The text below was written from the experiences of many bodies who have been systemically impacted by the violences of colonialism . As a living text, it calls us to face our fears, to decenter, to disarm and to interrupt and to disinvest in harmful desires and entitlements, in order to open up different possibilities for existence – together.
We (Elwood and Vanessa) invite you to create a quiet space to hold the text close for a while and to witness your responses to what it calls you to do.
If you feel moved, please share what you have learned or felt in poetry, imagery, sound, movement or prose below. You can also contribute extra verses or write another version of the text.
wanna be an ally? (version 1) don’t do it for charity for feeling good for looking good or for showing others that you are doing good don’t do it in exchange for redemption from guilt for increasing your virtue for appeasing your shame for a vanity award don’t put it on your CV or on facebook or in your thesis don't make it part of your brand don’t use it for self-promotion don’t do it as an excuse to keep your privileges to justify your position to do everything except what would be needed to actually change the terms of our relationship do it only if you feel that our pasts, presents and futures are intertwined and our bodies and spirits entangled do it only if you sense that we are one metabolism that is sick and what happens to me also happens to you do it knowing you have the luxury of choice to participate or not to stand or not to give up your weekend or not whereas others don’t get to decide they do it to survive don’t try to “mould” me or to “help” me or to make me say and do what is convenient for you don’t weaponize me (‘I couldn’t possibly be racist’) don’t instrumentalize me (‘my marginalized friend says’) don’t speak for me (‘I know what you really mean’) don’t infantilize me (‘I am doing this for you’) don’t make your actions contingent on me confiding in you telling you my traumas recounting my traditions practicing your idea of ‘right’ politics or performing your preferred version of victimhood and expect it to be, at times, incoherent, messy, uncomfortable, difficult, deceptive, contradictory, paradoxical, repetitive, frustrating, incomprehensible, infuriating, dull and painful and prepare for your heart to break and be stretched do you still want to do it? then share the burdens placed on my back, the unique medicines you bring, and the benefits you have earned from this violent and lethal disease co-create the space where I am able to do the work that only I can and need to do for all of us take a step back from the center, the frontline from visibility relinquish the authority of your interpretations, your choice, and your entitlement to justice arbitration don’t try to teach, to lead, to organize, to mentor, to control, to theorize, or to determine where we should go and how to get there offer your energy to peel potatoes to wash the dishes to scrub the toilets to drive the truck to care for the babies to entertain the kids to separate the trash to do the laundry to feed the elders to clean the mess to buy the food to fill the tank to write the grant proposal to pay the tab and the bail to do and support things you can’t and won’t understand and do what is needed, instead of what you want to do without judgment, or sense of martyrdom or expectation for gratitude, or for any kind of recognition then you will be ready to sit with me through the storm with the anger the pain the frustration the losses the fear and the longing for better times with each other and you will be able to cry with me to mourn with me to laugh with me to “heart” with me as we face our shadows and find other joys in earthing, breathing, braiding, growing, cooking and eating, sharing, healing, and thriving side by side so that we might learn to be ourselves but also something else something that is also you and me and you in me and neither you nor me