We’ve been doing a great deal of work in the Editorial Collective of People Not Profit getting ready for the second issue. The way I look at it, the paper is a great way to reach out, and the website is a great way to keep udated in between issues. Last time I was in Illinois my comrades Kat and Max from the collective gave me a camera and I finally started to use it on Mayday in Tucson, please check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ix6ObYXsK_o and please help spread the word! In tucson we proudly continue to resist SB 1070 and other racist and xenophobic legislation.
We’re also delving into theory as we work within our Collective. We are not vanguardists and know we need to work on ourselves as people. This is the first purely theoretical piece I’ve written in years, and with the help of our comrades at People of Color Organize! we’re hopping this will turn into a great discussion on allyship.
A term thrown around a fair amount on the U$ Left is ally. I know a fair amount of people who hate the term, mostly because of a person claim to be an ally with no basis in reality. An old comrade of mine from Chicago took it is far as to say once, “White allies is an oxy moron.” Though I do agree that the concept of allyship can be problematic for this reason, I personally like the term and think it’s important. All rhetoric can be stricken meaningless through mis-use.
According to dictionary.com, one of the definitions of ally is “a person, group, or nation that is associated with another or others for some common cause or purpose: Canada and the United States were allies in World War II.” To me, this is the crux of the mater. When I use the term ally, it’s an acknowledgement of the very different places I can come from than my comrades, that these differences are real but when acknowledged, we can avoid letting them being devisive.
Noel Ignatiev wrote in To Advance the Class Struggle, Abolish the White Race, a text I consider to clearly define what I think of as white allyship in the U$:
“The abolitionists consider it a useless project to try to win the majority of whites, or even the majority of working class whites, to ‘anti-racism.’ They seek instead to compel capital to turn millions of ‘whites’ against it, by rendering the white skin useless as a predictor of attitudes. How many would it take to rob the white skin of its predictive value? No one can say. How much counterfeit money has to circulate in order to destroy the value of the official stuff? The answer is, nowhere near a majority: in the past, five to ten percent fake has proven enough to undermine public faith in the other. Whiteness is the currency of this society; to destroy it would take only enough counterfeit whites (race traitors) to undermine the confidence of the police, etc. in their ability to differentiate between friends and enemies by color.”
Along the same lines, in Moving Beyond a Politics of Solidarity Towards a Practice of Decolonization, Harsha Walia quoted bell hooks, “Solidarity is not the same as support. To experience solidarity, we must have a community of interests, shared beliefs and goals around which to unite, to build Sisterhood. Support can be occasional. It can be given and just as easily withdrawn. Solidarity requires sustained, ongoing commitment.”
We would like to know what our friends, comrades and/or readership thinks about allyship! Please get in touch with us with your ideas and let us know about work you appreciate. alextheweaver at peoplenotprofit dot net