Content Disclaimer: This article deals with assaults on minorities and includes photos of race riots.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, January 6, 2021, millions of people around the world watched the news and watched in horror as self-identified neo-Nazis and supporters of President Trump walked past and vandalized the Capitol building in the aim to obstruct election results.
Many black, brown, native and Jewish Americans could only think of how this reflected the recent wave of violence against their communities. As protests of solidarity with the insurgency unfolded across the country, many members of marginalized communities remained at home fearing for their safety. Many turned to self-identified white allies to use their voices and privileges to defend their rights and security, but they remained disappointed with the results.
This lack of support was best seen on Tik Tok where several viral videos, now deleted, showed white liberals dancing in front of thousands of right-wing marchers. In the following days, the liberal creators of Tik Tok joked about their label of “national terrorists” calling them “Y’all Qaeda” and “Vanilla ISIS”.
Lilah Gaber, an Egyptian-American student and content creator, criticized these content creators, saying they used dangerous labels and anti-Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Islamophobic tropes.
“I hate that stuff, you all realize that when you do this you only reinforce the idea that acts of violence and ‘terror’ are a uniquely Islamic or MENA phenomenon,” Gaber said.
And other communities were also disappointed. Ora Lacob is an Orthodox Jewish content creator who fights anti-Semitism through comedy and education. Lacob and many other visibly Jewish youth called on white allies with large social media platforms to stand up for the Jewish community, but she found the results mediocre.
“Due to the extreme rise in anti-Semitism, Jews have been extremely vocal about anti-Semitism. Many white activists that I see who defend other minorities, in a way that seems almost performative, will not recognize anti-Semitism, ”Lacob said. “They will use the Nazis and the Holocaust for comparisons and analogies, but will never recognize modern anti-Semitism. They will also not understand how insensitive it is to associate every person and politician with whom they disagree with the Nazis, as Jews have repeatedly asked not to make such comparisons as it lessens the seriousness of the ‘event itself.
Leila Farhi, a junior from Carlmont who identifies as Afro-indigenous, Puerto Rican and Moroccan, had similar feelings. After Trump’s election in 2016, Farhi became hyper aware of the negative effects of the White Alliance.
“I think, on the one hand, there are allies who are ready to use their voices to raise the voices of minorities, but on the other hand, I also feel that there is a great part of the white allies who speak above the voices of minorities or spread false or harmful information, “said Farhi.” From my personal experience, I find that the white alliance has been more harmful than helpful. I find myself constantly invalidated by white “allies” who have nothing to say about who I am. On top of that, I think many white allies have confused performative activism with true long-term activism. “
Gaber, Lacob and Farhi do not pass for white Christians. However, they live in areas dominated by white Christians, making them visible targets for hatred. In 2019, the FBI released data showing 7,000 hate crimes that took place that year, many of which are homicides and assaults. In 2020, hate crimes based on race and religion peaked in 12 years, with legal groups claiming only 10-20% of crimes are even reported to law enforcement. With a lack of defense and this outbreak of violence, young people are calling on their own communities to stand by and stand up for them.
One such person is Eliza Crouse, a high school student from southwest Michigan of Palestinian Jewish descent. Since Trump’s election, where a 1600% spike in hate crimes took place, Crouse has been branded as anti-Semitic and anti-MENA insults, despite being white. She criticized the white allies for not supporting her and the other BIPOCs, when it seemed embarrassing to them.
“I have noticed that the white allies don’t listen enough. Some have a savior complex and are so proud of themselves for having ‘educated themselves’ that they don’t stop to listen and amplify the marginalized voices they claim to support or, they just speak above. of marginalized groups like we can’t speak for ourselves, ”Crouse said. “Others claim to be allies and are quite performative and only speak out on issues if they are fashionable. It’s really frustrating because we don’t have time to deal with white guilt. If you are going to support us, do so unconditionally. If someone calls out to you, don’t give up all your activism, learn, grow and do better. “
Crouse observed that although most allies identify politically as liberal or more on the left, they value their analysis over her own experiences and end up enlightening her and her friends.
“As a white person myself, I have also seen allies being openly racist towards me because they don’t know my ethnicity and think so because I am a white person. I am a “safe space” to be ignorant of. It’s really disheartening because it’s not uncommon. Asking the tough questions is tough and courageous, but when some white “allies” have told me “Arabs are abusive terrorists” to my face, it exposes the intentions of some people. “
There was a broad consensus among marginalized youth that many whites who call themselves allies refuse to unlearn racist prejudice, speak up instead of amplifying their voices, and end up enlightening the communities they are meant to help.
However, it was unanimously recognized that the alliance of whites and that whites work hard is an essential step in ending racism and bringing equality.
“I would really like to urge white allies to make sure that they don’t speak over the voices of the people you are trying to support and that they also don’t be an ally just to try to ‘prove that you are a good person, but to be an ally because you are really fighting for the same things that we are, ”said Farhi. “Check your performative activism, keep listening to the voices of BIPOC. Overall, just make sure your activism is a lifelong process, not just a phase ”,
Crouse reiterated his belief that allies who identify themselves should not have to feel affected by white supremacy or believe they are saviors to fight white supremacist constructs.
“Stay informed, stay educated. Acknowledge your privilege. Even if you don’t understand another person’s biases, you don’t ask them if it is “really” racist. If you’re an ally, you’re going to support them, ”Crouse said.