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May 8, 2012

What does allyship have to do with psychonautics?

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 10:02 am

Allyship is the art of learning how to appreciate being told to fuck off. Allyship is also about having meaningful relationships with individual people, not with groups or populations or abstract ideas of people. It stands to reason, then, that perhaps the crux of allyship is learning how to appreciate being told to fuck off by individual people with whom you are in meaningful relationships.

Which is why I think that, when people talk about “being allies,” we mostly have no idea what we’re getting ourselves into. Because that particular piece of work is ridiculously challenging for most folks, myself included. “Radical activist” scene rhetorics are prone to treating allyship like a list of behaviors that can be applied to social situations using a fairly broad brush, with a contextual tweak here and there. But allyship is an cognitive and emotional project that is so much harder than just keeping up with the latest fashions in language, or reblogging the right things on Tumblr, or even being self-educated, informed, thoughtful and courteous to everyone you meet all the time. (Although all those things can be a part of a process, for sure.)

Allyship requires not just a critical or radically resistant but, in fact, a traitorous orientation toward the very System of beliefs and concepts that tell us about our identities. It is deeply painful to sit with the realization that, as someone with certain privileged identities that are rooted in structures of domination, people I love really can be hurt and damaged not only by things I do but simply by things about who I am. It’s even harder to give up defending those aspects of myself, especially if they feel like aspects that define me. Learning to welcome being told, “Fuck off. I hate you. No, really, I hate YOU!” by the people we love most — learning to listen to what that actually means for them; and it will mean something different for every individual and in each situation — requires, I suspect, some serious ego destruction.

Which is why allyship can’t just be an intellectual process or even an emotional process. I suspect that allyship necessitates — or, at the very least, is strongly supported by — a mutually interdependent relationship with some form of meditation or other psychonautical practice (or several) aimed toward dissolving the experience of a unitary and consistent selfhood.

Allyship, in other words, is not just a political stance; it is a mind-altering experience — and it’s the kind you can’t come back from. So, while it remains a life’s mission of mine to facilitate deeper and more genuine allyship in the world around me, I also want to remain mindful the ways in which this thing I’m asking people and myself to do is a big fucking deal. This doesn’t mean not doing it. Not for a second. It just means taking it seriously and taking very good care of ourselves and each other while we do.

In short: If I’m conscientious about how I construct the psycho-emotional space in which I trip mushrooms, I should be ten times as conscientious about how I construct the psycho-emotional space in which I practice allyship. ‘Cause I might only be on boomers for the next eight hours. I’m hopefully gonna be doing allyship — by which I mean I’m hopefully going to be consciously working on having the backs of the people I love — for the rest of my life.

ETA: I want to be clear that, when I talk about “welcoming being told to fuck off”, I’m not advocating a sort of “enlightened” Teflon detachment where we don’t feel hurt when people we love reject us. There’s a danger of this sort of, “Your feelings are about you, not about me” attitude that can be incredibly patronizing. If someone who lacks privileges you have tells you that your privileges are hurting them, that is absolutely about you. And if they’re expressing that in an angry way, it’s likely because they want you to feel something. So, for god’s sake, feel something. This is someone you love. What I’m advocating is not letting those feelings turn into beliefs about the person, yourself, or your relationship that block you from being able to hear what they’re actually trying to say. ‘Cause what they’re actually trying to say might be life or death.

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3 Comments »

  1. I laughed when I read the first line šŸ™‚ I really enjoyed this post.

    Comment by camgal — May 8, 2012 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

    • Thanks! šŸ™‚

      Comment by thirdxlucky — May 26, 2012 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

  2. […] from money, to social accolades, to a self-gratifying self-image are all benefits—than growing personally meaningful, mutually beneficial, and autonomous relationships with individual hum…. But the whole fucking point of “social justice” is supporting individuals (not […]

    Pingback by Complicity with Abuse: 101-level Information Social Justice Hobbyists are Dangerously Ignorant Of « Maybe Maimed but Never Harmed — December 1, 2013 @ 7:41 pm | Reply


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