the definition of cold and heartless.

It means we have to do more than just admit that this is unjust, do more than see a post on social media and send up a prayer.

It means we must act, must speak up and fight back for our neighbors, must demand that this behavior not only cease now, but also ensure that nothing of the sort ever happens in our country again.

It means that we should stop focusing so much on "the law," and start focusing on the fulfillment of the law.

It means we must love.

Cover Image Credit:

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