July 25, 2013
Being a good ally is, in part, about listening. It is about recognizing your societal privilege (whiteness, maleness, heterosexuality, etc.), and setting aside your own whatever (denial, fear, concern, guilt, frustration, anger, certainty) to just listen. That doesn’t mean you never get to talk, or that your emotions and perspectives are unimportant. To get the full picture, conversations about sex, gender, and race need all perspectives—and our current system creates problems for everyone. But because the voices of women and people of color are ignored, dismissed, sidelined, and erased by both the media and our educational system, their voices should be heard first. Conversations about race need the voices of those who deal, in their daily lives, with racism. Their voices are vital to understanding the ways in which racism is unconscious as well as conscious—the ways it is coded into every system we have. And when people of color speak about racism in America, the rest of us need to listen right off the bat—before we speak, before we ask a question, before we try to defend or fix anything. We just need to listen.