If you decide to become an ally, but refuse to acknowledge that your words and actions are laced with oppression, you’re setting up yourself to fail. You will be complicit in the oppression of those you purport to help. You are not truly an ally.
.. Imagine your privilege is a heavy boot that keeps you from feeling when you’re stepping on someone’s feet or they’re stepping on yours, while oppressed people have only sandals. “Ouch! You’re stepping on my toes!” How do you react?
Because we can think more clearly about stepping on someone’s literal toes than we usually do when it comes to oppression, the problems with many common responses are obvious:
- Centering yourself: “I can’t believe you think I’m a toe-stepper! I’m a good person!”
- Denial that others’ experiences are different from your own: “I don’t mind when people step on my toes.”
- Derailing: “Some people don’t even have toes, why aren’t we talking about them instead?”
- Refusal to center the impacted: “All toes matter!”
- Tone policing: “I’d move my foot if you’d ask me more nicely.”
- Denial that the problem is fixable: “Toes getting stepped on is a fact of life. You’ll be better off when you accept that.”
- Victim blaming: “You shouldn’t have been walking around people with boots!”
- Withdrawing: “I thought you wanted my help, but I guess not. I’ll just go home.”