The Rochester Racial Justice Toolkit, created by Nicole Nfonoyim-Hara, defines allyship as a process in which "a person of privilege works in solidarity and partnership with a marginalized group of people to help take down the systems that challenge that group's basic rights, equal access, and ability to thrive in our society." In other words, allyship involves a person from a non-marginalized group — an ally — who uses their privilege to advocate for a marginalized group.
Beyond just "allyship," you may have heard the terms "optical allyship" or "performative allyship" (or "performative activism"). Optical allyship is a term coined by Latham Thomas, founder of Mama Glow and author of Own Your Glow: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living and Crowning the Queen Within. Thomas defines optical allyship as one that "only serves at the surface level to platform the 'ally.'" "It makes a statement but doesn’t go beneath the surface and is not aimed at breaking away from the systems of power that oppress," she writes.
Similarly, performative allyship is defined as allyship that is carried out to increase one's social capital instead of true devotion to the cause. Though this can take many forms, a common instance of performative allyship is showing public support for the cause on social media, merely to signal one's own virtuous moral compass or otherwise, without taking the effort to enact real action offline or in private. Put simply, it's putting on the guise or display of activism and allyship without doing the actual work — a behavior that can do more harm than good to the cause at hand.
Progressive activism has had a major upswing in the last few years. The problem is that white liberals and progressives feel the need to speak for people of color, despite our ability to speak for ourselves. The time has come for the tables to turn. For white liberals to listen as people of color take the mic. Graciela Mohamedi has been an activist her whole life, influenced by her Puerto Rican mother and Algerian father she was taught at a young age to lead.
Kayley loves volunteering, and with more experience, has become interested in the white savior complex, which is demonstrated when white people travel to developing countries to “save” the people who live there. She will share what she thinks high schoolers can do to address the negative effects of volunteerism.
Over the last year, Priya Vulchi and Winona Guo traveled to all 50 US states, collecting personal stories about race and intersectionality. Now they're on a mission to equip every American with the tools to understand, navigate and improve a world structured by racial division. In a dynamic talk, Vulchi and Guo pair the personal stories they've collected with research and statistics to reveal two fundamental gaps in our racial literacy -- and how we can overcome them.
Allyship is an active process - as a Black queer asexual cis able-bodied woman in the lgbt+ community, here's my (intersectionality inclusive) take on how to be a better ally.
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