My friend Dylan found this article on what it means to be an ally – and therefore given more power & privilege than the group you’re working for, and I find it echoes a lot of my experience.
These four points especially:
- We don’t *need* the movement: we can leave at any time. This means we are more free to piss people off etc
- Outsiders to the movement will reward us more. We’ll be seen as more generous, heroic etc for our efforts in the movement, and probably given more respect, airtime and resources as a result. Sometimes this results in really tangible benefits like research grants, book deals, employment.
- Insiders in the movement will reward and value us more, knowing that outsiders will value us, and that therefore we’re useful spokespeople and a legitimising presence. This means that sometimes we can get our way by threatening to leave. Even without threats, people will be eager to appease and placate us.
- Because we’re usually still able to access the various kinds of support and resources open to us outside the groups we are allies to, that means we have two areas to draw on, whereas non-ally activists have only their own communities’ support and resources.
Very, very good thoughtful stuff, and unlike many other articles on the subject, it actually provides useful ways of defeating, or subverting, those kinds of power.