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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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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If You Live In Florida And You Haven't Heard About Anna Eskamani, It's Time You Did

Everything you need to know about the badass woman running for Florida State House District 47!

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Anna V. Eskamani is the democratic progressive candidate for Florida's State House District 47. She is killing the game with her forward-thinking ideas and passion to help Florida!

Anna Eskamani

Eskamani is an Orlando native and daughter of immigrants. Her parents worked hard with her mother working at minimum wage jobs and her father working as an electrical engineer. They, as well as Anna, are alumni's of The University of Central Florida. When Anna Eskamani attended UCF she participated in environmental issues, international human rights, and the College Democrats at UCF. She served as the organization's Women's Caucus Chair and then the State Women's Caucus Chair. Also, she was a member of the Iranian Student Organization, the Political Science Honor Society (Pi Sigma Alpha), along with many other social justice groups. Anna received her bachelor degrees in Political Science and Women's Studies and a certificate in Service Learning. She later got duel masters with graduate degrees in Nonprofit Management and Public Administrations, along with a Certificate in Gender Studies.

2011 Anna Eskamani at University of Central Florida Credit: @AnnaForFlorida on Instagram

After her college career began her extraordinary political career.

Eskamani is studying for her Ph.D. in Public Affairs at UCF, serving as a Senior Director for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, and serves on many community boards.

@AnnaForFlorida on Instagram

So what do you need to know about Anna Eskamani and this upcoming election?

Anna Eskamani wants to help Florida. She wants to go to Tallahassee and fix the broken system run by corrupt Politian's. "Corruption is rampant. From the misuse of public dollars to cases of sexual assault and harassment, not only have we forgotten how to govern, but we seem to have forgotten basic notions of respect and civility too."

Her website also quotes her saying "We can and must return to an age of sanity, a time when Americans – all Americans – stood not divided, but united. A time of integrity and decency. A time when we could disagree without being disagreeable."

Eskamani wants equal opportunity for Floridians.

"One where the needs of people are prioritized over the personal agendas of politicians. One where we can easily access our elected officials, and hold them accountable. One where our natural resources aren't sold to the highest bidder; where education is more than just an assembly line of poorly made tests. One where all people can gain access to high-quality health care and live a life free of mass shootings and fear."

Anna Eskamani platforms include the following issues:

  • Affordable Housing & Public Transit
  • Arts and Culture
  • Economy & Jobs
  • Educational Access & Attainment
  • Environmental Protection
  • Equality for All
  • Government Accountability & Ethics
  • Healthcare as a Human Right
  • Safety & Security
  • Supporting Those in Need
  • Women's Rights


Anna Eskamani

Anna Eskamani is on Florida's side. She is an activist creating rallies and events for the people to attend and get educated on, getting endorsed and approved by the right politicians such as President Barack Obama, Bill Nelson, Val Demings, Stephanie Murphy, Patty Sheehan, Buddy Dyer, Andrew Gillum, and Bernie Sanders.

Anna Eskamani and Bill Nelson

Anna Eskamani and Bernie Sanders

Chris King, running with Andrew Gillum Gubernatorial Candidate Credit: Instagram @AnnaForFlorida

Organizations such as FASA, Opportunity First, Women's March Florida, Sunrise Movement, Democratic Progressive Caucus, Moms Demand Action, Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, Our Revolution, SEIU, Florida Planned Parenthood, and so So SO many more organizations.

Anna Eskamani is for the people. She has the votes from the Democrats and The Republicans.

Republicans for Anna

She stands up for the people and wants to fight the corrupt Politian's. Anna Eskamani is the progressive politician Florida needs!

Andrew Gillum for Governor, Anna Eskamani

Anna Eskamani is running for Democrat Florida State House, District 47. Voting is on November 6th for the state of Florida. Your vote matters. Elect people who are going to change politics for the better.

Read my article about how you can contribute to the election besides just voting! Review Anna Eskamani's website for more information about her campaign. All information about Anna Eskamani is sourced directly from her website and verified social media accounts!

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