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Let Us Now Praise ‘White Allies’

Is there is always some hideous aspect to white allyship? An appalling specular instinct? A need to experience ourselves as being seen through the eyes of others?

Sure isn’t a ton of evidence to the contrary. Consider the surging narcissism it takes to write those words: praised me.

Those words come from the ancient, fetid reservoir of attitudes and convictions somewhere deep inside the white ally. “White ally”. Seal it between scare quotes whenever referring to any one of us. Feel about us as you would an approaching flock of ragged vultures, flapping and colliding with one another in our rush to feed. Repeatedly inform us that our allyship is regarded as being one-hundred percent provisional and that we should probably go ahead and keep our coats on because there is every reason to believe that it is just a matter of time until one of us casually utters a phrase like “praised me” to—and about—black people.

Our fuck up quotient in this space is in a class all its own. It has been for centuries. And eventually, despite all the solemn avowals and heartfelt assurances of us being Not Like That, a bubble from the bed of the ancient swamp rises up and breaks on the surface like a sulfurous belch for everyone to see. I really just can’t get over all you blacks and how you used to praise me… It’s amazing how so very loved I once was by all of you.

What Gabriel so luridly demonstrates is that if you give us an inch we will make it our business to moralize about the movement and the psychologies of those in it. Let us perceive ourselves as having suffered the smallest of slights and we will declare the movement to have gone completely astray from the path of righteousness it once was on. We will whimper and agonize about how we were so badly abused and make pious attempts to steer the movement back onto its supposedly true course, which it seems is only ‘true’ insofar as it is fulfilling whatever wretched need(s) we may obscenely demand of it; only ‘true’ insofar as the likes and retweets and comments make us feel like we are the master-signifier; as long as they feed into the idea of ourselves as a fixed exemplar. If you let us carry on with that for too long, we will just create monsters.

And so may the banishment of whites who cannot slaughter their revolting need for adulation in the movement be swift, merciless and permanent. May we work to hasten their excommunication at the very first indication that they are here leeching online to ask ADOS for signs of their favor and not to ask them only how we fit into their political project. And may I—please God—be summarily purged if I ever begin interpreting myself as being ‘praised’ by the people in this space, people who deserve so much better than having a white person who is here because of some nameless, listless, attention-seeking boredom and who pats himself on the back for just doing the obviously right thing. Be sure of one thing about the person who talks like Gabriel: they are using this space to have you construct for them an idol of themselves, and that aim towers over any other goal.

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