I wake up every day, check Twitter, and panic. This is my morning routine, and has been for the last few months: waking up, forgetting about what’s been going on, and getting a rude awakening from my own personal black mirror. From a self-care standpoint, this is a terrible routine, but in a sick, twisted way, I feel it’s my responsibility to be attuned to daily horrors, the newest short-sighted, terrifying tirade by our president, the newest executive order, the latest unqualified person to become the most powerful in their governmental field, the newest act of violence, or silencing. To stay informed is to stay nauseous.

But, on another level, I feel entitled when I do this. After all, these horrors aren’t directly affecting me, as a body of privilege. Does my panic and fear drown out those who are far more at risk of being affected? I’ve been doing a lot of searching and, honestly, yes. It does. I am of the belief that resistance is necessary, but I cannot be the face or the body of the resistance, to fight quietly and in support. It’s a difficult line to toe, but, with my privilege and entitlement, I personally need to figure it out. Maybe it’s obnoxious to share this, it’s a struggle far less significant than so many others during this time, but if I turn it outwards, maybe other potential allies (and allyship is a process, never quite earned, and so easy to perform the gesture of it without putting in the significant work) will ask themselves these kinds of questions.

On November 9, 2016, I was thinking about the phrase “do the work,” and how I exactly could do the work, with these necessary restrictions. I wanted to help those around me, and to try and do so with the least amount of arrogance and self-aggrandizement. There isn’t an easy answer, but what I’ve found is relatively simple, though not as simple as raising ones voice for what one thinks is right.

One must listen more than they speak.

We, the privileged, have and continue to be the dominating voice in most forms of discourse. The loudest, the most frequently articulated. Look at any comment section anywhere, and you can find long passages of people with privilege explaining, and rationalizing, in terms that are, at least superficially, logically sound, for the priority of some voices above others, of some bodies freedom above other peoples, chocking that up to “differing opinions.” In fact, that term, “differing opinions,” has been the blanket that has obscured systemic and white supremacist forces for the entirety of its existence. When things are as simple as a manner of perspective, irrational things can be put into rational terms. This is the prime weapon of the forces of marginalization, of white supremacy, of keeping systems of privilege in place. In taking something irrational, and put it into rational terms, these irrational rationalizers have become a ubiquitous presence.

Seeing evil put in rational terms, well-meaning allies combat that rationalization in kind, with their, our, own rational terms, statistics, precedent, and evidence. While this is well-meaning, it is doomed to fail on impact, because everything rationalized can be proven, and disproven, and proven again; and when something obvious is disputed and supported within infinite echoes, it is the voice of dispute, the irrational-rational, that will win. Because we are privileged, and we have learned that our voices are valuable, we are inclined to speak far more than we are to listen, and it is second nature to raise our voices, to scour the internet, to find “facts,” to meet people on their terms. When you combat, say, someone’s claim that Islam is a violent religion with statistics that say otherwise, you are opening that argument, a silly, scary, irrational argument, to rational debate, giving equal weight to a side that is patently wrong. This is the sinkhole allyship often finds itself falling down.

But how do we combat this tendency? It’s in the systems that we live in, ingrained in our voices, in our lives. These tendencies to drown out the marginalized, even when attempting to do good for the world, is a tough one to shake off. But it is something that must be shaken off. So we must listen. Listen to the people around you. Listen to those who do not share our privilege, the priority of our voices, are bodies, our movement. Internalize the words, the language that will have a positive impact, uncover what we may be doing that is misguided, and actively fight against that urge. Speak up only with the consent of those who we have drowned out. Never stop fighting. Never stop doing the work. But listen.

I may not stop myself from my morning routine, waking up, looking at my phone, and discovering all the hells that await, but every morning, I try and remember what allyship takes, how easily it goes astray. Rather than shouting, I try to look for the voices being the most drowned out. Then I try and listen.

  • Man with Axe

    I’m trying my best to understand your point. It seems to be that you don’t believe that white people are entitled to have opinions that differ from non-white people, and if they do, they should shut up about it. Is that the point?

    By the way, this pretentious use of “body” to mean “person” is extremely tedious. It was tedious when Ta-Nehisi Coates did it, and it’s not getting any easier to swallow with constant usage.

    • shan sam

      Who are “white people”? very broad. I cant understand your point

      • Man with Axe

        The author of the piece wrote: “In fact, that term, “differing opinions,” has been the blanket that has obscured systemic and white supremacist forces for the entirety of its existence.”

        So, you tell me what “white” means in that sentence.

  • Arafat

    Islam is violent. Islam’s prophet was violent. Islam’s history is barbaric.

    It is said that Islam’s thousand year long jihad against southern Asia has resulted in 70 million Hindu and Buddhist deaths. Who knows how many died when Islamist jihadists conquered north Africa, the Middle East, Constantinople, Spain, Portugal, southern France and fought their way all the way to the gates of Vienna. Who knows?

    How many died in Sudan when Muslim jihadists conquered that country? How many have died in Nigeria as Muslim jihadists push their way southward in that country? How many Jews would die if the Ayatollahs get their way and commit genocide against the Jews of Israel?

    In the Hadiths is written of how Mohammed and his men conquered the Jewish village of Qurayza. It is written that Mohammed had his men behead as many as 900 men and pubescent boys creating a river of blood, and of how he had his men enslave and rape many of the women and young girls. The Hadiths are, after the Qur’an, Islam’s second most authoritative text.

    Islam is wiolent and no matter how your leftist-addled mind spins this it does not change the fact that Islam is a supremacist, misogynistic, infidel hating and conquering religion.

    • shan sam

      Religion is violent. They are responsible for the most death. All of them

      • Arafat

        The Game:Bringing other religions down to the level of Islam is a favorite tactic of apologists confronted with the spectacle of Islamic violence. Remember Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber? How about Anders Breivik, the Norwegian killer? Why pick on Islam if other religions have the same problems?
        The Truth:Because they don’t.

        Regardless of what his birth certificate may or may not have said, Timothy McVeigh was not a religious man (in fact, he stated explicitly that he was agnostic and that “science” was his religion). At no time did he credit his deeds to religion, quote Bible verses, or claim that he killed for Jesus. His motives are very well documented through interviews and research. God is never mentioned.

        The so-called “members of other faiths” alluded to by Muslims are nearly always just nominal members who have no active involvement. They are neither inspired by, nor do they credit religion as Muslim terrorists do – and this is what makes it a very different matter.

        Islam is associated with Islamic terrorism because that is the association that the terrorists themselves choose to make.

        Muslims who compare crime committed by people who happen to be nominal members of other religions to religious terror committed explicitly in the name of Islam are comparing apples to oranges.

        Yes, some of the abortion clinic bombers were religious, but consider the scope of the problem. There have been six deadly attacks over a 36 year period in the U.S. Eight people died. This is an average of one death every 4.5 years.

        By contrast, Islamic terrorists staged nearly ten thousand deadly attacks in just the six years following September 11th, 2001. If one goes back to 1971, when Muslim armies in Bangladesh began the mass slaughter of Hindus, through the years of Jihad in the Sudan, Kashmir and Algeria, and the present-day Sunni-Shia violence in Iraq, the number of innocents killed in the name of Islam probably exceeds five million over this same period.

        Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 innocents in a lone rampage on July 22nd, 2011, was originally misidentified as a “Christian fundamentalist” by the police. In fact, the killings were later determined to be politically motivated. He also left behind a detailed 1500 page manifesto in which he stated that he is not religious, does not know if God exists, and prefers a secular state to a theocracy. Needless to say, he does not quote any Bible verses in support of his killing spree, nor did he shout “praise the Lord” as he picked people off.

        In the last ten years, there have been perhaps a few dozen attacks in which death occurred by people motivated by a religion other than Islam (see GTD). Such a small handful of loners acting in isolation can legitimately be chalked up to mental illness or (at best) genuine misunderstanding.

        By contrast, Islamic terror is organized and methodical. Islamist groups span the globe with tens of thousands of dedicated members, despite intensely targeted counter-measures, and supporters numbering in the tens of millions. They are open about their religious goals and they kill in the name of god each and every day of the year. Verses in their holy texts arguably support them. There are none who will even debate them.

        No other religion is doing this. So while some Muslims may pretend that other religions are just as prone to “misinterpretation” as is their “perfect” one, reality says otherwise

      • Man with Axe

        This is not true. Religion was not responsible for WWII, WWI, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the US Civil War, the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution and Cultural Revolution, the invasions of Genghis Khan, Attilla the Hun, the slave trade, and so on.

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