You are the owner of this article.

Being an 'Ally' doesn't always mean you're tolerant

  • 1
  • 3 min to read
BHM Photo: White Allyship, Akuah Frempong

Akuah Frempong in the International and Graduate Student Affairs Building, Feb. 1, 2018.

“Hi Akuah, I just wanted to say that while I respect your right to voice a political opinion, I believe calling Trump a white supremacist is fear mongering and more importantly, bigotry. This is below adult discourse.” — Unsolicited White Ally

Meet White Ally, based solely on this individual’s Facebook profile. I concluded that this individual could best be described as a white male.

White Ally decided to message me after I commented on a problematic, Donald Trump-endorsing post made by them — someone who publicly declares themselves an Ally. This situation was already confusing and disheartening beyond belief, but then to have to undergo a lecture on how my views were not only wrong but also bigoted was the icing on top of a fantastic situation.

The individual started off with a comment on the thread asking if I disagreed that Caitlyn Jenner was a hero. This was laughable because I don’t care for Caitlyn Jenner and believe she’s a hypocrite for sitting on Ellen DeGeneres' show and saying that she’s a “traditionalist and therefore can’t accept homosexuality,” despite publicly transitioning and capitalizing on the progress that the LGBTQ+ community has made for decades.

It seems like I constantly have to have conversations about what it really means to be an Ally in today’s day and age. Well, why wouldn’t I? One of the most egotistical men on the planet is the leader of the free world, people of colour are continuously being killed for unfathomable reasons and racial acts of violence are becoming ever more blatant. Despite how evident all of this is, people — and it is usually white people — still lose their minds when black people come forward to say such things as “Black Lives Matter."

Now, let’s look at being black on campus at Western University. Yes, it is evident that Western is predominantly white. Yet, every year, a few black people choose to spend the next four years of their lives studying at this institution. When we come together in one of our few safe spaces to discuss why we chose to come here despite the clear underrepresentation of black students on campus, the conclusion is mostly unanimous: Western did a great job at convincing us that it was way more diverse than it actually is.

Like most students, our first experience at Western is typically O-Week. Depending on the social awareness of your peers, which is usually quite low given that they're mostly fresh out of high school, your O-Week experience as a black student will consist of white students using racial slurs with no care in the world.

Whether or not your soph is exposed to any type of diversity training, they might do one of the following: a) call your oppressors in, b) use this language themselves, thus giving your peers permission to do so as well, or c) do nothing. In case you’re wondering, c) is usually the outcome. Do not get me wrong, there are some amazing sophs on this campus, but there are always some problematic ones.

After this uncomfortable initiation to university life, you now begin your undergraduate career trying to navigate this new space that clearly wasn’t built with you in mind. Even more surprisingly, you learn that there aren't only a lack of faces that look like yours but that there are also a number of individuals, like White Ally, who believe that they understand your lived experience better than you do and are, therefore, authorized to let you know that your views are wrong. 

White Ally also said, “If you want to have a rational conversation I’m all ears, but let’s act like adults and not throw around ridiculous terms like white privilege, which is a racist term. You’re implying every white person is privileged.… You need to stop being racist.”

This is not only false but it is also incredibly naïve. As a white person, you simply cannot dictate to a black person what and who is racist. So forgive me for not wanting you or anyone who thinks like you to be an “Ally” of mine. As if this comment wasn’t enough, White Ally decided to send me a hefty thread in which they questioned my mental stability, attempted to reproach me for believing that Trump is a racist and stated that I was “acting like a victim” for sharing my lived experience.

So dear white people, if you want to be an Ally for vulnerable populations, the door is open, but do so with the understanding of how your power and privilege affects your perspective towards such populations. Oh, and one more thing, do not judge someone’s character or challenge their lived experience without justification. It is extremely disrespectful and unsolicited.

Sincerely, a carefree black woman who does not need your approval.


Load comments