My final thought during a prior #SAChat was as follows:
FT As a white professional, I need to make sure my allyship isn't about me, and if it ever becomes about me, that's a problem #sachat
— Mairead Kiernan (@Parade_withan_M) March 12, 2015
As I reread that thought in preparing this post, I keep thinking about a conversation we had with RAs during Safe Zone training in August. Our presenter, (@TimCherney), equated calling yourself an ally to giving yourself a nickname—it’s kind of weird to go around asking people to call you “Big Hoss,” right? His thoughts have resonated with me since then because I think it’s easy to call ourselves allies without doing anything to really be allies.
In this vein, I don’t think being an ally to my coworkers and students of color can or should be about me in the “look at what an ally I am!” sense. If I’m speaking up in a meeting, it needs to come from a place of using my privilege in a positive way. I didn’t ask for the privilege I was born into, but that doesn’t mean I can pretend it isn’t there. Part of our Safe Zone training was about the idea that you’re given the title “ally” by the group for which you’re allying.
This, in my opinion, is where ally-ship gets hairy at best. I might have the best intentions in the world if I’m trying to advocate for a given population on my campus, but if I haven’t engaged with them, how do I know what they need/want? I don’t think self-titled allies come from bad places in these conversations, but it’s so easy to label ourselves as such without much thought. We work in what is supposed to be a selfless field, but we all inherently have our own self-interests. Maybe you joined that Title IX committee because you’re truly interested in the topic at hand, or maybe it’s because you know you want to eventually work in that part of our field, or maybe it’s a combination of both. That’s okay! A healthy balance of selflessness and self-interest are appropriate, but maybe not when it comes to being an ally.
Looking at my final thought, I think I was a bit misguided. My ally-ship is always going to be about me in some respects. It’s about me because I want to use my identity to seek equality for those who don’t identify the same way. It’s about me because I have to check my privilege and what I think I know in order to truly advocate and ally for others. Where it shouldn’t be about me is in the “why” I do it. If I’m allying because I want the validation from my peers, that’s misguided. It’s easy to fall into a White Savior Complex mindset and make my ally-ship about me without serving others as it’s intended.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Adam Lambert on Clery Act/ Title IX