[Image description: bright yellow flowers on a blue background with text reading: A Critique of Allyship]


Content Warning: antiblackness, racism, brief mentions of violence

I don’t think allyship exists, or if what I have seen of allyship in my life is exemplary of what it entails, I don’t think allyship means much of anything.

I’m writing this from a place of anger that’s been sitting with me for the past year. While my life has been full of racism in its varying forms, I have never felt it more present, tangible, and visceral in my life than now. This year I have encountered so many emboldened racists both in the classroom and outside of it. This year I have been called a “monkey” and a “gorilla” on two separate occasions by White men, I have seen a White man pantomime spraying a group of people of color with a hose (a la the Civil Rights Movement), been told my mother is ignorant for certain aspects of my raising, and experienced the crushing silence from other people of color and White men and women who sat idle while people have spewed vitriolic, racist beliefs.

Their silence is what has sat with me. I used to think that I could count on other people to speak up, but I have learned that no matter the instance the only person that I can count on to speak up is myself. This silence has shown me that “ally” is a term devoid of actionable meaning. It’s a word written on your Facebook timeline when an injustice happens, it’s a thing you can say to yourself to differentiate yourself from more visible oppressors, it’s an identity you can claim when you’re called out by marginalized people, but the term ally doesn’t require you to be willing to be active against systems of oppression, it just means that you are aware of them and think that they’re bad.

In this post, I seek to explain my stance that allyship is an empty term, but rather allies should seek to reconstitute their beliefs and actions to that of accomplices. I focus primarily on allyship in anti-racist work due to my proximity to the subject, but acknowledge the gaps in my research and existence of allyship politics within and amongst other marginalized groups.

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[Image description: green succulents with text and a slightly transparent white square with text  reading ” Volume One: Thesis/Essay Tips, Tricks, and Advice” in black font] Background Photo Credit: Ashley Van Dyke


Working on my senior thesis has required the acquisition of a lot of new skills that I haven’t had to empty as much during the rest of my undergraduate degree.

As someone who didn’t really learn the skills relevant to success in college in high school, through trial and error I’ve learned how to be “successful” (which is a super subjective, relative term) academically. A large part of my thesis in anthropology is requiring me to basically learn how to “do” anthropology independently.

I have found in my experience that the capitalist, competitive, individualistic values of Western society discourage collaboration and knowledge sharing as if you share something that’s helped you improve, you risk that they will compete with you and limit your opportunities. I have this feeling in my mind a lot. However, as I read more literature I am learning that an aspect of my Black feminist work means that I need to unlearn divisive, competitive practices in favor of those that encourage sharing, exchanging, and building upon other’s knowledge.

So, here is everything I’ve learned so far working on my thesis.

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[Image description: Bright yellow sunflowers]

Authors note: I was planning to do a post about being generous (with yourself and with others) this week, but I wasn’t feeling the most generous myself. It’s been a really rough week of dealing with racial macroaggressions and I just wasn’t in the mood to talk about being generous with other people, when I feel so hurt/sad/disappointed/etc. Instead, I am sharing a poem I wrote a few weeks ago related to the topic. I hope you enjoy.

[Image description: Bright yellow sunflowers and purple globe thistle]

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I struggle to identify with the mainstream feminist movement. The flaws in the mainstream feminist movement particularly the maintenance of White supremacy, capitalism, colonialism, imperialism and lack of diversity in leadership, transphobia, racism have put me off from the banner of mainstream feminism.

I acknowledge that there will be flaws and gaps in this essay as I am one person writing, editing, and researching the information for these works. As I am an anthropologist (in training), it’s important that I recognize my positionality in writing this piece. I write this essay from my position as a Black womxn from a low-income background with disabilities. My critique and disappointment with the feminist movement is grounded in my identity and the racism, sexism, classism, and ableism I have faced in my life. This series of essays will be grounded in contextualized historical and academic texts to support my argument that mainstream feminism is not good enough to exact meaningful, collective change.

This is part two of my four part series on Feminism in the United States, if you haven’t already read part one, check out A Brief History of First Wave Feminism for some background! If you’ve enjoyed this series and appreciate the intellectual labor (8 hours of research and writing and 2 hours of finishing touches) that went into its production, please consider supporting Noire & Co. on Patreon!  This section will cover the social movements that influenced the second wave of the feminist movement in the 60s and 70s in the United States, consciousness raising groups, and disintegration of the intersectionality in the second wave feminist movement.

Influences, Movements, & Women of Color

The 1960s marked an incredible time for social change in the United States. Hegemonic feminism focuses primarily on the anti-war movement, free love/hippie movement, and the publication of the Feminine Mystique (we’ll get to that later) as starting the women’s rights movement. However, this understanding of the feminist movement is ahistorical at worst and racist at best. It is difficult to discuss the second wave feminist movement because if you split the dialogue into women of color and white women, it makes invisible the multiracial coalitions between women of color and anti-racist White women. I’m going to try my best to give some focus to both facets of the movement, but I recognize that there are gaps in my knowledge.

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Summer never feels like summer if I’m at home. At home I feel trapped, stagnant, and unable to grow. I get stuck in the same complacent mindset of idly going through life that doesn’t lead me to growth or development. In my mind, my summers should be full of  long plane rides, traveling, speaking another language, and returning home a better person than when I left.

These delicious tasty morsels are called maamoul (transliterating Arabic is hard). I can’t think of any sort of comparable American treat that is like maamoul, but it’s date paste or walnuts wrapped in a flaky, crumbly dough. Since Eid is family time, last night we made a lot of maamoul. Our host mother (bless her heart, she’s amazing) made all of the date paste and the dough, and let us put all the decorations for the maamoul. Usually, you stick to one design for the ones filled with dates and another for the ones filled with nuts, but our host mother lovingly called the diverse designs we made for all of them “American Jordanian” maamoul.

This time last summer I was back in Jordan. At this time I was celebrating Ramadan with my host family, stammering through sentences in Classical Arabic. Everyday was so fresh and exciting. But not every summer can be traveling and fun and pleasant. Sometimes the summer is for work and being challenged and not having a rest for not even a second. The thought of all the things I need to do almost makes me seize with anxiety. So much of the VERY IMPORTANT THINGS I have to do are connected directly with my goals for my life.

This summer is for thinking about my future and I’m tired. Well, I’m always tired, summer really has nothing to do with it. I’m tired of school and homework and actual work and having things to do and nothing to do. It’s a kind of tired that sits in your bones. The kind of tired where you can get a full night sleep and still say “Man I am tired.” And because I’m a glutton for punishment and there is no rest for the weary, I’m gonna keep being tired this summer.
I have to work on my thesis so I can prove to grad schools that I’m a good candidate for a PhD and then I need to start studying for the GRE so I can get into grad school, and I need to start working on my applications for grad school and I need to get fit so I feel more confident for when I’m in grad school and I needtoineedtoineedto.

There are so many things that I want to do…have to do to be the person that I want to be and have the success that I’ve imagined since I was a teenager. While this mindset has been beneficial in that I’ve achieved a lot of successes, it’s also really challenging. I deal with a lot of self-doubt, any sort of setback feels monumental, and comparing myself to other people.

Since I began college, I’ve been on a journey to maintain my high standards, but also chill out on the self-hate that comes with being a perfectionist/having anxiety/not willing to compromise on my goals.

It’s okay not to be perfect

It took my a long time to realize that it’s okay not to be perfect. It’s okay for my plans to go off of my planned path. It’s all okay. Getting a grade that I’m not happy or is lower than I anticipated in a class is not going to destroy my future.
In the moment, it can honestly feel like one setback is all encompassing and is setting a downward trend for your life (especially if your me), but in the long run, these moments are insignificant and only determine as much as you let them.

Change how you define success

Like last year, the way I defined success was perfection. Progress wasn’t good enough, like if I did something it needed to be perfect. This way of thinking tbh will make you hate yourself in a second. Instead try to focus on the things you learned in the process or find joy in something you learned along the way.

Literally chill

Chilling out is great. For my own mental health, being in a gottagofast gottadoallthethings mindset is not conducive to my overall physical, mental, and social health. If I’m putting all my energy into one thing, it means I can’t put energy in all the other things that are important to my health.

I’m still working on it though. Especially this summer when so much of what I’m doing is laying the foundation for my future and I really to be more balanced in all aspects of my health.

How has your summer been? Let me know in the comments or on twitter @noireandco