We're in the midst of the new Civil Rights Movement, and each one of us has a part to play. It's so important to figure out how to do the work and how to be helpful. It's not a box to check and then move on with our day; it's a deep, ongoing journey of learning - to know better and then to do better and to put that action out into the world from the platforms we have.
As a sexy entertainer and sex worker who helps create and sustain fantasies for audiences and clients, many may want to witness only the glamour and not listen to the grit - or they want to see my parts, but not my politics. Here's the thing - everything I do as an entertainer, domme, and coach is political as fuck, merely by way of my body, sex and sexuality, and encouraging others to enter braver spaces as well. I don't compartmentalize myself in my real life, and I will no longer do so in my spaces of public view: If you want my revealed parts, then in the process you're going to also get my head and heart.
ACTIVE & VULNERABLE LEARNING with THE OFFICE HOUR PROJECT
I haven't had my blog active since 2014, and I thought this would be the most appropriate reason to bring it back. As I've mentioned in my social media, there has been personal work I've been doing - to examine myself, my internal narratives, motivations, and actions when it comes to allyship. Thanks to the @theofficehourproject (*FOLLOW*) I’ve had a space where a group of incredible humans have generously offered labor to engage in honest conversation to do so. I submitted a handful of questions, and want to share the process for transparency, accountability, and hopefully to keep this engagement and conversation going with my fellow white folks (feeds are returning back to “normal” or people are taking breaks from social media, and I am fully aware that it is “allyship fatigue” and privileged).
I want to share the full dialogue and process with you all, with hopes that it may help you on your journey to step into braver spaces with active anti-racist and anti-oppression allyship. Also, because I have a platform and a position of power and privilege, I want to use it. Below are the first few rounds of communication from one question (out of five that I submitted). I'll continue to add to the thread and update you all.
Solidarity not charity: What are the best ways to analyze our giving and helping in this revolution to dismantle internalized white supremist behavior by way of saviorism?
I am a helper by nature – I have been my whole life. Because of my upbringing, I developed a bit of a savior complex with my family members that continued into my 20s and 30s with loved ones. Once my therapist called me on it, I got to work on relinquishing it. Because of that old tendency I dialogue with myself anytime I want to help, to make sure I can clearly identify and align my motivations as well as acknowledge that I see those I wish to help as equals. When the call to action went public for us to raise awareness, raise funds, and get out into the streets to lend a hand for the Movement, I’ve been doing personal assessments of action before springing to it. Are there additional considerations I can take responsibility for (or that others can employ) to address any white savior behaviors that, are rooted in unchecked, ingrained racism?
The Office Hour Collective (OHC):
Here's the full text of what our team members had shared:
What helps organize my thoughts is categorizing “help” into three groups:
“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”― Lilla Watson
Dear Office Hour Collective,
Thank you for the energy, honesty, wisdom, and care that you have poured into these responses. I wanted to let you know that although this reply is later than I had desired, it is not from a lack of engagement in reflection or action – I had calls to action that were home-based and all-encompassing. However, I am noticing an overall downshift in posts about the revolution among my white peers, and so I know the silence, breaks from social media, and resuming posts to “go back to normal” is the luxury of white privilege. I step back into this learning space with you all to keep my own commitment strong, and to share this process in my social media platforms for accountability.
Solidarity not charity: The first question I proposed about showing up as the helper while assessing “white savior” tendencies – I admit to asking the question to help myself steer the course, while also asking because I was having feelings about some of what I was seeing on social media. If something that someone else is doing or posting “pings” for me, I turn the mirror toward myself to make sure it’s not reflecting something in me that needs tending. In revisiting behaviors I unpacked with my family, I was put into a position of parenting and making choices for others. When I coach or am in domina mode, I am “in charge”, with the understanding that others have come to me with their goals and have entrusted my expertise and knowledge to assist them to reach them. But with all positions, I am ultimately following the needs of the people I'm serving.
With the Revolution, being able to use the lens of “follow the lead of Black & POC folks already doing the work” has been affirming. It would be delusional for me to claim that allies don’t approach this work for some sense of satisfaction (the debate of altruism). What has been helpful with your insight is clarifying the desire to feel purposeful, contributing, and liberatory vs a self-congratulatory box-checker. I may be a leader in some circles, but I fully acknowledge that I do not know what is best here. I am not a leader in this work and don’t need or want to be in charge; I find myself stepping back to support what is already being done, holding space for those doing work, or supporting individual humans in ways I can (non-glamorous, behind-the-scenes) so that they may focus on what they need to do .
In regards to the 3 categories of help outlined in the last email:
Wow, thank you very much for your thorough and beautiful response. You have been thinking a lot about anti-oppression work and we drink up every word you share with us.
What stood out to us overall was your ferocity and ability to go beyond doing and saying the "right thing" and return to the basics of human connection. Yes, the simple human-to-human connection that is the foundation of any community building and organizing. We think you have been doing this outside anti-oppression work when you call to check-in on the burlesque Legends. It is apparent to us that you are transferring those skills to the anti-oppression work with a lot of grace. Of course there are strategic steps we do in order to defund the police or address voting suppression. Underneath all those strategies lie the dignity and humanity in all of us. When you talked about providing childcare for the QTBIPOC in your community to march, that's it. You get it and you are doing community building. Please keep on being human during our liberation movement.
Community at large: We are so glad to hear that following the QTBIPOC community-based activists feel in alignment with your values. If we may nudge you a bit closer to your discomfort, what is your power and boundary that you still have from your platform, power, and privilege while following the lead of those community organizers? While it is essential that you show up as a guest to the QTBIPOC party, it is equally important to not disavow your power. To follow someone's lead doesn't mean you need to step outside your power. That may not be productive either. In this liberation for all movement, you have so much power to hold other white allies accountable by persistently following up with them... which sounds like you are doing that. In other words, apply the both/and idea here...following the QTBIPOC lead AND using your power creatively to enhance the movement's vibration.
Inner circle: Thank you for wanting to try our ideas and being more direct and active about inviting others to engage more deeply instead of just "being nice." Without asking you to disclose your personal information, we really believe in the allies' power when they share their personal journey in those posts. If you feel comfortable, we think it adds so much weight and humanity to your story. It may very well inspire those ally newbies to step out of their shame and disrupt their norms.
Home: You show up for your spouse so beautifully. Yes, secondary or vicarious trauma is a very real and taxing issue even when it helps us process oppression. As much as it has potential to activate or drain your spouse, it also has the potential to deepen the connection between you both. We think whatever you decide to do together will be best. Or, only process it when your spouse brings it up as long as you have another outlet to process your learning (hint: with us and with pleasure).
You mentioned asking "How can I support you?" That's a beautiful question. Some folks prefer "What do you need now?" Perhaps, there's room for you to play with the question that feels best to you both.
The close connection and boring work (i.e., child care, cooking, cleaning) are beyond valid if not crucial. These small moments build trust which is so key to having an impactful movement. Again, you are being human with people in your circle and you care for one another while building a solid community.
This resource makes us think of your discussion: https://issuu.com/nlc.sf.2014/docs/beyondthestreets_final
Self: Absolutely! Keep resisting while cultivating JOY. Be creative with how you redistribute resources when everyone is so strapped financially. Your commitment to signal boost QTBIPOC's work is significant too! How do you keep a record of those "small victories"? Activating joy and pleasure and self-care are all integral in this work too as you already know. What's your care plan?
We are grateful for your time and energy in this participation.