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How *NOT* To Be An Ally in Times of Racial Reckoning

The last four years have certainly been trying for all of us; even those of us whose outer lives/inner security didn’t change all that much due to #45’s presidency have still had to figure out how to actually live with our families and grow our own vegetables. 

Times have been trying, indeed. And then, amidst an already debilitating public health crisis (waiting in line at the grocery store sucks!), we were asked to reckon with the systems of racism, inequality, and patriarchy under which we live. In fact, we’ve been asked to stand up against them. Yikes. How much can we white heteronormatives take?

We’ve seen “good people” crack under the pressure but I’m here to tell you that going to jail or going insane aren’t the only ways to passively resist this massive, long overdue wave of change. Rest assured: there are plenty subtle–and Safe!–ways to show you’d rather things stay the way they are, then for over half of our country to be afforded the same privileges you’ve been granted just by nature of your demographics.

You’re probably already doing some (most?) of these but just in case you need some more ideas, here are my favorite 10 ways to NOT be an ally during these difficult, unprecedented, challenging, unlike anything we’ve seen before, unheard of, wacko, hard, frightening, and confusing times:

  1. Stay Silent

There are so many voices in the neo-American cacophony that adding yours is truly a waste of everyone’s time, particularly yours. Non-allies are at their best when they’re suffering in silence, refusing to be a part of anything meaningful, especially a discussion that could get super uncomfortable when hippie-liberal Aunt Susan and white supremacist Uncle Jed are both at the table–if you know what I mean! One of the easiest ways to stay silent is to replace any thoughts of curiosity, responsibility, and humanity with scarcity, individuality, and fear.  Being a passive observer takes some time. Luckily, there’s no shortage of free time in this quarantine day-and-age!

  1. Forget to Fact Check

Occasionally, you will want to chime into a discussion, usually when there are absolutely no risks to you doing so, like a comment thread on Facebook. In this case, it’s best to spout facts and share links that just aren’t true. Well, maybe parts of them are true/ish.–there’s always that possibility, anyway–but adding factual data could very well buffer one side or the other of an argument; therefore, erring on the safe side and posting without fact-checking is recommended. Another tactic that is easy to adopt is sharing singular examples from your own life, or from the lives of those you feel well enough to exemplicate, as “case in point” of the answer to whatever larger issue is at hand. Note that these examples do not always have to be relevant, just as having happened.

  1. Pray for Peace

While others work toward changing policy and challenging long-standing oppressive systems that form the bedrock of our society and culture, we anti-allies need only send thoughts and prayers. There’s nothing more ineffective than praying over a problem. Like, it literally effects no actual change! Instead, praying, along with peacemongering and radical acceptance, actually gets us out of the hot seat of expectations. This whole thing really is out of our hands–because it’s in His Hands (or Her Hands, depending on how “liberal” you are). Offering simple well-wishes to families, colleagues, business owners and community members whose lives have been turned upside down in the past four years might feel ineffectual–because it totally is–but this just means, it’s something we can do. Over and over again. Ad Infinitum. Amen.

  1. “Protest With Your Wallet”

The libs love to proclaim how they vote with their dollars; it’s only fair that those of us caught in the middle of these culture wars do the same. How do you protest with your wallet? It’s as easy as remaining uneducated about where the products come from that you purchase on a daily basis. The best way to ensure your dollars aren’t supporting progressive ideas like women and minority owned businesses being able to stay afloat during a pandemic is to stay on the Big Box Store path: Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Target, Best Buy… Some are liberal-leaning and some are still run by old white men, so it’s good to vary your frequency, thereby covering all the bases of apathy. If buying online, order from Amazon Prime whenever you can. Lucky enough to be able to afford a Tesla? Good job. No respectable non-ally would drive an electric car not built by a total asshole. 

P.S. Stay away from Chick-Fil-A!!

P.P.S. ‘Merica Runs on Dunkin!!!

  1. Favor the Founding Fathers

The dudes who started our country were good guys. That’s a fact that needs no checking! A lot of this hullabaloo about changing names of buildings and taking down statues and revisiting long held myths that only serve to uphold patriarchal, oppressive systems is just whims of change blowing through the cultural landscape. Most of it’s gonna blow right over, so why get involved in these silly arguments and protests? Tom and John and Ben and a bunch of other white men just like them did their due diligence. They eloquently and bravely wrote words on paper. They revered intelligence, even as they ignored all systems of thought that differed from their own. And they set up this bucolic utopia that we now take for granted. Listen, it’s going to take a lot more than a few name changes for their grand vision to be knocked down a peg! Keep rooting for the home team–aka, the Founding Fathers–because we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them and that makes them perfect in all ways

  1. Expect to Evolve

The occasional book group on white fragility probably won’t hurt–but there’s no reason to actually study the true history of our country or to actively work towards changing your behavior in any way. Why? Because, as everyone knows, Americans evolve naturally and over time–the way {white} men intend for progress to be (see #5). Look around you: is anyone still pissing in a single stall bathroom outside? Do women still make less money than their male counterparts, all while fending critiques about hair hair and choice of wardrobe? Are minorities in our country still called by diminutive names? No, no, and no. That’s because progress is natural, albeit slow by some standards. (I, for one, could use free tele-massages as part of my Obamacare plan, please and thank-you.) True non-allies know not to expect too much of themselves. One day, change will come, whether we work for it or not. So why waste our time???

  1. Whine About Being Woke

Doing nothing that actually brings about change might seem like we should then replace our “Woke” face masks and coffee mugs, but that would make it difficult for us to get the perfect Instagram shot–that ever-so-sought-after balance between humility and boredom. Being woke is truly a burden to bear, so much so that it can pose a real challenge to our willingness to not become allies. Staying honest about this carrisome feeling is the way to go, though, because, in doing so, you’ll find a sympathetic, and likely shallow, audience that identifies with your very minimal pain. You can go as simple as a mug shot with #iwokeupwokelikethis #thestruggleisreal as back-to-back hashtags, or you can really let loose on social in a long instagram post no one’s going to read anyway. (FYI–this kinda mug shot, not this kind.)

  1. Say Hasta {la Vista} to “Hasty” Vaccines!

We can be grateful to Covid-19 for continuing to bring us myriad ways in which anty-allyship makes sense and, frankly, is quite easy. Refusing a vaccination that will literally turn our country’s health and economy around, not to mention save an enormous amount of lives, is one such opportunity. The reasons not to be vaccinated are so numerous, it would take another article to go into detail; however, the scary speediness of Science is a good one to latch on to until you see what happens. Hey–you’re not saying NO forever; you can always change your mind and get vaccinated later, after the majority of the population has tested efficacy and we’ve basically reached herd immunity and all that. For now, though, better say, “No Thanks. I’ll pass.” (Especially since we don’t really leave our houses anyway!!)

  1. Normalize Nasty

There’s no one nastier than the Nasty Boy himself–he who coined the term Nasty Women because he intimately knew the ins & outs of nastiness. (He who dealt it, smelt it. Know what I’m sayin’…?!) And yet, taking ownership of Nasty (just the word itself–not the right to actually be nasty, or the understanding of what that would entail) quickly became a non-ally non-starter, sort of like a nanny nanny boo boo for pundits. Reclaiming words that really don’t need to be reclaimed is, in fact, a standard non-ally act. Remember Hustle slogans? And the mainstream kids in your neighborhood that tried to pull off a “That’s Punk” every now and then? I’m nasty, you’re nasty, she’s nasty. We all scream for nasty. It’s so easy and non-powerful to say this delicious word–it just rolls right off one’s tongue. It’s like Tastee Kreme without the T and misspellings. Claim it. Say it. Normalize saying it. We’re getting nowhere and it feels…Nasty!

  1. Embody the Stereotype

Whether you’re living in poverty or you’re VIP-ing it up with the one-percenters, there are plenty of ways to embody a stereotypical non-ally. First and foremost, you must fully lean in to your biggest fears–hello, loss of privilege and power!–and act accordingly. For some of us who “pass” as good white people, we can simply remain wistful about the way things were. (Be sure to mention this in your “diverse” group of friends, though!) Others among us are viewed as a little less awake, so leaning in might look like picking up some new pro-gun decor or posting on  Facebook about the most recent totally Scientific article explaining how face masks are ineffective. If you were born wealthy, well then, you’re going to be seen as a bad guy no matter what–so maybe buy an island and live there until this whole thing blows over and American goes back to the way it was.


Of course, there are many, many, many more ways to *NOT* be an ally during a racial reckoning. These are just a few of my favorites–the tried and true, you might say. I’m sure you’ve been exploring a lot of these in your down time, while the tutor schools the kids and the sitter walks your Covid-adoption puppy. The important thing is not to get bogged down in the why and the reality of it all. It’s really much easier just to not think, and to act the way you’ve always acted.

On the other hand, if this list is overwhelming, perhaps you’re not quite ready to be apathetic. Maybe pray over it? Or try on non-allyship for size. Again, what you do or don’t do doesn’t really even matter! That’s the beauty of America. Humanity is going to evolve. Things are going to get better. Trials and tribulations are going to be taken care of by those watching over us. All we really need to do is sit back and wait for our fate to be decided. (Let’s face it: we’re pretty safe, either way.)

6 responses to “How *NOT* To Be An Ally in Times of Racial Reckoning”

  1. David Pasquarelli David Pasquarelli says:

    I’ve been thinking about your piece in relationship to my life. Although I’ve known intellectually for a long time that as a white middle class male that I am the benefit of a certain societal largesse or privilege, this past year has really driven that home. My wife has a great job that pays fairly well and I have a not as great job that pays a lot less (I’m a self-employed painting contractor), however we have both had work throughout the pandemic and aren’t in too much worse situation than we were last year. That is truly a type of privilege come to fruition, despite our many years of work to get where we are. I realize that I am not an ally as you would define it but I am definitely not an opponent and I would caution you not to define it so narrowly. We basically spend our days working to pay for all the same shit as everyone else, worrying about the mortgage, car payment, student loan payments, etc and simply do not have the time to be actively involved in protests or social justice movement organizations. I, and people like me, try to treat all people it’s dignity, fairness, equality, and an open mind. We spend our money accordingly with out beliefs and support candidates who believe as we do. Sometimes that all we can do.

  2. Avatar llxtm says:

    David–from your description, it sounds to me like you *are* an ally. I don’t define it narrowly. I myself do not attend protests either (I did my time on the streets!! LOL). I hope & believe that what my post speaks to here are the “little” things that white people (including me) do/don’t do without realizing that they are actually harming the rest of our country in doing them.

  3. David Pasquarelli David Pasquarelli says:

    I honk this year has been a good one for introspection and implementing positive change in our lives and hopefully in society as a whole. In the words of Socrates, “ The examined is not worth living.”

  4. David Pasquarelli David Pasquarelli says:

    Autocorrect killed me in that response.

  5. Avatar llxtm says:

    I love it. LOL You must not be logged in to the site because I keep having to approve every one of your comments!

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llxtm About llxtm

LLXTM is the Head Dreamer of this publication and various other projects, including Needle-Movers.com, The Perpetual You, and Ladymade. She has no spare time and yet eeks out moments to spend with her two {human} boys and two {puppy} boys. She can’t wait for spring, aka Covid Gardening, Part II. Follow her @wordsbyleelee on Instagram, or find her on her front porch in Hamden, CT.

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January 2021
What We've Learned