For about two years I have been part of a private group on Facebook for political discussions. It was created as an attempt to not flood our Facebook friends with political posts during the Canadian and American election cycles. I enjoyed this group a lot and still like a lot of the regular contributors. Many were people I knew from school which made the discussions feel more open and authentic than what you would get on r/canadapolitcs.
But I just left that group, at least in part because the vast majority of people contributing to discussions were cis white men. The group had some women and some people of colour in the membership, but few of them were actively engaged in the discussions. I can’t speak to why this is as I’m not inside their heads but, if I had to guess, the nature of impersonal political discussions probably had something to do with it.
“The personal is political,” is practically cliche at this point, yet it still denotes the more substantial difference between the two worlds I have engaged in. On one side you can have “evidence-based” political discussion that are divorced from the personal lived experiences of the humans affected by the debated policies. On the other side, the lived experiences form the basis for the political discussions. I used to prefer the first kind of discussion because it was filled with facts and figures that could lead me to the “right” answer; however, as my politics have become more radical, I’ve seen how completely unrealistic those discussions are.
So, I’ve made a decision: speak for justice when I’m in the position where I am the only one to do it, otherwise pass the microphone. It’s honestly easier than I thought it was before, and it doesn’t have to involve bringing in marginalized folk to re-explain basic concepts. In true academic form, it can begin with citing your sources.
Quoting resisters and survivors, sharing their work, promoting their art: these are first steps on a path to allyship that will then include engaging quietly and supportively in spaces where you are not in control of the discourse. I’m no expert on the ethics of allyship, but it first requires that you prioritize living ethically as an ally.