This piece was originally published in the June 2019 issue of W42ST magazine.
Listen. Educate yourself. Recognize your own privilege. Make space for each other. Be kinder. You think you’re an ally? These are the ways you can show it.
The following is part of a conversation between young artists that was incorporated into the 15-minute performance piece Artivism as part of Rebel Verses Arts Festival.
Isabel: “We should all name why we have to be good allies. For example: I’m queer, so I need allies. But I’m also white, so I need to BE an ally.”
Elijah: “I’m black, so I need allies. But I’m also a man, so I need to be an ally.”
Jennifer: “I’m a queer woman of color, so I need allies. But I’m also cis, so I need to be an ally.
Bryson: “You know when I felt the most like I needed an ally? It was the first time I liked a guy, I told him he looked like a boy Snow White. I thought princess was a compliment, but he told everyone that was ‘some gay shit.’ I felt really alone. It would’ve been a lot easier if I had someone on my side. That’s why I think allies are really important.”
Ensemble: “We’re on your side.” “It’s ok.” “We’re allies together.”
KT: “Yo, I went on a third date with Salena.”
Elijah: “She a hottie.”
KT: “Yeah, but also she got a nice smile. She’s smart too.”
Naila: “Are you talkin’ ‘bout that white chick?”
KT: “Yeah, that’s the thing. She asked me if she could call me her n*****.”
Ensemble: “She did what?!” “What the f***?!” “Nuh Uh. NO!”
Xara: “So you’re not seeing her anymore right? ‘cause that’s NOT all right.”
KT: “That’s what I’m saying. That’s why I need my allies.”
Tim: “We’re here man.”
John: “We got you.”
Jaden: “That’s tough, bro.”
Isabel: “You know what’s fucking tough? Being a GIRL. Quick. List. Go. Disgusting things that happened to you on the way here. Today!”
Xara: “Got told to smile.”
Jennifer: “Whistled at my ass.”
Salena: “Dude said I was exotic.”
Brianna: “I got hit on … IN class.”
Dora: “Got called a bitch.”
Naila: “Got called a se-duc-tive nym-ph.”
Isabel: “A guy stared at me while jerking off on the subway.”
Xara: “That’s happened to me too.”
Jennifer: “Me too.”
Brianna: “Me too.”
Salena & Naila: “Me too.”
Isabel: “This situation is so specific. Why has this happened to so many of us? I feel like this is indicative of a much larger problem! And that’s NOT all right.”
Ensemble: “Yeah, that’s fucked up.” “This shit gotta stop.”
John: “GROUP HUG!”
Harvaniya (Amidst a group hug): “This is a good way for us to be allies.”
Isabel: “You know what’s a good way to be an ally: don’t be an asshole.”
Salena: “Other good ways to be an ally: don’t touch my hair.”
Tim: “Don’t go to a women’s march to pick up women.”
Jennifer: “Don’t only march for the issues that directly affect you.”
Bryson: “The best way to be a good ally is to show up.”
Xara: “To listen.”
Developing Artists is a nonprofit that provides performing arts opportunities for underserved teens (developingartists.org).
This piece originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of W42ST magazine. Read more in the Ally Series here. Stay in touch with W42ST and be first to read stories like this when you receive our daily newsletter. Join the conversation at w42st.com.