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A COMMUNITY FOR ALLIES TO CONNECT WITH OTHER ALLIES

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Understand the discrimination faced by black and minority people, support, gain information and take action. You can't be an Ally unless you understand the problem.

Please join to make the most out of this forum. I need you to help make change happen.

By Dylan Shimmon


Dear White People,


This is going to hurt. So, I’m just going to dive right in and say it.


I have privilege. And you do too.


I have privilege in being able-bodied.

I have privilege in being White.

I have privilege in being university-educated.

I have privilege in being native English-speaking.

I have privilege in being a citizen.

And the list goes on.


This privilege I have access to, does not shame me into silence. It does not guilt me into wilful ignorance or inaction. And your privilege shouldn’t either.


Instead, I choose to repurpose my privilege, to share it, to work towards ensuring an uneven playing field is levelled. Make no mistake though, this is no game.


We exist in a cruel world with its foundations entrenched in exclusion, trauma, incarceration, oppression, colonization and extraction. It is a binary world classified by us and them, the haves and have-nots. It was built this way; built for Whiteness, upheld by racist power, with White people in mind.


I acknowledge this, but I do not accept it. I choose to challenge, disrupt, and dismantle it.

Does this make me anti-White?


Am I anti-White for asking that as White people we give away our power to redistribute it and share it? Am I anti-White because I critique Whiteness and continue to ask uncomfortable questions, strive for self-awareness, and persist in self-examination?


No. I don’t believe so. Such binary thinking of “it’s us or them” is unhelpful and pointless. My family are White. I have White friends. I exist in White spaces.


And yes, I am being intentional with my language here. I will not police my language to sanitise it for your comfort-sake. If I did, it would avoid righting the injustices and upend my demand for accountability.


In committing to a project of knowing and being intentional with my language, I am saying I refuse. I refuse to further perpetuate a status quo that is anti-Black, anti-queer, anti-feminist, and the list goes on. I have no interest in minoritizing communities and wounding them with -isms.


Now as White people, we like to complain about how all of this makes us feel uncomfortable, how we feel targeted and claim to be victims of reverse racism. But why?

Is it because as Cathy Park Hong suggests in her book entitled Minor Feelings, when White people “feel self-conscious of their white identity [it] misleads them into thinking their identity is under threat. In feeling wrong, they feel wronged. In being asked to be made aware of racial oppression, they feel oppressed.”


Let me break this down for you, from one White person to another (if that makes it more palatable).


We are not under threat. We are not oppressed. We are not being shamed for the colour of our skin. We are not being asked to apologise for our ancestors.

But we are being asked to acknowledge and recognise the harm we’ve done in upholding systems of exclusion (knowingly or not) and commit to undoing, to self-examining, and at the very least be willing to unlearn.


As Ijeoma Oluo puts it, the “beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.”


So let me cut to the chase. What am I asking you to do? I’m asking you to begin doing the self-work today.


· Instead of offering an opinion, be curious & ask questions to better understand another person’s perspective.

· Accept your voice does not belong in every conversation.

· Ask yourself questions that make you feel uncomfortable and grow your self-awareness.

· Lay down your defensiveness and come to terms with your fragility.

· Be intentional in exposing yourself to difference.


But more importantly, accept you have privilege and put it to good use by taking action and creating more equity.


Oh and one last thing, while we’re here together; never forget that there is privilege in educating oneself about racism and not having to experience it.


Yours in privilege


Dylan


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I am proud to be Chikere Igbokwe, a Black Woman of Nigerian/Trinidadian decent, using my platform to create change. I am proud to be the mother of of two amazing teenagers. I am proud to be the founder of Inclucive, a DEI Consultancy and Allyship a community for Allies to come together in a safe space and learn. I am proud to be calling YOU to action.


It’s been over a year since the terrible murder of George Floyd. The 25th of May 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, the murder shocked and woke the world up to the horrors of racism and injustice faced on a daily basis by Black and Brown people in their communities and workplace around the world.


Many people and organisations have since been on a journey of awakening – educating themselves, having conversations, listening to Black and Brown Communities and been on a journey of learning. I have always said we need Allies – Active Allies. Allies who will use their power and privilege to create change.


But from having conversations with people, the difficulty faced by many is how to start. Where to find information. Allyship is a lifelong journey of self-education, having difficult conversations, learning, un-learning, re-learning, listening, making mistakes, acknowledging your privilege, staying engaged and never stopping.


So, for the month of October – Black History Month 2021 – The Allyship Community and Inclucive DEI Consultancy will be dedicated to the 30 “day” Allyship Challenge to help you start your Allyship journey. (Remember we need more Active Allies!). This challenge will provide you with necessary resources and guide you along as you start or maybe continue on your journey. There will be a list of books, workshops you can attend, listening sessions, podcasts and many more activities.


Take the challenge with family, friends and colleagues and be on the Journey together. The Challenge runs from 1st October to 31st October but remember Allyship is a life long journey so you can start the challenge anytime. Click here to sign up. The first news letter went out yesterday click to access - Week 1: Unlearning to Amplify & Activate.

Meet us on Friday 8th October 1-1:30pm to discuss week one. Click here to join.

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By Dylan Shimmon



A LETTER TO MUM


Pride Month for me stands for a refusal to have our stories silenced. Because our stories matter. We matter.


So, this is my story. It is a story of shame. And it is a story of finding love and compassion for my Mum who has battled coming to terms with my identity as a gay man.


It is deeply personal. It is an open letter I share with the world in the hope those who feel the way I felt, know they are not alone.


This story. My story. It serves to remind me to practice grace and compassion.


***I am indebted to authors Matthew Todd and Hari Ziyad for gifting me the language to articulate my thoughts and share my understanding of my journey.***





Dear Mum


I know that my coming out as your gay son fractured our relationship in so many ways. It has always been a source of deep-seated pain for me, one I keep buried away because until now I had no way of coming to terms with it, nor the self-awareness to confront it.


I am ready now though to face this head-on and I hope my words will bring healing to us both.


My story begins with shame. Shame has been inflicted upon me as a gay man in such powerful ways.


“Growing up in a society that still does not fully accept that people can be anything other than heterosexual. It is the damage done to us by growing up strapped inside a cultural straitjacket, a tight-fitting, one-size restraint imposed on us at birth that leaves no room to grow outside its narrow confines.” (Todd 2016: 11).


Since the age of ten I have possessed an understanding that I was different to other boys. I talked differently, behaved differently, and my “childish consciousness slowly started to realise that this way of being wasn’t acceptable.” (Todd 2016: 49).


By the time I had reached high school those narrow confines only constricted further. Subjected to bullying, I fought for survival.


“If I couldn’t feel those “gay” feelings, maybe it would mean they weren’t real. So I sank them…to the bottom of my psyche where they remained submerged…I shut down, not just sexual feelings, but all my feelings.” (Todd 2016: 51).


I crippled my developing emotional self.


Fast-forward to my university years. This was a space in which I could “explore my queerness unencumbered.” (Ziyad 2021: 125). For the first time in my life, I encountered people like me. I saw myself reflected in them. I belonged to a community and started to unshackle my freedom from its punishing entrapment. I began to feel at home in myself. My existence was validated. I was accepted and respected as myself. This gave me the strength to sit down with you and Dad that evening and tell you I was gay. It takes enormous courage to reveal your true self.


Upon reflection, I now understand your fears and concerns about embracing “my love for someone who wasn’t a woman” (Ziyad 2021: 28). I now see that your invasive questioning came from a place of love and rooted in a mother’s love for her son.


Your questions each time we saw one another such as: “How do you know if you’ve never been with a woman?” or “Why would you choose to make your life even more difficult?” or mentioning HIV/AIDS was a traumatising reaction for me. I internalized those fears, and it triggered that spear of shame. My defences went up. I armoured myself to shield my emerging true self from all of this. I shouted you down. I eroded our bond.


Avoiding one another. Avoiding my queerness. Avoiding those tough conversations. The ones we should have had so we could learn and grow from one another. “Embracing avoidance” has hollowed out our relationship (Ziyad 2021: 113).


I want you to know that I recognise the growth you have made. I want you to know I’ve never doubted the deep wells of love you have for me. And I am grateful for you. I am proud to call you my Mum. You are loved. You matter to me.


I love you unconditionally and wholeheartedly.

















Bibliography


Todd, M. (2016). Straight Jacket: Overcoming Society’s Legacy of Gay Shame. London: Transworld Publishers.


Ziyad, H. (2021). Black Boy Out of Time: A Memoir. New York: Little A Publishers.

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