Topic 8: Authenticity of Allies


Topic 8 introduces students to the concept of allies for historically marginalized groups in the workplace. It can be argued that allies are supposed to be positive influences on the people they purport to help. However, there are fine lines that allies tend to cross when they covertly or overtly diminish the credentials of those they are seeking to help. One wonders if they even know the meaning of help and its purpose.

Scenario 1: Diminishing the Credentials of Blacks by White Allies

Black people have been reporting incidents of discrimination in the workplace, that have been documented, since the inception of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Prior to 1964, there were few Blacks in the formalized workplaces in the United States of America. Despite the ability of Blacks to communicate their lived experiences, they are often ignored until a white ally voices their story for them. They are only acknowledged because a white person said something. Instances of these occurrences have been chronicled by Black workers repeatedly; yet, very little has changed. The validity and credibility of what they report is ignored even if they are more highly credentialed than their white allies.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why does who tell the story matter for action to occur in support of Black workers?
  2. Who determines the validity and credibility of Black voices and why?

Scenario 2: Controlling the Dialogue of Conversations Begun by Black People

Black people and Black scholars in America have been against racism (anti-racist) for at least 400 years. Yet, in 2020 white scholars are trying to introduce ant-racism as an emerging trend. White scholars are introducing the old ideas and attempting to control the dialogue of conversations begun by Black people.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How and why is this acceptable?
  2. In what way(s) does this diminish the credentials of Black people and Black scholars in America?
  3. How do we get allies to research the scholarship of Black scholars and listen to the lived experiences of Black people?

Supplemental Readings

Alleyne, A (2004) Black identity and workplace oppression. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 4(1), 4–8.

Ashley, W. (2014). The angry black woman: The impact of pejorative stereotypes on psychotherapy with black women. Social Work in Public Health, 29(1), 27-34.

Bell, E. L. E., Meyerson, D., Nkomo, S., & Scully, M. (2003). Interpreting silence and voice in the workplace: A conversation about tempered radicalism among Black and White women researchers. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 39(4), 381-414.

Delgado, R. (1990). When a story is just a story: Does voice really matter? Virginia Law Review, 95-111.

Ferree, M. M. (2004). Soft repression: Ridicule, stigma, and silencing in gender-based movements. Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, 25, 85-101.

Griffin, R. A. (2012). I AM an angry Black woman: Black feminist autoethnography, voice, and resistance. Women’s Studies in Communication, 35(2), 138-157.

Kinouani, G. (2020). Silencing, power and racial trauma in groups. Group Analysis, 53(2), 145–161.

Newton, J. (2017). Anti-Black racism, resistance, and the health and well-being of Black bodies in public education. In New framings on anti-racism and resistance (pp. 45-64). Brill Sense.

Wingfield, A. H. (2007). The modern mammy and the angry Black man: African American professionals’ experiences with gendered racism in the workplace. Race, Gender & Class, 196-212.

Wingfield, A. H. (2009). Racializing the glass escalator: Reconsidering men’s experiences with women’s work. Gender & Society, 23(1), 5-26.

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