I’ve been snowed under with the start of classes, some papers due, some abstracts due, a meeting last week, and, of course, this upcoming event. But I’m getting a little caught up (even if this is a scrambled post), and saw discussion of being a blogging ally at a couple of places of note:
In particular, Samia blogged about how others could be good allies within her post about race and science blogging (before she had to pull out of attending — major ). I’m going to quote a chunk at length:
Online? If you’re a “majority” blogger (in any sense of the word– white or male or abled or cis-gendered, whatever) and you enjoy a blog written by a “minority” individual, try to showcase one of their posts on your blog once in a while. Write your take on their post and send your readers to a link. Show some love, basically.
Offline…keep talking to the people you are allying yourself with. Try not to sit on your ass feeling good about yourself for too long. It’s great to identify as an ally, but that’s not enough. I think it’s about how you live your life. Don’t put up with racist bullshit in any part of your life. Get ready to be “that person” who may sometimes have a problem with something everyone else thinks is okay. It’s not about being confrontational as much as striving for moral consistency.
One of the most important things an ally can do is to validate the experience of a person of colour who opens up to them. Common traps that may push someone away: “I’m sure they didn’t mean it.” “Well, I don’t see a lot of that around HERE.” “It used to be a lot worse X years ago.” (I get this from older individuals a LOT and have to resist wondering if they personally owned slaves or something)
Validate, validate, validate. Not getting validation is like…filing a rape report and subsequently receiving a lecture on the amount of false rape complaints people make. Learning to listen is a big step, and a big deal. I don’t want my allies to be self-flagellating about how much white people suck or whatever. I’d rather they listen to what I have to say and respect me enough to believe I’m not making shit up. If I ask for help or advice, I want an honest opinion. And I’d like to know they’re not some two-faced piece of shit who acts one way around me and is a completely different person in every other facet of life. You know that feeling you get when you realize your “friend” doesn’t necessarily care about what happened to you, they just want you to calm down and shut up so they can forget what you said and keep mentally coasting? Yeah. HATE IT.
Another thing I want to mention is that some allies get kinda crazy and start shit “on behalf” of people who haven’t even shown they desire help. Stop and think for a second. Better yet, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. If you’re really not sure if that person needs your assistance, ask before risking making a fool of yourself.
She also has some good points for people to consider offline. You should go read the whole post.
In my past posts, the question “what is an ally” and “an ally of whom” came up. Zuska has found a great reference at the University of Michigan, for those who want to read more. In particular, they describe “becoming an ally” as a process, not an outcome:
Awareness: Explore how you are different from and similar to others. Gain this awareness through talking with others by attending workshops, and through self-examination.
Knowledge/Education: Begin to understand policies, laws and practices and how they affect others. Educate yourself.
Skills: This is an area that is difficult for many people. You must learn to take your awareness and knowledge and communicate it to others. You can acquire these skills by attending workshops, role-playing with friends or peers, and developing support connections.
Action: This is the most important and frightening step. Despite the fear, action is the only way to cause change in society as a whole.
There is some pretty interesting discussion at DrugMonkey by folks taking various stances, and (sometimes) talking over how best to be (or not) allies. Prompted by a simple description of the ScienceOnline session. Wowza.
So, on one hand, ScienceOnline is an un-conference (h/t Abel), so we as facilitators need to spend more time facilitating than talking. I’m down with that — I’m totally looking forward to hearing what others have to say.
But on the other hand, it would really be cool if we went to the conference with a few stories in our pocket. And one question that seems to be resonating with my co-facilitators is: when could you have used an ally but no one stepped forward to be one?
If you’re willing to share a story or two that answers this query, please do, either in the comments or on your own blog (and leave us a link here!). If you want to weigh in on the wiki, please do that too. (Thanks in particular to DNLee and acmegirl who have already – props to you!)