Six Rules for Allies

January 7, 2013 2 Comments

The following post has been reblogged from our friends at Community Change Inc.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we did! 

Community Change, Inc. is a Boston-based resource for people working for racial justice. Enjoy this resource from their series “Creating the Counter-Narrative, challenging the post-racial, colorblind public discourse on race and racism.” Enjoy this talk by Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance and of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas, Austin.

The speech/video is entitled Six Rules for Allies and provides us with challenging questions about how to work toward accountability, understanding and transformation. Dr. Jones explains that it can start by intentionally incorporating the following rules into your daily interactions. It’s well worth listening to in full. And, here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite.

  1. Liberal is not Sufficient 

“In fact, the liberal position is actually a walk backwards. The politically liberal position is the hegemonic force of the academy…Hegemony blinds us to what is hiding in plain site…Hegemony cannot be undone unless we move toward a radical, rather than a liberal position.”

  1. Be Loud and Crazy 

“…so Black folks won’t have to be! …If you are male… white… straight… Christian… you be the one [to speak up]… Speaking up does mean being willing to relinquish some piece of privilege in order to create justice. Allies step up. They do the work that has left others weary and depleted.”

  1. Patience is not a Political Strategy 

“Do not tell anyone in any oppressed group to be patient. Doing so is a sign of your own privilege and unconscious, though absolute, disregard for the person with whom you are speaking!”

  1. Recognize the new racism, the new sexism, the old homophobia 

“It is institutional and structural… The absence of people of color … powerful women… and queer people in any space cannot be accounted for by chance or accident. Allies know that racism, sexism and homophobia are real… Allies know how to spot oppression and support others as they reveal their wounds.”

  1. Welcome Opportunities to Examine Your Racism, Sexism, Homophobia 

“When called out about your racism, sexism or homophobia, don’t cower in embarrassment. Don’t cry. And don’t silently think “she’s crazy” and silently vow never to interact with her again. We are all plagued by sexism, racism and homophobia. Be grateful that someone took the time to expose yours… Exposure is a step toward freedom.”

  1. Support Alternative Possibilities

“Because allies believe the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house, allies consider the transgressive power in alternative academic strategies, a power that works to undo patriarchy, white supremacy, the insatiability of capitalism and heterosexism. Supporting alternative possibilities is the only way we can all dream ourselves into the world we want to live in.”

This list of rules requires that allies get to know one another. It also suggests that everyone in the room has an opportunity to be an ally. Those of us who are women, those of us who are queer, those of us who are people of color must also examine those times when our privileges insist that we abide by these very rules…

This means the rules are for everyone…


  • Maanav says:

    Hallelujah! Great post, Cynthia! Number 2 is especially interesting and requires some further conversation. I think it’s critical for folks of privilege to absorb some of the risk in speaking out but NEVER to speak for another group. Accountability is key. JLove Calderon & Tim Wise recently collaborated on a fantastic New Code of Ethics for Anti-Racist White Allies that may also be of interest:

  • Thanks for the enthusiastic response! If you listen to the full section re: #2, you’ll see that she doesn’t invite folks to speak for others, but, to step up. One example was for Christians to be the ones (on her campus) to make sure Muslim students have access to a safe and acceptable place for daily prayers. What’s implied, but not stated, is that you have to be in close relationship to know what to step up about, and that you shouldn’t presume to speak for folks.

    I like the New Code of Ethics. Thanks for the link.

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