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"Being an Ally"

The following is taken from some slides presented at an educational workshop held at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs called “Overview and Myths of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and survivorship.”   It was helpful to conceptualize and I think can be applied to a number of other scenarios and movements.


What is an ally?  To be an ally is to unite oneself with another to promote a common interest.  People who are allies are not only helpers, but also have a common interest with those who have different identities. In an alliance, both parties stand to benefit from the bond or connection they share.

"Master Status" is the idea that one part of a person’s identity (being a woman, a survivor, a person of color, etc.) defines and explains everything about that person.  It doesn’t.  Acknowledge the complexity of survivors and take our cues from the individual themselves.

Know and Tell Why  If you need to ask something that seems invasive or insensitive, acknowledge this and explain why it’s necessary information to obtain.  This is not a way to educate yourself about “those people” or to satisfy  your curiosity.  Do your homework; take your curiosity elsewhere.

Action.  Survivors need to be central to any awareness/prevention effort.

  • If a survivor can’t stay through an event or participate fully in the action you are making (usually on their behalf)… then there’s a problem.
  • Non-survivor allies sometimes create well-intentioned prevention efforts that totally miss the mark by objectifying survivor’s experiences.  (eg. super graphic accounts of oppression with hardly any focus on prevention.)
  • Overlooking survivors altogether (in other words, focusing solely on perpetrators, which sometimes leads to over-sympathizing with their “plight.”)
  • Keeping survivors centered in our efforts helps us stay on track.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Actress Roundtable interview brings together seven amazing stars, and they talk about issues that affect actresses in Hollywood like sexism and ageism.  At the same time, a vital perspective is being glaringly left out, and that is the inclusion of actresses of color.
It’s hard to believe that it’s 2012, and women of color are still not being included at the table.  

The Hollywood Reporter’s Actress Roundtable interview brings together seven amazing stars, and they talk about issues that affect actresses in Hollywood like sexism and ageism.  At the same time, a vital perspective is being glaringly left out, and that is the inclusion of actresses of color.

It’s hard to believe that it’s 2012, and women of color are still not being included at the table.  

Asian-American actors have never been treated as full-time actors. We’re always hired as part-timers. That is, producers call us when they need us for only race-specific roles. If a part was seen as too “demanding,” that part often went to a non-Asian.


Mako Iwamatsu, the voice actor of Uncle Iroh. Read more about his work fighting for Asian American roles here (via jedifreac)

(I know a lot of people in the industry right now and this is their complaint. One of my friends tried out for the LA rent production. The director and the casting director all loved him and told him he was perfect for the part. Except that the role called for a white man and not a Korean man. BULLSHIT! Another friend has been trying to get a part in movies and the only part he ever got was the stunt double for the Green Lantern. Never shows his face or anything.     )

Couldn’t resist adding this addendum

Racebending.com: So maybe think, for a moment, about why you’re saying this


I am tired of people explaining that because a franchise was created 1960s or 1970s—“when there were fewer people of color than there are today”— that’s why the franchise isn’t diverse today.

I mean, really.

Sure, there were more “white” people living in America in the 1960s and 1970s. That…

Also, P.S.: Attention to all of those people who continue to argue that since people who are “non-Hispanic white” make up the majority of the American population, “naturally” this group deserves to have the majority of entertainment media feature them (as befitting their majority status or whatever.)

Again, please stop and give half a thought to how a land that was populated by the indigenous peoples of America currently has a majority-white population today. (eg: the indigenous people were slaughtered for land, people of color were stolen from their families and socialized to become white, immigration of people of color was bottlenecked while immigration of white ethnics was widely encouraged, people of color were forcibly sterilized to prevent them from reproducing, all these different forms of social control, etc. No wonder people who are white make up the majority of Americans today.)

When you prop up the percentage of white people in order to justify why discrimination exists in Hollywood, also think about what’s providing you with this stat you can wield to silence dissent.

While the Boy Scouts of America may have the “legal” right to continue to discriminate–a question I believe should be revisited–I and others have the same “legal” right to protest the policy, till our last breaths if necessary, as blatantly discriminatory and against everything that equality in America stands for.

By George Takei, addressing the Boy Scouts releasing a statement  reaffirming its ban on gay scouts and LGBT leaders. [To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.]

    Hollywood trailblazer and civil rights activist Lena Horne was born 95 years ago on June 30th, 1917.   In addition to starring in Hollywood films, Horne also participated in the Civil Rights movement. She volunteered for the NAACP, was at the March on Washington, and worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass anti-lynching laws. 

    • Horne’s contract with MGM explicitly stated that she would never have to portray a maid.
    • During a tour stop in Las Vegas, a hotel Horne stayed at reportedly burned the sheets she used after she checked out–rather than reuse them for white hotel guests.
    • Even though Horne was in movies with other stars like Gene Kelly and Lucille Ball, her scenes were filmed in a way where they could be cut out when the films were shown in movie theaters in the South.
    • MGM producer Arthur Freed asked Ms. Horne to act in his show, “St. Louis Woman.” When Horne refused because she felt the role was stereotypical and offensive, Freed retaliated by blocking her from other movie roles.
    • During World War II, Horne was asked to perform for the troops. Horne saw that the audience was segregated and that black soldiers were seated in the back–even behind white enemy prisoners of war from Germany. Horne caught flak from her producers for defying this unfair practice when she walked off the stage to the first row of black troops and performed with her back facing the the Germans, straight to the black American troops.

    Read our article from 2011 to learn more about Lena Horne!

Dennis sold this great script to the studios, but he left the character descriptions out. When the studios found out the leads were black, they didn’t want to make the movie anymore.


Actor Brian White describes what happened to the white writer, director, and producer of  ”The Heart Specialist,” Dennis Cooper, when he tried to sell the film to Hollywood.

Cooper had to make the film independently.  It ended up starring Wood Harris, Brian White and actress Zoe Saldana.


Over the course of 23 seasons, not one time has the show’s eclectic mix ever included a Bachelor or Bachelorette who is a person of color. Each of the 23 people who have filled the role of the Bachelor and Bachelorette-despite their apparent professional diversity-have all been white.

…Not only has every Bachelor and Bachelorette in the shows’ 23-season history been white, but nearly all of the ‘suitors’ are white as well. Females of color are few and far between on The Bachelor and, to the extent the show ever does contain non-white female contestants, they tend to be eliminated early on in the show. The same is true of males of color on The Bachelorette. The result is an almost all or entirely all white group of contestants featured on the shows every week that they air.

The shows’ complete lack of people of color is no accident. As illustrated below, and upon information and belief, numerous people of color have applied to be the Bachelor or Bachelorette. These applicants were denied the same opportunity to become the next Bachelor or Bachelorette as white contestants not because they were unsuitable for the role or could not contribute to the show’s ‘eclectic mix,’ but solely because of the perceived risk that casting a Bachelor or Bachelorette who is a person of color would alienate the show’s majority-white viewership. Intentional discrimination, even if based on perceptions of customer bias, is prohibited by … the California Civil Code.

By From the complaint against ABC, “The Bachelor,” creator Mike Fleiss, and the production companies, filed by lead plaintiffs Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson. They allege that they applied for the lead role in “The Bachelor” but were never really considered because they are black.
Though the show’s creators allegedly attribute the lack of diversity to a lack of diverse applicants,” Claybrooks and Johnson call that “patently untrue, and a pretext for racial discrimination.”