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robertogreco : allyship   4

White Allies, Let’s Be Honest About Decolonization by Kyle Powys Whyte — YES! Magazine
"Indigenous environmental movements in North America are among the oldest and most provocative—from the Dish With One Spoon Treaty between Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples to the Mni Wiconi (“Water Is Life”) movement of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. As a Potawatomi environmental justice advocate, I often get asked by other environmentalists in the U.S. to share my views on what they can do to be good allies to Indigenous peoples. Those who ask usually identify themselves as being non-Indigenous, white, and privileged. They are U.S. settlers: people who have privileges that arise from the historic and ongoing oppression of Indigenous peoples. 

Whether one participates in settler colonialism is not entirely a matter of when or how one’s ancestors came to the U.S. Having settler privilege means that some combination of one’s economic security, U.S. citizenship, sense of relationship to the land, mental and physical health, cultural integrity, family values, career aspirations, and spiritual lives are not possible—literally!—without the territorial dispossession of Indigenous peoples. 

How then can settler allies move beyond being sympathetic beneficiaries of colonialism? What approach is legitimately decolonizing?

The resilience of settler privilege is a barrier. Gestures toward allyship can quickly recolonize Indigenous peoples. Some people have tried to create bonds of allyship by believing that Indigenous wisdom and spirituality are so profound that Indigenous people have always lived in ecological harmony. This is the romantic approach. Other allies have tried to create solidarity through claiming that Indigenous and non-Indigenous environmentalists should not distinguish their efforts. In this view, environmental issues threaten us all, and we should converge around common problems that affect all humanity, instead of wasting dwindling time on environmental racism. This is the same-boat approach. 

The romantic approach assumes that lifting up Indigenous wisdom and spirituality constitutes action. But this approach does not necessarily confront ongoing territorial dispossession and risks to health, economic vitality, lives, psychological well-being, and cultural integrity that Indigenous people experience. This is why scholars Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang say decolonization is not a metaphor. Yet, the empathetic responsibility to support others’ self-determination and well-being is a major lesson in many Indigenous environmental traditions. Subscribers to the romantic view are unprepared to respond to criticisms of supposed Indigenous hypocrisies, like the alleged contradiction of tribally sanctioned coal industries. Responding to these critiques requires an understanding of colonialism, yet some romantics are unwilling to take the time to learn how the U.S. forcefully re-engineered tribal governments to facilitate extractive industries. This understanding is key if one’s goal is to undermine the levers of power that undermine Indigenous self-determination and well-being today.  

The same-boat approach also misses the colonial context. The conservation movement has been as damaging to Indigenous peoples as extractive industries. National parks, ecological restoration projects, conservation zones, and even the uses of certain terms—especially “wilderness”—are associated with forced displacement of entire communities, erasure of Indigenous histories in education and public memory, economic marginalization, and violations of cultural and political rights. Though certain sectors of conservation have improved greatly, newer movements, such as the international UN-REDD+ Programme, still repeat harms of the past. Almost every environmental achievement in the U.S.—such as the Clean Air or Clean Water acts—has required Indigenous peoples to work hard to reform these laws to gain fair access to the protections. 

A decolonizing approach to allyship must challenge the resilience of settler privilege, which involves directly facing the very different ecological realities we all dwell in. Sometimes I see settler environmental movements as seeking to avoid some dystopian environmental future or planetary apocalypse. These visions are replete with species extinctions, irreversible loss of ecosystems, and severe rationing. They can include abusive corporations and governments that engage in violent brainwashing, quarantining, and territorial dispossession of people who stand in their way. 

Yet for many Indigenous peoples in North America, we are already living in what our ancestors would have understood as dystopian or post-apocalyptic times. In a cataclysmically short period, the capitalist–colonialist partnership has destroyed our relationships with thousands of species and ecosystems.

Zoe Todd and Heather Davis, authors of “On the Importance of a Date, or Decolonizing the Anthropocene,” characterize the ecological footprint of colonialism as seismic. The ongoing U.S. colonial legacy includes forcing Indigenous peoples into grid-like reservations that empower corporations and private individuals to degrade our territories; fostering patriarchy and conditions for sexual violence in Indigenous communities; brainwashing Indigenous children through boarding schools; and brainwashing everyone else through erasing Indigenous histories and experiences across U.S. culture, education, and memory. 

So Indigenous people awaken each day to science fiction scenarios not unlike the setup in films such as The Matrix. Yet in Indigenous science fiction films, such as Wakening and The 6th World, the protagonists are diverse humans and nonhumans who present unique solutions to daunting environmental problems. They are not portrayed as romantic stereotypes or symbols of a common humanity. They do not presuppose naive notions of Indigenous spirituality. They see environmental protection as possible only if we resist the capitalist–colonialist “matrix” of oppression and build allyship across different human and nonhuman groups. These films differ greatly from, say, Avatar, where the protagonist is a white male who passes as Indigenous and uses romantic Indigenous wisdom to save everyone. Indigenous people learn to ignore this difference, embracing a common foe together.  

Decolonizing allyship requires allies to be critical about their environmental realities—and about the purpose of their environmentalism. To do this, allies must realize they are living in the environmental fantasies of their settler ancestors. Settler ancestors wanted today’s world. They would have relished the possibility that some of their descendants could freely commit extractive violence on Indigenous lands and then feel, with no doubts, that they are ethical people. Remember how proponents of the Dakota Access pipeline sanctimoniously touted the project’s safety and that it never crossed tribal lands? On the flip side, when more sympathetic (environmentalist) settler descendants lament the loss of Indigenous wisdom without acting for Indigenous territorial empowerment; buy into the dreams and hopes of settler heroism and redemption in movies like Avatar; or overburden Indigenous people with requests for knowledge and emotional labor yet offer no reciprocal empowerment or healing—then they are fulfilling the fantasies of their settler ancestors.  

One can’t claim to be an ally if one’s agenda is to prevent his or her own future dystopias through actions that also preserve today’s Indigenous dystopias. Yet how many environmentalists do just this? I do not see much differentiating those who fight to protect the colonial fantasy of wilderness from those who claim the Dakota Access pipeline does not cross Indigenous lands. Indigenous environmental movements work to reject the ancestral dystopias and colonial fantasies of the present. This is why so many of our environmental movements are about stopping sexual and state violence against Indigenous people, reclaiming ethical self-determination across diverse urban and rural ecosystems, empowering gender justice and gender fluidity, transforming lawmaking to be consensual, healing intergenerational traumas, and calling out all practices that erase Indigenous histories, cultures, and experiences.

Perhaps these goals and values are among the greatest gifts of Indigenous spirituality and wisdom. I want to experience the solidarity of allied actions that refuse fantastical narratives of commonality and hope. Determining what exactly needs to be done will involve the kind of creativity that Indigenous peoples have used to survive some of the most oppressive forms of capitalist, industrial, and colonial domination. But above all, it will require that allies take responsibility and confront the assumptions behind their actions and aspirations."
decolonization  capitalism  indigenous  indigeneity  2018  kylepowyswhyte  resilience  self-determination  colonialism  dystopia  settlercolonialism  privilege  allyship  solidarity  environment  environmentalism  zoetodd  heatherdavis  anthropocene  scifi  sciencefiction 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Undercommoning – Revolution within, against, and beyond the University
"No nostalgia for the past | No nostalgia for the future

Undercommoning is building a North American network of radical organizers within, against, and beyond the (neo)liberal, (neo)colonial university.

We host critical discussions and engagements to build solidarity around radical and marginalized forms of knowledge and undercommons-centred power. We aspire to create heterogenous networks that will link disparate geographic locations while also facilitating meaningful relationships around local, place-based organizing.

Undercommoning is an evolving network of radical organizers within, against, and beyond the neoliberal, (neo)colonial university in North America. We seek to experiment with and broadcast new ways of working together, new forms of study, and new pathways to solidarity."



"What is the Undercommoning Project?

We participate in and affirm those activist projects that oppose and seek alternatives to gentrification, commercialization, rising student debt and tuition, low wages for university staff and contract labor, and the academy’s attempts to hold a monopoly on the production of knowledge.

We host occasional critical online discussions called “encounters,” broadcast and publish interviews with activists, and otherwise solicit and disseminate texts and projects that build solidarity around radical and marginalized forms of knowledge and to sustain and amplify the undercommons: those networks of struggle, study and creativity that exist within, outside and in spite of the university.

We aim to create platforms to connect those struggling in the shadows of the university: not only workers and students within the institution, but those for free education, autonomous learning, and collective study outside of the university’s walls. The Undercommoning project provides a framework to link diverse local struggles so that they can gain strength and insight from one another’s efforts and visions.

What does Undercommoning mean?
We discuss the project and its goals in more detail in this article: http://undercommoning.org/undercommoning-within-against-and-beyond/

Who we are
The Undercommoning Project is an alliance of outcasts and fugitive knowledge workers struggling in the margins and on the edges of the universities that wrought us.

As a network, we aim to connect to one another both continentally and locally, appropriating where we can the new technologies of digital communication and meeting in person when possible.

The network is maintained by a rotating “Collective” of 10-15 people, most of whom are precarious academic or university workers, some of whom have exited the university. We work semi-anonymously to avoid the recuperative and repressive forces of academic capitalism.

We reject the artificial hierarchies of knowledge and prestige that are the weapons of the university. As such, we are open to anyone onto whom the university casts its shadow, from custodial workers to dropouts, from adjunct faculty to administrative support staff, from students to food servers, from trade unionists to activists building alternative institutions.

We work in the tradition of militant inquiry: bottom-up collective learning dedicated to building community capacities for radical social change. Our project seeks to amplify everyday forms of resistance. The online forum is a place to share radical critiques and strategies for overturning a system where education is a transaction. Further, we recognize the education many of us have received owes an unpayable debt to oppression in the forms of colonialism, slavery, and dispossession of indigenous communities.

What we do?

While we are just getting off the ground now, as a collective, we aim to……

• Host regular online meet-ups for organizers and thinkers to learn about one another’s struggles and build solidarity and capacity.
• Publish interviews, transcripts, essays, news and examples from struggles around the world
• Organize local events where organizers can gather and make common cause.
• Act as a network for organizers and activists within, against, and beyond the university.
• Reveal and challenge the North American university as a site working at the junction of settler-colonialism, neoliberal capitalism, hetero-patriarchy, white supremacy and other systems of domination and exploitation. We also diagnose the university as a key institution of power that works in concert with police, prisons, the financial system, the ‘lower’ education system, punitive state bureaucracies, culture industries and other means of oppression.
• Catalyze intersectional solidarity between and beyond laborers of the university, including: precarious academic workers; clerical, technical, food service, maintenance, and other support workers; subcontracted workers; exploited student laborers; international learners’ and those ejected from or refused by the university.
• Valorize the labor of the “undercommons”, promoting the autonomy of these forms of bottom-up refusal, collaboration, solidarity and mass intellectuality that the university at once subjugates and requires for its survival.
How can I find out more?

Our hallmarks
• Anti-colonial: towards the reclamation and revalourization of Indigenous, non-white and proletarian forms of learning/study/community-building/praxis.
• Anti-racist: Towards a politics of liberation, against the afterlives of slavery and ongoing forms of racial capitalism which universities sustain and reproduce
• Anticapitalist: against the university as an Edu-factory and against schools as reproducers of class relations
• No nostalgia: for the public education or Keynesian university-that-never-was
• Feminist: for dismantling patriarchy and hetero-and-cis-sexism
• Trans-&-Queer-Liberationist: Towards a queer rebellion, against homonormative forms of capture and the valo(u)rization of new capitalist demographics
• Autonomist: grassroots self-organization, extraparliamentary, non-sectarian
• Accomplices: beyond allyship, strategizing with, not for, and ready to betray academic institutions
• Undercommoning: radical networks, resource redirection, subversion, non-participation
• Experimentation/exodus: radical creativity and courage
• Solidarity: learning/study in league with communities, struggles, etc.
• Strategic optimism: not just a pity party or a social club"
highered  highereducation  undercommons  stefanohaney  fredmoten  academia  gentrification  learning  neoliberalism  capitalism  colonialism  decolonization  praxis  feminism  networks  allyship  solidarity  optimism  strategicoptimism  education  anicapitalism  antiracism  indigenous  indigeneity  colleges  universities 
december 2017 by robertogreco
How to Tell the Difference Between Real Solidarity and 'Ally Theater' -
"This woman’s need to take up space in some way, any way, her need to perform allyship, publicly, so everyone can see how “good” she is, how different she is, is so overwhelming that, seeing my tweets, she can’t bring herself to just shut up. It should be obvious that the very last person I want to hear from in that moment is a random ass white woman. I just tweeted about the significant pain and harm white women have caused me and this woman’s response is “thanks for saying that.”

Girl, if you don’t GTFOH.

And she’s certainly not alone. A LOT of people do this. A LOT of people perform “allyship” in ways that are actually really harmful. This, folks, is ally theater. And there is a big difference between it and real solidarity. Lots of differences, really. Here are a few that I experience regularly:

1. Real solidarity doesn’t require an audience to witness what a good “ally” you are

Lots of so-called “allies” are in it for the cookies and it shows. Boy oh boy, does it show. Even if they think it doesn’t show, it shows. Cookie-seeking “allies” require an audience for every performance, from bit part to starring role. Fighting oppression, for these folks, isn’t worth it unless everybody can see them doing it.

On social media, their “allyship” often looks like sharing or retweeting other people’s racist or misogynist or transphobic comments and attaching their own outraged pushback, as if to say, “OMG look everybody! This person is so oppressive! Watch me check them! Look! Over here! See what I’m doing? Loooook!”

It never occurs to the cookie-seeker in question that 9 times out of 10, no one was ever going to see that random racist/misogynist/transphobic comment made by an egg account with 12 followers in the first place, if not for them RTing it. But, hey. Needlessly exposing oppressed people to more violence is worth it if everyone gets to see what a great “ally” you are, right?

Consider the following scenario:

Someone tweets something offensive at a queer person of color. Does solidarity look like:

a. retweeting the offensive comment with a “OMG this is so messed up!” thrown in

b. responding to the vile comment, making sure to include the queer person of color it was directed at in the response, so they can see you being an “ally” and sticking up for them

c. responding only to the commenter, without RTing and without including the queer person of color in the response at all

Anything other than c is ally theater.

Real solidarity doesn’t require an audience or a pat on the back. If a troll gets checked and absolutely no one is around to hear it (or hear about it later), it still makes a sound. I promise.

Also, it’s very possible that the person at whom the offensive tweet was directed doesn’t want to engage the troll. You forcing them into an exchange is violence, not solidarity.

Bring Mia McKenzie to your college or community event!

2. Ally theater features lots of poorly-disguised cries of “not all _______” and “I’m not like other ______”

Overt cries of “not all white people”, “not all men”, etc. have become so common that they’re a joke among socially-conscious social media types. Some privileged person jumps into a conversation about privilege with “not all ______” and we laugh or roll our eyes or mock them or all three at once. “Not all” is oftentimes just straight-up derailment, an attempt to erase the realities of systemic oppression. Other times, it’s the person’s way of saying “not me” or “I’m not like other (insert oppressive group)”.

When it’s used simply to derail, it’s standard trolling. But when it’s used to say “not me!” we’re well on our way to ally theater.

I say “well on our way” because this is where it gets tricky. Because, see, “not all ______” has become such a loathed phrase, such an instant eyeroll, that experienced allyship performers know better than to say it. Saying it marks them as a troll and jeopardizes their standing as an Ally with a capital A and a gift certificate to Famous Amos Cookies.

The fact that they can’t say “not me!” doesn’t make the need to express “not me!” go away. The need is there, tugging at their ego like a high school handjob. Afterall, how will people know that they are an Ally with a capital A and a gift certificate to Famous Amos Cookies if they don’t make it clear they are NOT LIKE OTHER WHITE/STRAIGHT/CIS/ETC. PEOPLE??? They must find other ways to express the same “I’m not like other ________” sentiments without using the dreaded “not all”.

And now we arrive, right on time, at ally theater.

Consider this scenario:

A black woman tweets “Ugh this white woman just reached out and touched my hair without my consent! Why are white people so gross and entitled??” Does solidarity look like:

a. replying with “wow what is wrong with some white folks? I’m white and I would never think of doing that!”

b. replying with “many of us white people have been raised to feel entitled rather than to respect PoC”

c. replying with “sorry that happened”

d. not replying at all

Anything other than d (or sometimes c if you actually know the person) is ally theater.

Real solidarity isn’t about telling marginalized people, either directly or indirectly, that you’re not like the others or that you, as someone who is not like the others, are equipped to comment on how bad the others are.

Because 1) the only real way to not be like the others is to just not be like the others and 2) no matter someone’s personal views on any ‘ism’ or how great of an “ally” job they think they’re doing, they still benefit from being in a privileged group. The system is set up to benefit them and they don’t get to opt out because they think they’re down. In other words: they are like the others. That’s how privilege and supremacy work.

3. Real solidarity isn’t worn like a nametag

What is thing folks do where they put “ally” in their Twitter bio??? “Teacher, gardener, white ally. #BlackLivesMatter.”

LOL, no. Leave.

I’ve said this before, but “ally” isn’t a label we give ourselves.

Earlier this year, I was speaking at a university and a student of color shared with me her frustration with a white student who, whenever she was approached about some oppressive thing she did or said, got in her white girl feels and cried about how the PoC student was erasing her identity as an ally.

I was like:

[GIF]

“Ally” is an IDENTITY now??? Ugh. *dives off cliff*

Listen. Solidarity is action. That’s it. What we DO in solidarity is all that counts. How people with privilege listen to what marginalized groups ask of them and do that is all that counts.

Claiming “ally” as an identity and then using it to shield oneself from the criticism of those one says they’re an “ally” to is the opposite of solidarity.

Someone putting “ally” in their bio is a really easy way to let me know that they are, in fact, a cookie-seeker and, #sorrynotsorry, but I don’t bake.

So, there you go. Three important differences between real solidarity and ally theater that we can use to sort out the riff raff. Because, y’all: the riff raff desperately needs sorting out.

And if you’re a white and/or straight and/or cis and/or abled, etc. person trying to be in solidarity with oppressed people: before you jump up to perform “allyship” ask yourself, “is what I’m about to say or do in any way beneficial to the person I’m about to say or do it to? If so, how?”

If you can’t come up with a good answer, it’s likely just ally theater. Please back away from the stage."
miamckenzie  2016  allies  allyship  race  racism  solidarity  identity  activism  allytheater  performance 
july 2016 by robertogreco
On Making Black Lives Matter: The Way Forward from Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Alva Braziel
"Last week, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and St. Paul, Minnesota. Five police officers were killed in Dallas, Texas and seven others were injured. And then, on Saturday, Alva Braziel was shot and killed by police in Houston, Texas. To bear witness to so much senseless violence, so much senseless death, is unbearable.

On social media, people are grieving and hurting and raging. On the streets of cities across America, people are protesting. They're saying, "Enough." In Baton Rouge, the police force has become a small army, replete with SWAT teams and officers in full riot gear. There is a new iconic image reflecting these turbulent times: Ieshia Evans, a young black woman in a flowing summer dress facing a militant line of Baton Rouge police officers.

Against the backdrop of a contentious election cycle, it is easy to feel like the world is coming apart, like the world is coming to an end. It is easy to feel unsafe, helpless, hopeless. I am feeling all of these things while also trying to resist such defeat. I am trying to recognize that the world is not coming to an end, the world is changing.

I was talking to my mom on Friday, when things seemed especially hopeless. She asked, "Why should I have to wake up every day and address God about the safety of my life?" She told me about how she and my dad had talked to my brothers, my nephew, reminding them, reminding all of us to be careful when we're out in the world. She told my nephew to keep his wallet out, in the center console, so it is visible and easily reached if he's pulled over by the police. As we spoke, I thought about my own obsessive ritual when I get in my car—making sure I have my license, registration, current proof of insurance—because if pulled over for Driving While Black, I cannot afford any missteps. They might cost me my life.

This is no way to live, this is not freedom, always holding your breath, always feeling like a target, always worrying about the men and women you love, hoping they won't run into a police officer who cannot control his fear.

As is often the case during times of social upheaval, most of us are wondering how we can productively contribute to positive change when change feels impossible. There are no easy answers. For white people, being an ally to the black community is often framed as a way forward. Allyship is a nice idea, certainly. It's a way for people to say and demonstrate that they care and (want to) help even if they cannot fully understand the lived experiences of marginalized people.

But in the wake of last week's violence and unrest, I've seen what often happens during difficult times—people who consider themselves allies, well-meaning people, to be clear, ask what they can do to help. They ask for guidance, as if black people, in this instance, have the solution to the ongoing problem of systemic racism, as if we have access to a secret trove of wisdom for overcoming oppression.

I've seen allies share their laments in a way that focuses on their emotional needs. I've seen them demanding the emotional labor of people who have nothing left to give.

The problem with allyship is that good intentions are not enough. Allyship offers a safe haven from harsh realities and the dirty work of creating change. It offers a comfortable distance that can be terribly unproductive.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with Ta-Nehisi Coates in 2015, upon the release of his book Between the World and Me. When I asked him about allies, he said, "I think one has to even abandon the phrase 'ally' and understand that you are not helping someone in a particular struggle; the fight is yours." I mulled his words over for weeks because they were so pointed and powerful. Those words began to inform the ways in which I try to support other marginalized people—making their fights my own because that's the only way forward.

Black people do not need allies. We need people to stand up and take on the problems borne of oppression as their own, without remove or distance. We need people to do this even if they cannot fully understand what it's like to be oppressed for their race or ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, class, religion, or other marker of identity. We need people to use common sense to figure out how to participate in social justice.

Don't tell us about your racist uncle or grandfather or sister or cousin. Don't try to unburden yourself of guilt that isn't yours to carry. Actively listen when marginalized people tell you about their oppression—don't offer your pity (which only helps you) and don't apologize. Listen and do your best to understand what it feels like to live with oppression as a constant. Speak up when you hear people making racist jokes. Speak up when you see injustice in action. Inform yourself about your local law enforcement and how they treat people of color. Vote. Take a stand instead of waiting for absolution from people of color. We don't have that kind of time. We're fighting for our lives."
roxanegy  2016  race  racism  allies  allyship  blacklivesmatter  ta-nehisicoates  oppression 
july 2016 by robertogreco

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