Merrily Orsini's Thought Leadership

Moving From Ally to Accomplice

 

Social injustice

Social injustice will only be realized when we are immersed in the issues

“An ally will mostly engage in activism by standing with an individual or group in a marginalized community. An accomplice will focus more on dismantling the structures that oppress that individual or group—and such work will be directed by the stakeholders in the marginalized group. Simply, ally work focuses on individuals, and accomplice work focuses on the structures of decision-making agency.”

This week as our world is still reeling from the COVID-19 ravages, we as a nation have been faced with the death of George Floyd and the inequities that remain in our lives for those of color, and, those of marginalized groups in general. For my entire life, I have felt a need and a calling to be inclusive and to understand those who have differing views from mine. However, this week has made me strive for some positive things I can do, for some actions that I can take to help us realize that we have to have substantive change in our social order.

Yesterday, while in a painful and deep discussion with Deborah Czeresko, the winner of the Netflix “Blown Away” series that is a reality show about glassblowing, I realized that I have been an ally, but now I need to become an accomplice for social justice. Deborah has been a part of a marginalized community within the glass world. She is female. She is queer. She is talented. She is smart. She is white, however, so she and I both realized that we can never walk that mile in someone’s shoes. We can, however, become involved moving another step into the process by being an accomplice in social change and social justice, and not just an ally with those who are marginalized. That move from ally to accomplice resonates with me as a way to understand how to rethink what we as white privileged people really need to understand. We must find ways to dismantle the system that has allowed for so long the racism to exist in our society.

My heart goes out to those who have lost family and friends because they are black and have dared to travel in a white world through jogging, having a broken tail light, watching birds in Central Park, sleeping in their own bedrooms, and the list goes on. To keep the peace within my sphere I have not served as an accomplice and have not spoken up when it was easier to stay silent. I pledge to you that I will rethink how I approach social injustices and racism to strive to be an accomplice in a movement that I thought, honestly, we had moved beyond. I understand how tiring it must be to continue to fight for basic equality for SO long.

So, in these times that are so terrible it is hard to imagine anything worse, think of what it must be like to be poor, to be of color, to be held down by something not of your making, and think to yourself, before talking or acting, if I were an accomplice to eradicating social injustice, how would I behave? What would I do?

 

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