“Good Guys” and “Good Feminists” – But Where Are the Real Allies?

By Jessica Sutton.

We recently received a comment on our article about Black women and police brutality, saying that “systemic racism is a myth”.

Over time, the She’s Right team has become somewhat numbed to the racist and misogynist comments we receive on our material, but this honestly stumped me. There were two possibilities for the mindset of the white man who commented this. One, he could be the most unobservant man to have ever graced this earth, who genuinely believes that people of colour are not disadvantaged in our society. Or two, far more likely, he is practising that particular kind of racism which is predicated entirely on an absolute denial of empirical facts.

This man is a racist. The men who comment on our articles with insults, who jeer at indigenous victims of feminicide, are both racists and misogynists. But I would guess that none of these men would consider themselves to be bigoted. They consider themselves “good guys”. Yet, they have a singular and disturbing world view that all forms of oppression that don’t affect straight, white, cisgender men, are manufactured. If anything, they consider that they are the oppressed ones, for having to listen to the whining of  women, people of colour, transgender people, gender non-conforming people, disabled people, poor people, about how unfair everything is. They shift attention to the “sexist family court” or the “unfairness of affirmative action” to try and paint themselves as the under-privileged ones, fully knowing that the system is broken and broken in a way that suits them perfectly.

White women are not immune from racism and misogyny. White feminists who try to exclude race from feminist discussions are committing an act of hatred. The interplay between race and gender is intrinsic to feminism. The interplay between LGBTQIA+ rights and gender is intrinsic to feminism. Intersectionality is not something ‘trendy’ to sprinkle into your white feminism to make it more palatable to others. Intersectionality is not something you parade on your social media for the next few weeks until “the fuss dies down” and you have gained your good feminist points. Feminism stands for equality of all, and if you exclude the many and layered inequalities that impact women of colour, LGBTQIA+ people, disabled women, you are ripping out the heart of feminism and crafting it to benefit only you. 

I have seen too much of this recently from white men and women. I have seen too much surface level allyship for likes and shares, without real commitment to self-interrogation and change. I question the robustness of my own allyship, and I am working to improve, and we all need to do so. All of us who have some measure of privilege in this world need to repeat the following to ourselves, like a mantra, when we feel the white fragility rising in us, or the misogynist anger pushing us to lash out, or the many other ugly forms of hatred we hold within us.

You may not consider yourself a racist, but as a white person you have been raised in and benefit from a system based on racism.

You may not consider yourself a misogynist, but as a cisgender man you have been raised in and benefit from a system based on misogyny.

You may not consider yourself a homophobe or a transphobe, but as a straight, cisgender person, you have been raised in and benefit from a system based on homophobia and transphobia.

You may not consider yourself ableist, but as a person who is not living with a disability you have been raised in and benefit from a system based on ableism.

Learn this. Acknowledge it. Work to be better.
Denying the oppression of others to try and absolve yourself of guilt is an act of hatred.

Listening to the voices of Black women is particularly important at this time, so rather than writing any more myself, I would like to share resources for allies, mostly written by women of colour, as well as some options for donation at this time.

Educate (non-exhaustive!):

Layla F Saad “Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor”.

Brea Baker “The Antiracist Reading List”
https://www.elle.com/culture/books/g32687973/black-history-books-reading-list/

Ibram X Kendi “How to Be an Antiracist”.

Joshunda Sanders “Black Women, Let Your Anger Out”
http://inthesetimes.com/article/21775/black-women-anger-chronic-stress-rage-repression-discrimination-racism?fbclid=IwAR3Khpcs0BxADfbSSl9MVPPX6SJXVLaGz8ILkFwEIiEEblPofehwrSEY-MY

Brittney Cooper “Why Are Black Women and Girls Still an Afterthought in Our Outrage Over Police Violence?”
https://time.com/5847970/police-brutality-black-women-girls/

Josephine Franks “Black lives Matter: How You Can Support the Movement from New Zealand” https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/121742645/black-lives-matter-how-you-can-support-the-movement-from-new-zealand

Stephanie Long “Black People Need Stronger White Allies – Here’s How You Can Be One”
https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2020/05/9841649/allyship-ahmaud-arbery-george-floyd

Stand with Breonna Taylor
https://www.standwithbre.com/

Donate (money or time – non-exhaustive!):

Watch Zoe Amira’s BLM donation video:
https://www.womenshealthmag.com/life/a32782210/zoe-amira-youtube-video-black-lives-matter-donations/

Donate to the Loveland Foundation to help support Black women and girls in the United States:
https://thelovelandfoundation.org/

Sign the petition for Breonna Taylor’s killers to be charged:
http://chng.it/XHtjNhMyG5

Donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund:
https://minnesotafreedomfund.org/

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

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