Respect: To get it, you have to give it.Photo: Bil Browning
If you’ve spent much time online, you’ve likely encountered the Activists Who Complain A Lot crowd. Generally well-intentioned, these special little snowflakes not only critique a system of oppression, they also spend a large amount of time criticizing the people who are trying to tear that system down. You can find members of the AWCAL in any social justice movement, but LGBT people have turned the technique into an art form.
Practically every day you can find someone on social media or the blogosphere decrying someone else on their own side for a minor mistake or perceived slight. They’re well meaning, but they haven’t quite grasped the idea that no one is perfect. If you’re not an actual member of the oppressed group, the target on your back is even bigger and brighter.
Allies also find themselves the target of frequent articles written by academics who like to engage in the age old practice of undercutting progress by talking it to death. Full of words like “oppression,” “trigger warnings,” and “privilege,” these pieces make sure to place the blame exactly where it belongs… the allies who’ve joined a movement because they want to make a change. They helpfully points out all the flaws of allies, make sure to broadcast that they’re not actually members themselves, and accuse them of supporting the cause for their own aggrandizement.
You know what would be nice to read? Instead of the usual ally-bashing, liberal guilt bullshit, I’d like to read something that actually lays out the truth of being an ally: you will be the least appreciated and most maligned part of a group of people you empathize with and want to help.