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Allyship…or How to Try and Not F**k Up

Author’s Note: These are my thoughts on how to construct a roundtable I’m working on for this weekend.  Please, any constructive feedback is welcome.

I’m white. I grew up in a middle class family and according to the Census Bureau I am clearly middle class now.  I have an advanced education.  I am very privileged.  Let’s just start with that.  My experiences with oppression are minimal compared to others, though I do deal with the misogyny and those struggles with being a member of alternative/queer community.

What is an ally?

Well, Funk and Wagnalls tells us this about allies as a noun.  “An ally is a state or ruler leagued with another by treaty; an associate; a kinsman (kinsperson).”

Dr. Frances Kendall  tells us that an ally is someone who “work(s) continuously to develop an understanding of the personal and institutional experiences of the person or people with whom they are aligning themselves.” 

Both of these definitions require the acknowledgement of privilege.  Most of us in the community to which I plan to speak understand what privilege means.  That it is not something we gained or earned, it is not something to feel guilt about, but it is integral to understand that we have it and others do not.  It is something to be checked and checked continuously.

What does allyship mean?

For me, allyship means several things:

1. Aligning oneself with those who do not have privileges that I enjoy.

2. Attempt to focus one’s attention on acknowledging this privilege.

3. Take steps to focus society towards making these privileges as rights that all people enjoy.

4. Call out microaggressive behavior when one is in the presence of it and acknowledge when one has been the perpetrator of it.


Can anyone just be an ally?

Well, no.  Ally is a term given.  It is earned. Just like other terms of integrity and honor, allyship is something that is something one must continually strive to achieve.  For instance, Tim Wise is one of many white allies who acknowledge white supremacist misogynistic society and yet, often winds up speaking over those with marginalized experiences rather than shutting up and listening.  In other words, don’t speak to hear yourself talk about how awesome you are. (Yes, I get the irony of my post here and my calling out of Wise.)  I have (hopefully) learned that I can be racist, I can be homophobic, I can be misogynistic even as I strive to be an ally..

Which brings us to microaggressions…

Dr. Sue at Fordham University is one of the foremost experts on microaggressions.  You can read about his work here.  I’d like to use this roundtable to discuss what microaggressions are and listen to the experiences of those of us who have been both perpetrators and victims.

What happens when I’m a perpetrator?

1. Acknowledge this has happened.  Do not get defensive when someone expresses their offense.  This is not the fucking political correctness police, this is a person…a human giving you an opportunity to give love, understanding and education.

2. Apologize. It’s okay to say your sorry.  “Love means never having to say your sorry…” No. Love means saying you’re sorry when you are wrong because of love.

3. Listen. Hear the person you have been aggressive towards.  Really take a moment to understand that you have hurt them and why they feel hurt.

4. Make a pledge to do better.  Love is about change.  Love is not stagnant.  Love is working to be a better you.  I have done it.  You have done it.  We are not perfect.  We can say, “I fucked up.  I am sorry.  I will be mindful  and try my best to do better going forward.”  The basis of scientific knowledge is admitting we don’t know.  That’s okay.  When you know better, you do better. 
Just make sure you do.
5. Lastly, forgive yourself.  Intent matters, but positive intent does not equal positive outcomes.  Do your community a favor and leave the white/male/privileged guilt at the door.  It is not helpful to make it about you.  It is helpful to make it about serving others.
Open for questions and discussion.
Okay, go!











Written by thelittlepecan

June 2, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Posted in atheism


Shitty compassion
Sleeping on the couch: sad face
Being wrong the pits

Written by thelittlepecan

May 31, 2014 at 12:57 am

Posted in atheism


Compassion firefly
Give yourself over to it
Or fuck it up, sigh

Written by thelittlepecan

May 31, 2014 at 12:52 am

Posted in atheism

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,600 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 60 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Written by thelittlepecan

December 31, 2013 at 10:04 am

Posted in atheism

I Don’t Ever Want to Forget This Moment

Dear Mrs. Pecan,
I am a dual enrollment student, so I am now approaching the time to be submitting applications for colleges. I am currently in the process of completing my application for the University of North Carolina. I was wondering if you would be willing to write me a letter of recommendation to supplement my application.

I have chosen UNC as my first choice because of its outstanding sociology department, which I would not have been interested in without your guidance. Your class has opened my eyes to a world of social injustice and to the idea that there are factors that are out of control that determine a person’s social lot in life. I want to pursue a degree in sociology, and use that degree to make a difference in the life of others. Since you were the driving factor in my choice to pursue such a degree, I think you would be the perfect person to write this recommendation for me.
If you are willing to write this letter, I would greatly appreciate it if you could submit it to the common application program, for which I will send you the link, and also produce a few hard copies enclosed in an official envelope to conserve confidentiality.

Whether or not you choose to write a recommendation for me, I still thank you for the incredible experience I have gained from your class. I have learned more than I ever thought, and the things I have learned have inspired me to want to make a difference in society in whatever way I am capable. For that I am extremely thankful.
Thank you,
Amazing Student

Dear Student,
Fuck all, you made me cry. Where’s my damn pen?

Mrs. Pecan

Written by thelittlepecan

November 22, 2013 at 12:44 am

Posted in atheism

Out of the Mouths of (MY) Babes #Trans #Queer #LGBTQ

Sometimes…a lot of times…I think I am an awful parent.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am not one of those moms who lives for her children.  I am Pecan first, Penguin second, Mom third. My identity is really important to me.  In many ways that makes me act selfishly and I carry a hefty amount of guilt related to that for not being good enough as a mother.


Then, yesterday happens.


I had a friend come and speak to one of my classes about gender identity/discrimination/equality.  Class went great.  Hurray! No sweat and no surprise because my students are awesome.


What I didn’t expect was my children’s ability to grasp the exact same concepts without the benefit/burden of lecture, but just because apparently Jim and I do not suck as parents.


We watched Valentine Road.  Get on that. Seriously.


My friend who is trans* watched it with us.  We do “family night” where we watch educational material about equality and social justice issues and then we talk about them.


My sons were amazing. 


“Gender identity”


“Be who you are”


“Stand up for your friends”


“How is that not a hate crime?”

“He was taught to hate someone…and that’s wrong”


These are just a fraction of some of the things that came out of the mouths of my 11, 13 and 14 year olds.


Just a fraction.


They couldn’t have cared less about his gender identity and would never had known if we hadn’t had a discussion about it, they just loved having him over. But, they know that they know someone and they understand that makes their world bigger and better.


I saw more empathy from these boys than I have seen in a long time and it couldn’t have been more serendipitous.


I am grateful for so many things today.

Written by thelittlepecan

November 19, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Posted in atheism

Things I Did Not Respond to on Facebook Today

I decided, with some trepidation, to return to Facebook.  I have some rules for myself, though.  One is to not get involved in religious, political or otherwise contentious pissing contests.  In an effort to maintain my sanity, I’m going to try out a series whereby I passive-aggressively respond to the ridiculousness I see there here. That way, I can have my say and not burn down relationships with people I love.

Episode 1:

Well, at least they don’t list Mary Magdalene as a whore. I’m unsure why we would consider those who are short, have speech-impediments, are skeptical, drink or are aging to be imperfect.  It’s rife with all the -isms.  It also misses a golden opportunity to scream HYPOCRITE! to about 10 people who I’ve seen post this.

As a fat girl myself, I’m all for body/sex/fat positive stuff.  But that isn’t all a scale is telling you.  Especially since your “relationship” (mine is rather complicated, as evidenced by all my bruising.  Hey! come to think of it, I haven’t fallen down in a while) with gravity isn’t constant (see the moon) and your body fat percentage is what it is no matter what celestial body you happen to inhabit.

Dear people of the car rider line…your child shouldn’t need a teacher to open their door to get out of the car. SHOULD your child require this…park yo butt and stop holding the line up!

All the abelism…all of it.

and my favorite

Well, let’s talk about this…

2/3 of those who receive state benefits are children, the elderly and the disabled.  Another portion include veterans and the currently enlisted and their families.

Several studies, including a 1996 report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, have found that there is no significant difference in the rate of illegal-drug use by welfare applicants and other people. Another study found that 70% of illegal-drug users between the age of 18 and 49 are employed full time.

Because poor people can’t afford drugs.
They drink.
A Florida television station, WFTV, reported that of the first 40 applicants tested, only two came up positive, and one of those was appealing. The state stands to save less than $240 a month if it denies benefits to the two applicants, but it had to pay $1,140 to the applicants who tested negative. The state will also have to spend considerably more to defend the policy in court.

And it’s unconstitutional because you have to have probably cause to search someone, it  can’t be preemptive.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the majority, said that the drug testing was an unreasonable search. The state can impose drug tests in exceptional cases, when there is a public-safety need for them (as with bus and train operators, for instance). But the Fourth Amendment does not allow the state to diminish “personal privacy for a symbol’s sake,” the court said.

“The simple fact of seeking public assistance does not deprive a TANF applicant of the same constitutional protection from unreasonable searches that all other citizens enjoy,” the court held.
And for more
The reason your employer can make you take a drug test is because they are not the government and they are not bound by the Fourth Amendment. Don’t like being drug tested by your employer? Form a union and put it in the union contract that your employer cannot drug test you without probable cause. To simplify this, the government cannot search your person (peeing in a cup is searching your person) without probable cause. Being poor is not probable cause. Your employer has a fairly wide latitude of things that it can require as a condition of employment.
and this
Fact one, drug testing by the government without probable cause is in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Fact two, in the studies done so far, there is no benefit to performing these drug tests. Fact three, your employer is not the government and is not bound by the Fourth Amendment. Fact four, drug abuse is not just restricted to the poor. It goes across all social classes, and just because the poor have no voice does not mean that they can be made into scapegoats.
Thanks for reading and more coming soon…

Written by thelittlepecan

November 6, 2013 at 11:35 am