e67 wanna be an ally

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e67 wanna be an ally is a reading of the poem ‘wanna be an ally’ from Towards Braiding by Elwood Jimmy and Vanessa Andreotti written in collaboration with Sharon Stein and published by the Musagetes Foundation. Used with authors’ permission.

Transcription of monologue

conscient podcast, episode 67, ‘wanna be an ally’ I’ve been thinking about decolonization and reconciliation and other issues in our relations with indigenous communities. I was reading a text the other day that really affected me positively but also emotionally and I wanted to read it to you. If you remember last episode, I talked about the idea of radical listening. Well, this is a type of radical listening in the sense that each of these words are, I think very meaningful and important for us all to consider. It’s from a document called Towards Braiding by Elwood Jimmy and Vanessa. Andreotti written in collaboration with Sharon Stein and it’s published by the Musagetes Foundation. I’d like to start by thanking them all for this a very important document that essentially talks about how to and proposes how to engage indigenous and non-indigenous relations in an institutional setting and, principles and methods, to consider. It’s very well-written and I recommend a strongly as something to read and something to do, but for now, I’ll just read this poem, on page 39 of the document and, and leave it at that for today because, it’s already a lot to consider and as we listen more radically, that means just sitting back and listening with our full attention and openness of mind. So here it is.

  • don’t do it for charity, for feeling good, for looking good, or for showing others that you are doing good 
  • don’t do it in exchange for redemption from guilt, for increasing your virtue, for appeasing your shame, for a vanity award 
  • don’t put it on your CV, or on Facebook, or in your thesis, don’t make it part of your brand, don’t use it for self-promotion 
  • don’t do it as an excuse to keep your privileges, to justify your position, to do everything except what would be actually needed to change the terms of our relationship 
  • do it only if you feel that our pasts, presents and futures are intertwined, and our bodies and spirits entangled 
  • do it only if you sense that we are one metabolism that is sick, and what happens to me also happens to you 
  • do it recognizing that you have the luxury of choice to participate or not, to stand or not, to give up your weekend or not, whereas others don’t get to decide 
  • don’t try to “mould” me, or to “help” me, or to make me say and do what is convenient for you 
  • don’t weaponize me (“I couldn’t possibly be racist”) don’t instrumentalize me (“my marginalized friend says”) don’t speak for me (“I know what you really mean”)
    don’t infantilize me (“I am doing this for you”) 
  • don’t make your actions contingent on me confiding in you, telling you my traumas, recounting my traditions, practicing your idea of “right” politics, or performing the role of a victim to be saved by you or a revolutionary that can save you 
  • and expect it to be, at times, incoherent, messy, uncomfortable, difficult, deceptive, paradoxical, repetitive, frustrating, incomprehensible, infuriating, boring and painful — and prepare for your heart to break and be stretched 
  • do you still want to do it? 
  • then share the burdens placed on my back, the unique medicines you bring, and the benefits you have earned from this violent and lethal disease 
  • co-create the space where I am able to do the work that only I can and need to do for all of us 
  • take a step back from the centre, the frontline from visibility relinquish the authority of your interpretations, your choice, your entitlements, surrender that which you are most praised and rewarded for 
  • don’t try to teach, to lead, to organize, to mentor, to control, to theorize, or to determine where we should go, how to get there and why 
  • offer your energy to peel potatoes, to wash the dishes, to scrub the toilets, to drive the truck, to care for the babies, to separate the trash, to do the laundry, to feed the elders, to clean the mess, to buy the food, to fill the tank, to write the grant proposal, to pay the tab and the bail 
  • to do and support things you can’t and won’t understand,
    and do what is needed, instead of what you want to do, without judgment, or sense of martyrdom or expectation for gratitude, or for any kind of recognition 
  • then you will be ready to sit with me through the storm with the anger, the pain, the frustration, the losses, the fears, and the longing for better times with each other 
  • and you will be able to cry with me, to mourn with me, to laugh with me, to “heart” with me, as we face our shadows, and find other joys, in earthing, breathing, braiding, growing, cooking and eating, sharing, healing, and thriving side by side 
  • so that we might learn to be ourselves, but also something else, something that is also you and me, and you in me, and neither you nor me 

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