"Where do you think you are on the ally continuum? If you are a person of color, you can still become an anti-racist ally to other racially marginalized group. Do you think you already demonstrate allyship? Share with the other participants the ways in which you are already an ally, and ways that you would like to become a stronger one."
I'm somewhere between active and advocate. I had done previous coursework that called to action some reflection that is encouraged in this training, and even had previously seen a few of the videos in the training, though I'm continuing to integrate and still continuing to grow as an anti-racist ally. My previous experience definitely wasn't as thorough as this training, which has been excellent!
I work as a music therapist in mental health. One way I've been an ally is offering therapy groups that directly offer black patients opportunities to record music for their own healing and moving toward personal goals: What is important is that I offer a space to create, and encourage choice throughout the process, offering prompts to elicit meaningful music making, lyric-writing, and story-telling. My role is very much a supportive one, and definitely not the mouthpiece of the group. On the other hand, this is a group where I've been guilty of microaggressions (debate around censorship of lyrics, guiding music making away from themes which in reality were very important to people's lived experiences, confronting a patient who challenged boundaries). So, I have consistently sought support in supervision. Needless to say, the group has evolved and my understanding of my role as an ally has evolved. I've made the mistakes I need to make to be better. heh I'm self-conscious to share all this, as I don't want to be a white savior here, but they are examples of creating space for black voices in a meaningful, empowering way. During a group "Hip Hop Cypher," I encourage group members to be the ones who guide the group through free-styling, storytelling, passing the mic. I offer support musically on drum-set, and beat making with recording software, but the group itself (which is down due to covid precautions, for now) was largely self-governed and had a spirit of community, creative thinking, sharing of personal stories, and was a lot of fun for all involved. I offer support as to how to build beats, then encourage patients to build the beats they want for the music they'll be making. Another example of allyship, is seeking education: I took a graduate course last year for music therapists called "Therapeutic Uses of Rap and Hip Hop in Music Therapy," which directly challenged us to seek supervision, learn the history of hip hop music and it's evolution, consider microaggressions revolving around hip hop music and ways white therapists should be mindful in working with hip hop, to understand the many expressions of hip hop, problems with appropriation in music, and to encourage reflection on an ongoing basis. It had many anti-racist qualities, as a course. I'm aware that performative allyship is problematic too, as you note in your video: it's not about me, or us, as allies, it's about truly being anti-racist in deed and in practice. It doesn't matter who sees or whether it's acknowledged.
I want to be better at directly engaging people in daily conversation especially people with problematic views (All Lives or Blues Lives folk, white exceptionalism) I want to feel more comfortable challenging problematic views in a constructive way that elicits more depth. It's anxiety provoking entering a conversation that you know will be difficult. I want to be as prepared and as open and receptive as possible to have these conversations. Part of this is through education, part through delving into personal stuff, and lastly it seems, is through experience.