One of the things I have learned about allyship is that it is difficult. It requires a willingness to be uncomfortable, and to admit when you're wrong. It also means, to me, at least, highlighting and elevating voices of those whose communities have been oppressed. To listen and hear these experiences.
As noted in part 1 of this series, I posted this link to my personal Facebook page. To me, I see much of what Marcus Johnson is talking about exhibited on the left. And I greatly appreciate Mr. Johnson's observation - as a black man - and outline of how the left can be better allies. The Democratic Party does not exist without people of color, and if those who believe we need to focus on "white working class" voters neglect communities of color in the process - either intentionally or indirectly - we still will lose.
Some of the responses (almost exclusively by white dudes): "This article is a piece of shit." "I don't think the loss had anything to do with race." "This article is simply not accurate." "Another Sanders hit piece." "...Obama was a necon who's policies did nothing for people of color..."
The deification of Sen. Bernie Sanders appears to have led people to reject and attack any point of view that is different. Notably, when a black man expresses his concerns with how the black community is being ignored by the left, or written off as "identity politics" - something that Sen. Sanders has decried, while explicitly complaining that the Democratic Party doesn't connect well-enough with "white working class" Americans - I am flabbergasted to see a response so focused on attacking the black man and hailing the Senator from Vermont.
Even worse: when one person claimed that Sen. Sanders "let" Marissa Johnson take the mic, and was corrected with her experience, white folks stepped in to explain that Marissa was wrong.
That is shitty allyship.
This question was posed to me in the comments on my Facebook post. For those who don't know, Vanessa is an amazing human, a great progressive, and I think very highly of her.
Here's the thing: I didn't attack Barack Obama, relentlessly, for getting paid to give a speech. That was Sen. Sanders and his supporters. I didn't call into question the progressive bona fides of a Democrat running in a red part of Georgia while praising an anti-choice Democrat in Nebraska. That was Sen. Sanders. And it has continued to be Sen. Sanders supporters who refuse to acknowledge that he does shit wrong.
I am all-in on a unified, liberal Democratic Party. However, I am not willing to sit back and let that be a unified, white, liberal Democratic Party. As many folks on the left can attest to, I'm an equal opportunity critic, particularly of decisions and practices that alienate historically marginalized communities. I'll call out people who are doing good on immigration for not doing the same for WMBs. It's well known that I'll call out long-time allies for being shitty on public statements regarding survivors of sexual assault. If a group that I'm close to fails on elevating voices of communities of color - I'm the jerk who calls them out. I broke from my own Party when it criticized a woman for speaking out about an alleged assault.
So when Sen. Sanders, Sen. Warren, or white folks on the left start railing against (insert issue here) as not as important as economic issues, I'm going to have something to say about it. Because while I could sit on my hands and be quiet, I'm not sure how that ensures that we are continuing to be a Party that recognizes that while income inequality is a major lead to ills in our country, institutional sexism, racism, transphobia, and homophobia make that much more acutely felt among certain communities. And if leaders in those communities are expressing concern that they are being ignored, that's a major problem.
To me, being an ally means elevating voices that might not otherwise be heard. And yes, sometimes that means we have to have uncomfortable conversations, but if we don't, there is so much more that we can lose. The Democratic Party needs black and brown voters, women, LGBTQ voters. But if the Democratic Party is not talking about issues that are germane, then these voters won't turn out. If the Democratic Party and our elected officials don't act on and make policy happen that address systemic inequalities, then we will be a wilderness for a long time.
I am unsure how attacks on black and brown people noting that attacks on black and brown people is not a smart path to keep the Democratic Party coalition is the right avenue for our Party. I'm not perfect, and am continually learning and growing. A part of that is a willingness to listen, to be wrong, and to correct myself. It's hard. But for fuck's sake, it's super easy compared to the disadvantages we have given so many in our community, and at bare minimum, it is literally the least I can do.