The Accomplices & Allies poster/handout is a beginner’s visual tool for sighted folks that cover the basic concepts about using one’s privilege in a relationship to support the other person or people that don’t have those privileges. This article will include a full description of the poster, important links on the concept of accomplices, and the photo of the original hand-drawn Allyship poster that I made.
Title: “Accomplices & Allies”
“WHAT IS BEING AN ACCOMPLICE? WHAT IS ALLYSHIP?
When you’re an accomplice, or building allyship, you’re in a relationship with another person, or a group of people. You earn and are given the role of accomplice or ally — it is not an identity you give yourself. That’s why sometimes the term “accomplice” is preferred instead of “ally” because of how people use “ally” as an identity and forget the relationship-building aspect. An accomplice also works to directly dismantle the systems that are oppressing people even when they benefit or are protected from them.”
“WHY DO IT?
To rectify a power imbalance, dismantle an oppressive system, and/or use one’s privileges (unearned social advantages) for those who don’t have them and are oppressed. This is different than an alliance, where it’s a relationship of mutual advantage among social equals.”
Exchange of Care/Service/Direct Action”
#1: Check in & follow appropriate leadership. If it’s an organization, ensure you and the group have shared values. If you’re working with an individual, check if they want your help. If they do, ask how you can support them in their safety and goals. Check if they want you to speak beside them or for them. It’s not about you taking the spotlight, so be open to feedback.
#2: Don’t deny someone’s reality. Just because it’s an illness, gender, oppression, or something else you haven’t heard of, doesn’t mean it’s fake. Listen and learn before jumping to conclusions.
#3: Don’t assume you know by looking. You can’t tell someone’s race, gender, or disability by looking at them. Don’t assume everyone in the room is straight, cisgender, or non-disabled.
#4: Privacy and advice. Don’t ask people invasive questions about their bodies, where they’re from, have they tried this treatment, etc. If you’re not close, it’s not your business.
#5: Confidentiality. Don’t endanger people by outing their citizenship status, trans status, queer status, disability status, etc.
#6: Pronouns. Ask, don’t guess. Use appropriate pronouns even when talking about the past or future.
#7: Self Educate: Unlearn problematic stereotypes, language, and behaviour. It’s not the oppressed person’s job to teach you, though you can go to educational workshops and educational organizations led by oppressed people so you can learn.”
The poster is divided into six main sections. The top section is a header with the title in white font on a dark blue rectangle, with a pale blue divider. On the right of the poster underneath the header is a column with all the TIPS, the title being in purple while the text is in dark blue and lighter blue. On the left of the poster underneath the header is the introductory section explaining what an accomplice and allyship is, with the title also being in purple and the text in dark blue. Underneath that introductory section is an image. Underneath the image are two small columns. On the left is the WHY DO IT? column with the title in purple and the main text in dark blue. On the right is the IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES column, with the title in pale blue, and main text in white on a dark blue square speech bubble that is coming out from the word ally in the image.
The image is a cartoon. There is a dark grey cloud with blue rain drops coming out of it. The rain drops are hitting a purple umbrella being held by a pale smiling person with yellow hair and red lips, who is wearing a purple long-sleeved shirt. There is a dark-skinned person with a purple bow in their short black hair who is also under the umbrella, wearing a dark blue long-sleeved shirt and looking scared. There is a purple rocket with orange flames hitting the cloud. The cloud is described as “OPPRESSION”. The umbrella is described as “PRIVILEGE”. The rocket is described as “ACCOMPLICE.” The pale person holding the umbrella is described as “ALLY”.
Important Links on Being an Accomplice
- Accomplices Not Allies: Abolishing The Ally Industrial Complex, an Indigenous perspective and provocation
- Be accomplices, not allies by CODEPINK
- I Need An Accomplice, Not An Ally by Dr Jon Paul
- Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice
- Ally or Accomplice? The Language of Activism by Colleen Clemens
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