Center for Faculty Innovation

Interrogating White “Allyship” (Online Faculty Community)

Wed, 10 Feb 2021 12:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Group will meet on Tuesdays, 2-3 PM: 2/16, 2/23, 3/2, 3/9, and 3/16. 
Applications due by Wed 2/10/2021 at 12 PM.

 “Allyship” has become a contentious concept. All too often, White folks claim this identity—publicly and proudly!—without really doing anything to warrant it. This practice can have the effect of rewarding us (through praise, positions, and more) while also excusing us from criticism or from having to take the sorts of risks that might threaten our comfortable positions of power and privilege. In this way, “allyship” can all too easily lapse into passivity or performativity. People of color may prefer conferring alternative labels like “warrior,” “accomplice,” or “co-conspirator” on colleagues whose advocacy actually justifies them. There is an urgent need for White folks to take—even imperfect—action, while also undergoing the racial identity development, critical self-reflection, and long overdue reckoning that would undergird and preface these actions. The burden should not be on people of color to continue to do the bulk of the social justice work at our institution, and across the country, but without a critical mass or network of White individuals willing to join in the efforts, the problematic status quo will only persist. This faculty learning community will investigate and critique the notion of White “allyship,” along with other (perhaps preferable) roles, with the explicit goal of planning how to move toward risk-taking, de-centering, unburdening, and more. Faculty should expect to attend all five sessions as a commitment to the work and to the group.

Important note: Participation in this group presumes that you are not at the very beginning of your journey in critical self-reflection about race. If this is the case for you, we are so glad you are starting! Please plan to join this learning community in a later semester. In the meantime, consider delving into works such as Irving’s Waking Up White, DiAngelo’s White Fragility, and Kendi’s How to Be Antiracist; JMU-specific programs such as WAKE UP or Preparing Faculty to be Inclusive Teachers; or other such opportunities that will help you lay a solid foundation for deep dialogue and informed action.

Facilitator: Emily Gravett, CFI and College of Arts & Letters

Faculty participants will make progress toward these program outcomes:

  • Identifying what allyship is;
  • Identify the limitations and problems of allyship; and

CFI programs will be canceled automatically if JMU is closed for inclement weather.

Our programs are intended for JMU faculty or staff only. If you are a graduate student or administrator and would like to attend, please sign up and leave a note at the end of the survey.

We want this program to be welcoming, accessible, and inclusive for all of our participants. Please describe any considerations (e.g., disability, wellness, cultural, etc.) you want us to know about in the registration survey. You may also reach out to us personally at Tiffany Runion, or (540)568-4846.

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