Journals

Why I Do Not Call Myself An Ally

As issues such as systematic police violence against people of color, increasing media presence putting a spotlight on trans rights, growing discussions about violence against sex workers, and many other issues involving marginalized groups arise, many people, myself included, want to know “what can i do to help?” This is where ally culture comes in. For those unfamiliar with the term, an ally is a person who works to support a oppressed group that they themselves are not a part of. Any cursory web search will provide tons of articles, blog posts, videos etc on how to be a good ally, how to not be a good ally, and so on. I encourage you to read/watch them.

But here’s the thing, you’ve probably at some point heard the oft-quoted, meme-fied, refrigerator-magnetized phrase “How people treat you is their karma, how you react is yours.” Well the reverse is also true. I am responsible for my behavior but I am not in control of how others react to it. And what that means is this: it’s not up to me whether my actions are helpful to another person or not. I am empty of being a helpful person. As another oft-quoted phrase states “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” So when my well-intentioned act causes more harm than good, and my actions are criticized, i can either cling to my self-cherishing idea of myself as a “helper” and become defensive and angry, or i can listen, learn, and try to do better next time. And that’s the best I can hope for.

I do not call myself an ally because I’m not the one who gets to decide whether my actions towards a group of people is helpful, they are.

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Comments

agreed and thanks!

agreed and thanks!

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Same with "good husband," "good friend," "good person." It's a cop-out.

As I've learned to stay open, I've continually refined my own standards and learned from my continuous screw-ups. Cringing at past ignorance is a good sign.

Calling myself a "good friend" today lays claim to a distinction that's not mine to bestow on myself. It also saves me the trouble of becoming a better friend tomorrow.

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