The debate between being an ally verses accomplice
Sometimes I live in the land of TikTok. It's usually when my ADHD is un-managed and I hyper-focus on scrolling through TikTok videos ignoring my other responsibilities that could actually benefit from my hyper-focusing. That just seems to be the way of ADHD, and I'm working on continuing to figure out how to work with it and not against it. I digress.
While looking through social justice TikTok I noticed a pattern of people calling out allies for things like performative allyship and self appointing oneself as an ally. I noticed a theme, there seems to be a debate between allyship and being an accomplice. I started to understand why when things cropped up in my own life. I watched someone that I respected carry the label of ally like a badge of honor, but when it came down to doing the work with actual people she could personally influence, silence. I quickly discovered that this label of ally was only for clicks and personal pats on the back, but not for true movement. It wasn't for the hard work, it was for the "look what I did, I'm such a good person."
While I was a bit heartbroken by this discovery, I was also happy to see that before I associated too deeply that this was revealed. It saved me true hurt. In the first few months after George Floyd's death, ally was being thrown around like it was a prize to win, or a badge to keep shiny. It rarely involved the real work that goes into being an ally. I now understand that ally is passive. It's not a verb. Ally is saying "hey, I'm nice to everyone and I support their voices." This isn't a bad thing, but it isn't a true change agent.
Enter the accomplice. When someone calls you an accomplice in the fight for social justice, they are saying they see the work you're putting in. An accomplice is active. An accomplice is doing work on the front lines, behind the scenes, and within their family and friend circles. An accomplice isn't a title you can self appoint, it is given to you by the marginalized group you're fighting with. When you commit to action, you're committing to saying "I support your voice and I'm going to fight along side you to make sure others hear you."
I have met many accomplices, and they always amaze me. They use their position of privilege to make noise un-apologetically. They check in with the folks they're fighting with to make sure they're not overstepping or silencing. Accomplices aren't there for charity; they're there because they see an issue and they want to change it with their physical and mental energy. They won't take no for an answer. They won't settle for less than equality. They are equal partners in the fight because if there isn't social justice for all, there's social justice for none. They understand their role and they show up every time.
Are you an accomplice?