Being an Ally: Race, Racism and Social Justice

But actual allyship and advocacy rarely involve a sustained sense of positive emotion. They exist perpetually in the “emotional ambivalence associated with [critical thought and action].” Being an ally calls for embracing a different type of emotion – that of discomfort, which another scholar, Berlak wrote was not just unavoidable but also necessary. And by discomfort what I mean is feelings of confusion or fear — What if I look like or live my life like the people we are organizing against? I am socioeconomically privileged. I’m a man. I’m straight. I’m white. I’m Christian. I am a citizen of this country. I am someone who can exercise their civic rights, like the right to vote, easily. What if the people I consider my family, friends, or community look and live like the people we are organizing against? Is my presence as an ally or advocate wanted here? Do I belong in this space? Do I belong in this movement? What role is it possible for me to play?

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