The revolution can’t be sponsored and/or acceptable to those we are revolting against.


By Gyasi Lake

I have no interest in “white allies.”

The construction of the white identity was implemented to unify white people across economic classes into an ideology that justified the further subjugation and exploitation of Black people, an ideology that holds true today. The concept of a white-identifying ally genuinely working in tandem with people of color for their liberation against a white supremacist system is counterintuitive to their status, rendering such an act unacceptable without reimagining our existing systems.

Through the altruistic facade of “white allyship,” white liberals and progressives place the intellectual labor of figuring out how to operate whiteness more humanely onto the most marginalized communities. The questions of “how can I, as a white person, assist the Black community?” shows one’s active investment in the societal benefits for white people and their collective reluctance to absolve from those benefits. It also feeds into the narrative of the necessity of a white savior that has run rampant in TV/Film portrayals of racial progress.

Many Black intellectuals and activists have truly wrestled with questions of this ilk since they were first posited in hopes of a rainbow coalition. The answers consistently point in one direction: liberation of oppressed Black communities is synonymous with the destruction of whiteness and its ideologies of control.

RELATED: Why I’ll never thank white “allies”

As a system, whiteness acts as an invisible elevator that lifts white voices floors above the Black voices that are most marginalized. This is the most harmful aspect of “white allyship.” In the white supremacist society we inhabit, it has the effect of de-prioritizing and de-centering the Black voices that are most affected in order to champion white voices that are deemed more palpable. This was the case in the #MeToo campaign, where issues that Black women have voiced for years have been met with little acknowledgement, if any, then saw those same movements co-opted by white women and pulled into the mainstream conversation.

When Academy Award winning actress Mo’nique took a stance against Netflix for their exploitative contract offer for a stand-up special and terms that would render Mo’niques likeness in Netflix’s control for two years, it resulted in a media tour where she has received vitriol from The Breakfast Club and most recently The Steve Harvey Show. Her claims that misogynoir played an integral role on the low Netflix offer has been met with intra-communal misogynoir through gaslighting and patronizing tactics.  

In 2018, Golden Globe nominated actress Ellen Pompeo was showcased in a interview for the Porter with Gina Rodriguez, Gabrielle Union and Emma Roberts. Ellen begin championing the cause for more diversity in the TV/Film industry and was applauded on Twitter for “leveraging her privilege” on an issue that has been voiced by Black feminists for decades. This narrative of allyship erases an incident in which Ellen claimed she understood racism because she has been called a white b*tch and weaponized her Black husband and Black kids to ward off social media attacks about her usage of Black emojis.   

In a reality where whiteness affords you the luxury of choosing whether or not to leverage your privilege and be revered uncritically, despite glaring flaws, Blackness can never flourish. Until whiteness is dismantled indefinitely, white voices will continue to be elevated and championed above the voices of the most marginalized communities.

The revolution can’t be sponsored and/or acceptable to those we are revolting against.

RELATED: The bar for white “allies” is absurdly low and I’m tired of watching them be praised for reaching it

Investing in “white allyship” is asking the machine that benefits from the exploitation of Black people to validate our humanity. The most performative and minimalist acts of “white allyship” are often praised and go without critique because at least the slight acknowledgement of Black humanity and validity of the issues we suffer through were addressed. It requires no significant actions for white people to critically interrogate their whiteness, abolish their need to view themselves as white or envision a world in which there is no language for whiteness to exist.

White people don’t exist in line with the liberation of Black people. Whiteness and the ideologies that were brought upon by whiteness must be eradicated for the freeing of Black bodies, making the possibility of white allies incongruous with the goals of said liberation. The sooner we rid our minds with the concept of white allies, the sooner we can strategize for the society devoid of whiteness.

Gyasi Lake is a student currently at Buffalo State majoring in sociology. He can be reached on twitter @SekaniGyasi.