Monday, March 8, 2010

Six Rules For Allies

Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones
gave 6 rules for allies (cross race/ gender/ sexuality/ nationality/  religion etc) in her keynote speech given 19 February 2010 at a luncheon sponsored by Abriendo Brecha Vll Conference and The Seventeenth Annual Emerging Scholarship In Women’s and Gender Studies Conference, University of Texas, Austin.

A complete transcript of her speech is available at Sharon Bridgforth's site by clicking here. I'm excerpting a portion here, but it will not do complete justice to the moving and brilliant words of Dr. Jones, so please take in the entire message from the video and/or the transcript -- and pass it on:

"I take this opportunity to speak with you very seriously. The times require that I use every moment of public presentation to speak the truth as I know it. That is my job as an artist, a scholar, a teacher, a committed human being seeking to make a world of peace and justice for everyone.

"This truth telling is dangerous business. It leaves one vulnerable — but our vulnerability is our strength. It leaves one exposed, but exposure allows the wind to whip through all those dank and musty spaces of terror and blow away isolation and fear. Truth telling leaves us free—and that is, after all the point.

"This truth telling is especially dangerous for a Black queer woman, for me. My very safety is at stake when I speak the truth, the truth of my life, and the truth of the world as I know it. My truths challenge the very foundation of the systems around me, systems that variously support and denigrate me, systems that applaud and slap me.

"So, as I walk, I look for mirrors, for allies who are also committed to everyone’s freedom, allies willing to risk their own safety in order to insure mine."

"I offer some reflections on what it means to be an ally to queer people, to women, and to people of color."

(1) "Allies know that it is not sufficient to be liberal. In fact, the liberal position is actually a walk backwards...The liberal position supports the status quo of the academy which means that racism, sexism, homophobia, the perils of nationhood, and a commitment to class structures cannot be undone in the academy—unless we move toward a radical rather than liberal position."
(2) "Be loud and crazy so Black folks won’t have to be! Speak up! Say it! Name it!" (Likewise men, straights, and Christians.)
(3) "Do not tell anyone in any oppressed group to be patient."
(4) "Recognize the new racism, the new sexism, the old homophobia. It is institutional and structural."
(5) "When called out about your racism, sexism or homophobia, don’t cower in embarrassment, don’t cry, and don’t silently think 'she’s crazy' and vow never to interact with her again. We are all plagued by racism, sexism, and homophobia. Be grateful that someone took the time to expose yours—remember, exposure allows the wind to whip away isolation and fear."
(6) "Allies actively support alternative possibilities."