Yahoo Life is hosting a 5-day challenge to help readers learn one actionable thing each day to be a better ally to marginalized or disenfranchised people.
Effective allyship is not only learning about our role in perpetuating systemic oppression, it is about actively working to create systemic change. An important part of doing anti-racism work is determining how we can leverage our privilege to benefit others.
Today is Day 4 of the Yahoo Allyship Pledge: 5 day challenge with Frederick Joseph, author of The Black Friend: On Being A Better White Person. This is a guided program you can follow along with from home in order to learn how to identify your privilege, recognize systems of oppression and become a better ally.
In Days 1 and 2, we took inventory of our own privilege and learned we need to get uncomfortable to unlearn bias.“In Day 3 of our challenge, we wrote down systems we benefit from that we want to dismantle,” Joseph says. “Day 4 of our challenge is about creating space and then getting out of the way.”
Day 4: Create space
“What does it mean to create space? I like to define it as looking at the benefits [we] have, and the resources, access and privilege that come along with them,” he says, explaining those who are oppressed need better access to resources and privileges.
This requires us to find ways in which our resources, access and privilege can be utilized to help others, Joseph says, explaining how he might use his privilege as a man living in a patriarchal society to pass along a career opportunity to a woman.
“Creating space” could look like suggesting an event organizer find a woman to speak in his place, Joseph says, rather than accept the offer. “Many times the benefits, resources, and privileges that [we] have are only [available] because someone else is being oppressed,” he says, explaining it is important to move aside.
However, he cautions against practicing “saviorism,” or doing anything in order to receive favor or praise. “Do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do,” says Joseph.
He points out how white saviorism and “performative activism” can sometimes be seen by white people supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
“One example of performative activism is when people were posting [images of] black squares during the protests of 2020,” Joseph says, emphasizing many had good intentions while posting on social media, but did reflect on whether their actions would create real change.
Performative activism often only serves to make people “feel good” without doing any real work, Joseph says.
“What I want you to do is take your list of systems, and the ideas you have about dismantling them, and actually put them into action,” Joseph says, encouraging us to use our resources to “help support people or organizations” working to dismantle systems we benefit from.
“The challenge for Day 4 is to find an organization, or an individual, [working] to dismantle systems you benefit from,” Joseph continues. For example, if you are committed to dismantling classism, he suggests supporting a politician creating policies that promote social equality.
This can mean a “myriad of things,” he says, from “donating to [them], getting out and volunteering with them, or simply amplifying [their] work so others can get involved and support them as well.” Here is a list of organizations Joseph recommends: The Innocence Project, Rustin Center, Ali Forney Center, Bail Project.
“I’ll see you all tomorrow for our fifth and final challenge day on the road to [creating] systemic change,” Joseph adds.
Video produced by Jacquie Cosgrove
Resources to learn more about allyship: