Maybe It’s Time To Retire The Term White Ally
The Way We’ve Viewed The Roles and Responsibilities of White People Engaging To Antiracism Is Wrong
After reading an outstanding think-piece titled “There Is No Such Thing as a ‘White Ally’” by Catherine Pugh, Esq., It gave me a unique perspective, helping me to see the problems with using the term “white allies” in concert with White people supporting this latest Black Lives Matter (BLM) moment or fighting racism at all.
When I looked up the definition (s) of an ally, I discovered based on the definition it’s impossible for White people to be allies in the fight to end racism and white supremacy. Black people are not a state and we have no military power to defeat White supremacy in the way White people have used militias, state, local, and federal police and the military to stop Black revolts. White people run America and our military (just look at the group photos of the generals).
It’s not possible for White people to truly be allies because they are the only ones in the antiracism/Black lives mattering alliance with actual power.
We Black folks have no tangible resources in the fight to achieve liberty, justice, freedom, and equality that White people can benefit from except our Black bodies. That’s why racism begins and ends with White people doing the right thing.
When Black activists and advocates combine with White allies, they bring with them White power, White privilege, financial resources, and White voices to help upend systems that Black folks do not have.
One important question that troubled me was how is it that White folks are called allies for something they broke or have taken part in breaking? Allies aren’t supposed to be cooperating with us to end racism, they should just be working to end racism with or without our help because it’s the right thing to do. White people are the ancestors of people who created these systems of oppression and obstruction, and most White people help maintain White Supremacy and the national social order, even if it’s unintentional.
Considering White folks allies is like a murderer coming back to the scene of the crime or a vigil and helping the victim’s family look for the body. It’s like bank robbers coming back to the bank and helping the employees look for the money and the employees commending them for doing an outstanding job. This makes no sense. This is the fundamental reason I feel we need an alternative name for White people on the right side of humanity.
Wise people know Black people have no power in the scheme of things. They understand they need to step up and they know why.
Good Allies Are Just Good Ole White People
In the old days, my parents called allies “them good White folks.” Many people I know still dole out the sacred “good white folk” label to White people who have shown themselves worthy of the title. I would much rather use that term to describe White people who understand White Supremacy and America’s history of failing to protect Black lives over the term ally.
Most White people simply haven’t proven themselves as trustworthy to begin with to be considered an ally. Black folks desperately need to be able to trust White people, but they’ve have shown us more times than we can count they will quit or turn on us for the safety and security of Whiteness. They will return to perpetuating the very systems they claim they want to fight against. We will move 2-steps forward with White people, and 10-steps backward because they dislike discomfort. Discomfort is the Black man’s (woman’s) permanent home.
White people created America’s racist caste systems and exported it to the rest of the world to make anti-Blackness a thing globally. Inequality in America was created, tolerated, maintained, and is sustained by most White people. Most White people vote and lead to support and sustain White people. We loved everything about ourselves until White people taught Black and Brown people to hate everything about ourselves. Systemic injustices against Blacks are executed primarily by White people. Land and wage theft, segregation, cheating Blacks out of good jobs and fair wages, food deserts, extrajudicial killings, the policing of Black bodies and communities, fake wars, etc., and other crimes against Black humanity are carried out mostly by American White people.
Calling White people who support antiracism allies implies they are combining or uniting with Black resources for mutual benefit. This isn’t true. There is no benefit for White people. We shouldn’t view White people supporting BLM and antiracism as allies. We should view good White folks working to end racism as repairmen and women fixing the messes they and their ancestors have made over the centuries. White people are helping to right their wrongs while seeing our humanity.
They don’t need or require Black folks to do this. They aren’t motivated, so we motivate them.
Calling white people allies implies there is some “tangible,” mutual benefit in helping us end racism for them when the truth of the matter is there is no benefit for White people engaging in hardcore antiracism which is why there are so few repairmen and repairwomen coming to fix the messes White people have made of Black lives.
Fixing what you break doesn’t make White folks allies, it makes them responsible human beings, and good White people are responsible.
Unselfish White People Accept Responsibility And Act
White people have slowly realized that Black folks are second-class citizens for this generation and finally willing to do something about it. Slow meaning they know it, but they are slow to fix the problem because there aren’t enough good White folks who believe equality is important or that they are the obstacle. Good White folks are working on fixing themselves and beginning the grueling work of understanding what’s broken in America’s system of things — those broken things that make to make Black lives miserable.
Good White people cannot continue to see themselves as allies or friends of the movement. Good White people and antiracist White people need to see themselves as repairmen friends of the movement or supporters.
Please. Fix. This. Shithole. Country!
Why are we giving White people a pleasant name for doing what they should have been doing all along? Black people didn’t make our lives impossible to live, White people did that. We didn’t create the systems that bind, rob, deny, and oppress. White people did. We didn’t create race, racism, or race wars. White people did that too. So why are we calling White people allies, and why are we applauding them for helping us when they should lead the charge?
It’s their mess and they need to clean it up. White people should see themselves like Bounty paper towels. Allies need to be the cleaner picker-uppers of racism and inequality.
White People Can’t Be Allies Because There is No Mutual Benefit
When I think about allyship, I think about fighting a war against an enemy where we both gain something from fighting together. White people gain absolutely nothing tangible from helping Black and Brown people fight against and end racism (which is why there are so few allies). White people will have to accept they help us fight against racism and for equality because it’s wrong to prevent a group of people from achieving freedom, liberty, and justice because of the color of their skin, and there is no reason to maintain and sustain a system which allows them unearned privileges and limitless potential because of their race. Everything about antiracism benefits one group of people — non-White ones. Reducing racism would also reduce prejudice.
Good White people aren’t allies, they are righting wrongs and fixing what’s broken because it makes life better for us. They do it because they are good people with no expectation of being rewarded.
White Allies Possess All The Resources
Having resources at your disposal to even propose an alliance is a must. Resources are is a luxury Black Americans do not have. The only resources most Black people have are our Black bodies, and they are no match short or long-term for Uncle Sam and America’s secret police which act just like the Gestapo (which are also White people). Hell, the police are even beating up White folks now, so how are Black folks to contend with this.
The founding forefathers created America for White people. All the resources America has regardless of how they came to be we gathered to sustain and protect White people. Therefore, it is literally impossible for Black people to fight white supremacy alongside White people who possess everything from the police to their White social capital. Being called an ally is not appropriate, because only one party in the common-law relationship has the proper resources to fight against white power, white rule, and racial discrimination. And because there has never been a time in American history where White people surrendered and did the right thing to include allocating the resources we’ve been deprived of for centuries, it’s not possible for White people and Black people to form an alliance where good White people could be considered real allies.
The UK and America is a great example of what allyship looks like (even when the two allies are wrong). They each have the resources to fight militarily, and they have fought together when they believed they had the same interests. Black people do not have, nor have they ever had the resources necessary to end racial discrimination and racial violence, making allyship impossible. White people hold all the keys, so instead of them considering themselves allies with Black people, they should view themselves as allies with other White people.
White people can only ally with other White people to end white supremacy. All we Black folks can do at this stage of the war to end white supremacy is to be physical back-ups and supports. We have nothing else to offer.
White people maintain control over the justice system ensuring we’re executed, spied on, and labeled when we rebel. We collectively don’t have any money/wealth thanks to capitalism, which is rooted in racism and exploitation of Black bodies. Of all the groups in America, by far Black people are the poorest. It doesn’t mean other groups don’t have poor people, it just means when you combine all the racial groups in America, nearly every group that has come here after us besides Whites and Asians are wealthier than Blacks are and it’s not all because they work harder. They attain much of the wealth via white supremacy. Those who have engaged in it believe they should be the ones to dominate society.
For allyship, group economics matters, and Black folks simply don’t have a separate economy or the financial resources to fight America — because America has kept us poor.
When America hasn’t been busy creating laws and policies to keep us poor, it’s been using white supremacy to keep us out of everything else. We don’t have any resources. Black folks also don’t have a military, but white America has one and they will use it on us at the ready when we rebel (see BLM Washington, D.C. protests in June 2020). With allyship, resources matter and we Black folks are not coming to the table on equal footing or with the resources to back us.
Black people are working with principled White people.
It’s Time For A New Name and New Way of Thinking
White people viewing allyship as helping and supporting Black and Brown folks are viewing antiracism work the wrong way. White folks should not only be marching beside us or only donating money to antiracism causes. That’s quality stuff, but we need their services to deconstruct racist institutions, stop racists and extrajudicial police, stop racism in your own communities so that it doesn’t reach ours, and fix the messes White folks have made since they stole the joint from Native Americans. We didn’t break America and we didn’t create racism, so there is no need for White people to “help” us. Just right your wrongs, fix what you broke, create different systems, collect and re-teach racists, pay for all the things stolen from Black people, and repair all the stuff destroyed by White people, and then let’s move forward.
And yes, many White folks and White-passing people of color reading this will want to skirt responsibility noting they didn’t create America’s racist systems and institutions, every White/White passing person in America reaps the benefits of America not working as it should for Black people.
Calling White people allies for antiracism work and supporting Black Lives Matter movements is the equivalent of patting White folks on their backs and calling them heroes for busting out the windows of their own homes and their neighbors’ homes, then giving them brooms to help them clean up the shards of glass on the ground.
Call that allyship makes little sense and it just doesn’t feel right. White people are fixing the shit their ancestors broke, replacing the things their ancestors stole and relinquishing the unearned privileges they possess. Those extra portions of privileges belong to Black people. White folks have more than enough, and we have none. That’s a resource we could use, but we don’t have because White folks have an unfair share of them.
I know ally is the hottest label for White people right now, but it doesn’t sit well in my spirit anymore as I watch America crumble and I see the power white supremacy still has over all people, in particular, Black people.
I understand there is no benefit for White people to help Black folks. They do so because they believe we are all created equal and they understand white supremacy and oppression are wrong. Good White people understand they must physically and financially do all they can to destroy racism in America. Good White people understand we do not have the resources necessary to fight against white supremacy, so they put up their own money. They understand that fighting and ending racism is their job, not ours.
Our job is to keep racists from killing us every waking hour of every freaking day.
White people shouldn’t view themselves as allies, but rather a freedom fighters, repairmen, firemen, and housekeepers.
Good white people are helping us achieve equality and freedom that we have earned and that we deserve. Good White people are repairmen and women, fixing all the shit White people have broken to make Black lives miserable. Good White people are like firemen and women, working to extinguish hatred and racism so that we can have peace in the land. Good White people should see themselves as housekeepers, moral compasses, and security, making sure their home (America) is clean, safe, and inhabitable for all living in it — especially Black people.
White people have the power and resources to make to end racism and inequality, period full stop.
Black people do not.
After giving this much thought, I don’t want to call White people in the fight against racism, inequality, and injustice allies anymore. These White folks dedicated to antiracism are good White people doing the right things because they understand when everyone is well, everyone is well. They are fixing what they broke and being responsible, understanding it is impossible for Black people to help them meaningfully. They take charge and do the right thing.
That’s not called being an ally, that’s called being responsible.
Marley K in Quarantine 2020