Scripps Community of Resource and Empowerment (SCORE) held Becoming an Ally Week from Monday to today. The week included workshops, lectures and documentaries around the Scripps College campus to encourage 5C students to act as allies to the queer community.
“[There is a] disconnect that seems to exist between the 5Cs’ definition of ‘ally’ and the definition provided by queer community groups on the campuses, such as the QRC of the Claremont Colleges and Family, the Queer/Straight Alliance at Scripps,” Savannah Mora SC ’15 said.
Mora, Emily Hampshire SC ‘15 and Hera Razvi SC ’15 are creating a project as an extension to “Becoming an Ally Week” for their American Politics class to define the term ‘ally.’
“[I] challenge the definition of an ‘ally’ as a noun, a word meant to describe a person who recognizes privilege and states that [people] are in support of a marginalized group,” Hampshire said. “Perceiving an ally in this way fails to challenge the boundary held between the ally and the marginalized group and in fact can maintain and reproduce structures of privilege without questioning where and why that privilege arises in the first place. The word ‘ally’ must be taken as a verb; it is inextricable from action.”
On Monday, Scripps gender and women’s studies professor Chris Guzaitis gave a speech on “Complicating Allyship,” which challenged the perception of what it is to be an ally.
“Your allyship is not about being accepted to certain groups,” Guzaitis said. “Think about why you do ally work. Are you trying to challenge dominant ideologies? How would you respond to people not asking you to participate in certain activities?”
“Within this country, there are certain lives that are rendered not worth living,” she said. “The [LGBT] community is often the target of much discrimination, and these people don’t come out easily for help. We must help people live a variety of ways. We need to make sure that everyone has a life worth living.”
On Tuesday, the Queer Resource Center (QRC) provided LGBT Safe Zone Training for faculty, staff and students.
“Attending events this week has already changed my own understanding of myself as an ally,” Hampshire said. “It is great to see ideas overlap between my academic and theoretical understandings and the practical applications that are being taught in the workshops.”
On Wednesday, Yuka Ogino, SCORE coordinator, and Marla Love, Assistant Dean of Students/SCORE at Scripps, discussed racial equity activist Scot Nakagawa’s article “Why I, an Asian Man, Fight Anti-Black Racism.” Ogino and Love examined how hierarchies of oppressions are created and how these systems act as foundations for racism. Additionally, Jamie Kammerman-Watson, Student Activities Director at Scripps, presented the documentary Making Whiteness Visible and gave a workshop on the development of the white identity and the cycle of socialization.
Hampshire said that she has learned that in order to be an ally, one must actively “work to dismantle systems that reproduce privilege or boundaries between ‘marginalized’ and ‘dominant’ groups.”
On Thursday, gender and women’s studies professor Piya Chatterjee spoke about the paradoxes of privilege by exploring the unequal intersectionalities of racism, classism, heterosexism, nationalism and ableism. Today, Pomona College Associate Dean of Students Daren Mooko will give a workshop on how to become an ally within communities of color. Victoria Rafus-Verlezza, SCORE Program Coordinator and organizer of Becoming an Ally Week, will also discuss the challenges of being an ally.
“This week is very important, because we have to promote being allies,” Rafus-Verlezza said. “We cannot just be tolerant of minority groups. We cannot only agree upon difference. We must do tangible things and transform our ideas into actions. My goal is to let people understand what allyship is and isn’t, and what we can do as allies.”