On Organizing While White, and What it Means to Be an “Ally”

By Carlo

January 15, 2020

Approaching organizing can be a strange and awkward task for newly radicalized white men in predominantly non-white spaces. To those without experience, it may seem difficult to assess your place in assisting mass organizations lead by people of color, non hetero-normative people, and non-binary folks. This awkwardness can often be due to contradictions in social standing, differences from where you come from and where you are, or presumptions by white men when approaching non-white organizers for the opportunity to work with them. There are several dangerous presumptions that radical white men can have, but the two that are most damaging to building trust are the presumption of status, and presumption that a sense of urgency allows a shortcut. These contradictions arise from internal assumptions that must be struggled against in hopes of developing mutual respect and friendship with others in order to advance shared anti-capitalist goals in these organizations.

Organizing for revolution requires cooperation and solidarity among different factions in the masses. As Mao once said in a 1943 speech called “Get Organized,” “we communists must be able to integrate ourselves with the masses in all things”, and that is true for all manner of organizations struggling against capitalism. Among the masses of the so-called “USA” (known by the natives as Turtle Island, Anahuac, Aztlan, etc.), Black/ New Afrikan organizations have been leading the fight against capitalism, patriarchy, racism, and all other forms of unethical and unjustly oppressive hierarchies.

One presumption I have made in the past is that my position was far more important and necessary than the reality implied. Approaching a Black organization, organized for the advancement for Black people particularly, white men ought to try and recognize the role an ally to the movement can play, and the primary “goal” that communists should strive for. We are first and foremost servants of the people, and only operative of their interests. Acknowledge this, often as you need to, and allow the people to instruct you on what the next steps will be, because revolutionary advancements will be made by them behind the wheel. It isn’t in your power to develop the right and proper proletarian line. The future movement will develop through the resolution of societal contradictions, and we radical white men can either help the oppressed masses, or get out of their way.

Another harmful assumption, that has made me look foolish in the past, is that urgency allows for shortcuts in the trust and friendship building process. Your sense of urgency doesn’t negate the requirement of mutual respect, honest communication, and an open mind. These are necessary steps to fostering trust and confidence necessary to become an ally of the organization in question and to serve the people’s revolution in a broader sense. Friendship is not only a fulfilling, life affirming choice, it is vital for organizational integrity. If the people in the organization do not trust you, you will not just miss out on a chance to organize, you will miss the chance to learn and better yourself through the understanding of real life proletarian ideology.

Imposing your analysis unprompted can be seen as grabbing for the helm; its impact is counter intuitive. There are no shortcuts for performing your duties as an ally or member diligently in the organization; cutting your teeth, and pulling up a chair to listen. No dialectical engagement is one sided, and you must trust that others will listen to you as you learn from them, but understand also that you have less to teach than you have presumed. Because in the fight against capitalism’s repugnant children, racism and white supremacy, Black and Brown organizing has lead the war. To combat white supremacy, Black and Brown ideas must be promoted with greater fervor and assiduousness to combat the efforts of the bourgeois state and the bourgeois class allies in society.

Solidarity must mean more than well wishes, and allies have a role in the black liberation struggle when invited by members of the Black/New Afrikan organizations that wage the struggle. However, acknowledging that white men’s role is not the vanguard of the struggle is crucial to developing the good relations necessary for the development of the greater revolutionary movement. Humble yourself, or be humbled by the inexorable march of progress towards true freedom and absolute liberty.

Long Live the People’s Revolution!
Solidarity to ALL Oppressed Classes!