I’m up to my eyeballs in privilege. The only way I could have more privilege is if I were taller, thinner, younger, and not so Jewish.
Marginalized people complain that they get labeled. I get it. No one likes to be labeled. Not even people swimming in privilege.
That’s why I’m not an “ally”.
I empathize, sympathize, and support your cause. It’s not easy being who you are. Despite the reading that I’ve done, the conferences I’ve attended, the conversations I’ve had, I’ll never really know what it’s like to be you. Even though I can catalog all the obstacles you face, from being harassed on the street, being followed in stores, being arrested for engaging in your livelihood, I won’t ever know what it’s like to be you.
I know it’s not your job to educate me. That’s why I read as widely as I can. I admit that my interest fades out at the edges where your internal disagreements live. I use the words you prefer to the ones I grew up with, to the ones that people who aren’t aligned with you use. It’s confusing because sometimes you use those terms yourself. And I get it. You’re re-appropriating those words. You can use them, and I can’t. I get it. Really.
But this word, “ally”? No thank you. Please don’t call me that. It’s not a word I use, not a word I would have chosen.
I’m not looking for special treatment. I know that just because I support your cause, I’m not entitled to a friends and family discount, to attend your gatherings, to discuss the state of things in your culture. My job is to cheer when your rights are affirmed, rally when your safety is secured, celebrate when your work is decriminalized.
My job, as you’ve told me so many times, is to listen.
So that’s what I am: a listener. You can call me that. Don’t call me an ally.
Even if you hear me using it among my friends.
Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, 1970s
Before there was Pamela Anderson, there was Lynda Carter.