Allyship by Association – A Problematic Pass

Written by on 12/02/2021

You may have seen on our instagram page @theblackcardtalks we posted the bias scale showcasing the roadmap to allyship, if you haven’t seen it, take a look. This was because last we were discussing how easy it is to assume because of one’s proximity to a peoples we understand their experience. 

The reality of it is that we don’t, because we do not have the lived experience of others. Often when we feel like we have been in and around the shoes of other peoples, through friends, community groups, school and family we feel we understand because we have moved from sympathy to empathy. Whilst this is well intentioned it can at times be problematic and here is why. 

The reality of difference is that in order to be considered difference there must be a “normal” for things to fall outside of this. What this inevitably means is that some people will be considered different all the time. Others that empathise with the wrong but not the experience have the privilege of engaging in that difference when it suits them best. Now I can imagine some are reading this and thinking “i can’t do anything right” “we can’t do or say anything anymore”. Honestly, I can understand how it can feel this way but this is not what we are saying. 

The solution to not simply being an ally by association, is to not only empathise / fight for and show up for your Black friends when you are around them. You need to do it all the time. When Uncle Bob says X around the dinner table and Aunt Sue refers to your Black friend as “alright for a Black person”. Additionally, there is a requirement to be humble. No one is above bias. That means that even with your Black friends and community groups you can still exhibit traits of supremacy that you need to do away with. 

We have said this before, it is not only the Klan members who are out there exhibiting traits of White Supremacy. It is anyone that believes the White Western world to be the norm and other facets of global society to be different and lesser than. Therefore if elements of someone’s culture, your mate, seem “too traditional” and “backwards” to you, that is your view not theirs and your view is not necessarily right it is just different. 

What we mean to say by all of this is that no one is above bias, so we need to continuously check ourselves and the privileges that tell us our normal should be other peoples. That’s how you actively stop being an Ally by Association. By doing and reflecting constantly. 

Hope this clears that up. Catch you next week and remember #theblackcardtalks to get involved in the conversation. 


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