Monday, September 28, 2020

Yom Kippur 2020/5781 - A Good Time to Learn the Difference Between an Ally and an Accomplice

I found the photo of this great mural at the website Uncustomary here.

The ten days of and between the Jewish High Holidays, Rosh Ha Shana (the Jewish New Year, which happened on September 18) and Yom Yippur (today) have at their core both introspection and resolve.

Introspection, as in how did I do as a human being in the past year? Making amends for any mis-steps, and then Resolve, as in I'm going to do better – be better – this year.

For me, so much of that renewing surrounding the Jewish New Year, of aiming to be a better person annually, is based on a desire and a curiosity to always learn more. Understand more. 

So today I'd like to share this article, "Ally or Accomplice? The Language of Activism" by Colleen Clemens from the Teaching Tolerance website.

When I first heard the term "Accomplice" it made me think about how homosexuality and gender non-conformity have for generations been made illegal and prosecuted as crimes, and my initial discomfort was based in that paradigm, as if using the term would be buying in to the hundreds of years of criminalization of marginalized groups, including Black people, people of Native nations, people of color, disabled people, women, and my own Queer community.

But I've been reading up on it, and Colleen's article on the distinction between "Ally" and "Accomplice" was really helpful in my re-imagining the term "Accomplice":

"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."

A sign at a protest this summer really spoke to me. It said: 

 "Use white privilege to dismantle white privilege" 

And I think that's what the term "Accomplice" is aiming for.

So here's to a year of being better Allies, and Accomplices, to make our world a better place. In Hebrew, there's this ideal of action called "Tikkun Olam" which translates as "Healing the World."

We have work to do.

If you can vote, VOTE. Raise your voice. Be there for individuals as an Ally. And join in on the work of creating systemic change as an Accomplice.

And let's heal our world. Together.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,


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