‘Allyship is about sacrifice; everything else is stamp collecting.’
Zeus Leonardo describes privilege as walking down the street and money is snuck into your pockets without you knowing. The ‘walking down the street’ analogy fails to acknowledge the source of that money. Zeus succinctly and quite rightly states that the money comes from the pockets of the oppressed. (Zeus Leonardo)
I fundamentally believe that if you are born with an unearned advantage or a novel way of thinking about it, the distinct lack of disadvantage. We have to use this privilege to enhance the life experiences of the oppressed. Remember, those advantages exist because of their disadvantage.
This process is often called allyship. What is allyship? You may have heard me say that ‘allyship is about sacrifice; everything else is stamp collecting.’This process is often called allyship. What is allyship? You may have heard me say that 'allyship is about sacrifice; everything else is stamp collecting.' Click To Tweet
The whole point of allyship is to redress the balance, to use that proverbial unearned money to:
- To amplify the voices of the silenced (oppressed).
- To use my systemic privilege to support those without privilege.
- To give up the systemic privileges which we did not earn and use them to do the above.
I have previously spoken at WomenEd and other feminist events as a #HeForShe, after a recent reflection, this is an act of entitled male privilege in its self. If my aims are listed above, does speaking on allyship ever achieve any of them?
What Does Talking About Allyship Achieve in a Diverse Space Achieve?
“But Pran as an advocate, you may encourage others to recognise and use their privilege.”
Every time I have entered that space, I have always met enthusiasm from numerous women but very few men. Rarely multitudes of men who would benefit from a message of solidarity or a call to allyship are present. Equally, men who would buy a ticket and make their way to a WomenED event are floating voters.
The more I think about it; my conclusions are tending towards the only thing I am doing is taking up space.
1. Taking that spot from a woman.
2. Pulling people (the audience) away from other workshops run by women.
3. The only person who benefits is me from the feeling that I am redressing the imbalance, where I am likely causing damage.
The only person who benefits here is me. Allyship is not for the privileged; it’s solely a for the oppressed. I will continue to use my privilege to advocate, lift and support those who by an accident of birth who are not as advantaged as I am.The only person who benefits here is me. Allyship is not for the privileged; it's solely a for the oppressed. Click To Tweet
What should I (as an Ally) be doing?
Earlier, I said allyship is about sacrifice, what does this mean? it’s using your voice and power to elevate. That means enquiring at an interview why you don’t see a diverse panel and walking away if that HT doesn’t value diversity. It means enquiring pre-booking if a panel includes women/women of colour and giving up your place (and pay) and using your networks to find a more representative authentic balance panel.That means enquiring at an interview why you don't see a diverse panel and walking away if that HT doesn't value diversity. Click To Tweet
As with all these things, I have no fixed position and I am still undecided. Do please let me know your thoughts and we can co-construct together.
Completely coincidently, WomenED have announced their 4th Unconference follow the tweet below for more information.
Booking open for 4th unconference to celebrate #IWD2020.
— WomenEd London (@WomenEdLondon) November 14, 2019