This month has brought to the forefront a concept that people have been blind to for far too long. This concept is the profound, but very real, ally industrial complex. This complex is materialized by the people who place themselves at the top of the hierarchy of social oppression, granting themselves a royal spot they actually have no right to. They associate themselves with a struggle that they externally support, all the while donning themselves as a “social savior” constructed directly in opposition to the social pariah.
This separation of the self from the cause to which one is supporting provides a foundation for the problematic actions many of these organizations and individuals commit. This association with, but separation from, the oppression has recently materialized into a “good job” badge for those who commit these actions. These organizations and individuals are able to then market themselves as being “not racist,” “not sexist,” “not discriminatory”, etc. The sheer fact that being socially aware and not invalidating the identities of others has become marketable and oppression has become a commodity is a testament to the reality that allyship has now become a facade for self-evaluation.
Please visit the following link to read a much more detailed list of the materialization of the ally industrial complex.
For many who do consider themselves allies, this may be very confusing, and leave many with the question of “how do I be a good ally?” or “how do I transition from an ally to an accomplice?”
It takes three simple steps:
Listen: Listening is the first step of being an ally/accomplice (I will be conflating the two because I am not qualified enough to distinguish the re-branding). To listen means to not interject “I am here for you,” “I support you,” or “you can tell me anything.” To listen is to outwardly expose yourself to the struggle you wish to change. To listen is to appropriately inquire further about the oppression you would like to stop. To listen is to attend events, consult professors, be an audience to topical presenters, etc.
Learn: To learn is to not only internalize all that one has listened to, but to go beyond that and equip oneself with the theory, history and reality-based scope appropriate to functionally serve as an ally/accomplice. This means sifting through theoretical readings concerning the struggle, researching the history of how it developed, finding reliable sources of study that can empirically or not empirically prove that these struggles are valid. Above all else, one must learn not to situate the self with this struggle, and conversely learn that one cannot upwardly value themselves for being an ally/accomplice.
Advocate: The last step is to advocate. Advocating is the hardest part because it presents a challenge on the part of the ally/accomplice. It forces a responsibility on the ally/advocate. It challenges the ally/accomplice to think critically about all that they are exposed to, movies, TV shows, lectures, friendly conversations. This critical thought is necessary for accurately acknowledging, identifying and addressing the struggle/oppression one wants to challenge. If one wishes to identify themselves as an ally/accomplice, it places upon them a responsibility to use their agency to the fullest extent to present, defend and act upon their cause (despite any undesirable consequence or conditions, hence the criminalized connotation of accomplice). And lastly, it contests the ally/accomplice themselves, forcing them to call themselves out on their privilege and agency, and bans them from exercising it in a way that could malevolently affect others.