I felt that I should discuss the white ally. Beyond that, I should discuss my history with whiteness as it is intriguing and has changes that some of you may be familiar with. However, I'm going to try to use this as more of a perspective on the people around me rather than my journey.
Anyways, we will begin with San Diego.
In San Diego, my definitions of racial differences was exploratory (why is my hair curly? why are their eyes blue?) rather than any true demarcations of race. My white friends at this time could be considered allies because they simply supported me without hesitation. When you think of the history of this country, in the past, I would not have been able to interact with many of the white people I did when I was younger. They are both friends and allies for simply having an understanding of us as equal peers. My elementary was diverse so nobody felt they were above anyone else - race or gender-wise. In middle school; however, the lines would be defined as many other people had different exposure to the world compared to me. While most of the white people were in support of me, it would be Latinos who would call out Black differences more often (Why don't I ball? I'm intelligent for a Black guy and more). I think one other note is that many white adults were supportive of me throughout my childhood and adolescence. Every white teacher I had was extremely supportive -minus this Swedish lady who was evil-of me and any student of any race so in essence they were almost all allies in developing my intelligence.
As I began to notice racial differences, I would attempt to be involved in less concepts of whiteness by sometimes causing conflict with white people who were really supportive of me. It's unfortunate that I realize this now because while many white people (and some Black people) don't know how to be an activist many were without me knowing it. At the same time, the story of how I couldn't relate in high school to Blackness has been told, I continued to hang out with white people who had no commentary on my racial differences.
Then came Los Angeles and a difference in viewpoints.
In Los Angeles, the professors were still allies, but now the students were more polarizing. There were a few allies, specifically around Troy Camp or other organizations who supported the kids and local community. However, many of the white people who I simply hung out with as business or film majors were associates and nearly all the other white people I met in college were not allies. If you think about the WASPiness of who goes to USC, a good chunk of the people are Southern Californians or people from other regions of the US who never interacted with people of color and therefore saw me as a commodity. This also occurred in my alternative life in which I was seen as some obtainable chocolate prize. It demeaned and fetishized me to a sense that as I reflect on it later made me realize they were not allies. This in turn made me only want to celebrate with Black people in that community -thanks Atlanta and New York. I would not truly see allies again until Teach for America Houston.
Within Houston, many of the people I encountered were allies.
I didn't meet to many white people outside of TFA when I was in Houston. Most of the people I met in that city were either Black or part of the alternative lifestyle and my main friend in that community during that time was Black so I wasn't seen as trophy/goal like I was in LA. However, my fellow white teachers and TFAers were huge allies because they worked harder than me sometimes to make Black and Brown students succeed in Houston. As such, I am still friends with these people as I feel they are true allies. There were occasional ones in San Diego, not many at all in LA (which is why they've disappeared from my life), and a good amount in Houston. While Atlanta had none due to me almost distinctly only hanging out with Black people when I was there, NYC would be a mixed bag.
NYC is a clash of the most racist and greatest allies ever.
Some of the people in my first, second and third schools in NYC (yes I hop around a lot) were wonderful allies. And even though we have differences in how much we meet, I still find them people who are willing to go to the distance and are always supportive of my ideals. At the same time, I've encountered more people here who are so far removed from allies that might as well be racists who are against my well being. It's an odd state to be when you are both supposed to be educating young Black and Brown lives. As such, the confusion of what is an ally is hard to determine here.
In the end, I think like most aspects in life, allies have a sliding scale. This could range from liking posts that are critical of white privilege and sharing a post about the issues that a company had with women or a member of the gay community to changing policies to limit racist police practices. I think of all us need to recognize that there are allies out there and even I know some. They may not be throwing down as hard as me, but they still have our back if you can find them. The rarest ones are definitely still needed and I often have to remind myself that whiteness is not anti-Blackness even when I get in a mood. Thank you allies and stay vigilant brothers and sisters.