By Nancy Azcona
In the past few years, we’ve been seeing our generation’s version of a civil rights movement emerging and taking off. Most of us are very aware that BIPOC have been fighting the same fight for actual centuries, but this is the closest we (the younger generation) have been to being a part of the actual fight itself. I remember using my voice in whichever way I could (actively) all the way back in 2014 when the Ferguson riots began after the unjust shooting of 18 year old Michael Brown. That same year we lost Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Tanisha Anderson, and a year later Sandra Bland and Amber Monroe. Unfortunately the list continues pre-dating 2014 and far past it. We’ve seen everything from Black men, women, and persons murdered, Indigenous people constantly fighting for what was theirs all along, immigrants fearing their lives because of ICE, children in cages, and BIPOC trans folx beaten and bruised. And for what?
Now in 2020, we’ve been seeing all of the aforementioned in what feels like tenfold. It may be the number of people finally listening or all of it being intensified with how incredibly shitty this entire year has gone, but there’s one thing that hasn’t been sitting right with me for some time now, and that’s white allyship. Don’t get me wrong, I am aware that many things don’t get across without the amplification of a white privileged ally (not always but most times). After posting a weird black square on social media became a “show of solidarity”, I have felt incredibly on guard. I have found myself always checking that those allies around me have good intentions, or if they are just incredibly talented at keeping up the performance. Infographics being thrown around like a mall perfume samples person trying to grab your attention, letting you know they’ve got IT, the answers, the knowledge, the latest, and hottest headline has all felt a bit… off to me.
What is rubbing me so wrong about people finally listening, hearing us, or saying something at all? Why is it bothering me so much when I see Rebecca sharing articles regarding the unjust things happening in ICE detention centers or Derek speaking up for Trans lives? I was so conflicted that I asked whoever was listening: Hey has anyone else been suspicious of white allyship? And to my surprise, I haven’t been alone, though I’ve felt incredibly bad questioning any allyship, which is something to unpack at a later date. Some responses I got were as simple as “yeah it’s all been really off to me too” to “I feel like I know less than them at times so I’m checking in with myself for that reason”. The last one stuck with me for a bit, I wouldn’t say I feel less educated on these subjects than my white counterparts, but the fact that another POC felt the need to check in with themselves hit me. Do we feel like we are being talked at about things that we’ve experienced in our daily lives from literal birth?
Instagram posts and stories saying “We must do something!/Join me in this!/Have you seen what’s been going on?!” have felt a bit condescending. Yes I am very aware, I’ve seen it, I’ve lived it, I’ve been fighting it my entire life. My transgressions are not the same as the person next to me, but I’ve grown up in a world where my mother would get incredibly disrespected simply for not being able to speak English well. My community has been treated less than for our language, our vernacular, our upbringing, our culture. The sour taste also comes from actively seeing certain people post these infographics and articles, knowing they themselves have inner work to do.. It’s hard to ignore that people are throwing out these posts for what feels like the sake of seeming “woke”. I think self-education is immensely needed/important, but making it outwardly seem like you’ve always carried this knowledge or have always been “down”while coming from a place of privilege seems a bit misleading. I’m glad you’re for us now Meg, but I do think it’s important to recognize you may have not always been there. Just like most of us have difficulties remembering our accomplishments, I think it’s equally as important and difficult to recognize our not so tasteful pasts. Even falling under the BIPOC umbrella myself, I am incredibly aware that I have not been this open to others’ difficulties. I grew up with a Christian and ableist mindset and am sure at one point that has hurt someone. I am thankful that I am no longer in that mindset, but I am no Mother Theresa and I‘m okay with making mistakes and learning unabashedly.
With all that said, should people stop sharing that information, trying to rally people for a greater cause? No, not at all, but I’ve become incredibly aware that those messages from those people are not for me nor those who are like-minded. They are for a large group of people that are finally realizing that things really kind of suck (for a lack of better words) for a lot of people that don’t look like them. That’s excluding so many other factors, like how one chooses to identify or queerness or income status or any other intersectionalities one person can have. I don’t hate infographics. I do think they’re incredible resources and can act as a catalyst in doing further research. For those who may have been feeling uncomfortable with inauthentic allyship on social media, I wanted to share resources straight from the source; from community leaders/ organizations themselves. As I mentioned, self-education is so important, so I wanted to provide some resources so you and I can continue that beautiful process.
(Keep in mind these aren’t the only issues/the only people speaking on these issues.)
Plus Sized BIPOC Issues
Disability as a BIPOC
For The Culture
Nancy Azcona is a 25-year-old Salvadorian/Dominican New Yorker living out in Los Angeles since 2017. Queer and first-gen American, the intersections are truly endless. She has been working in the entertainment industry since 2016 and is currently a Production Coordinator at the digital company SMOSH. Her articles have been featured on Funknvibe’s previous blog platform and her spoken word has been performed at their live events as well as on DPL open mics. In her spare time, she enjoys taking care of too many plants, working on her imperfect ceramic pieces, watching any and all reality TV shows, and using her voice to tear down systematic oppression.