Solidarity often translates into a saviorship complex, whereby the so called solidarity activist views the oppressed group with pity and aims to help through saving them from their turmoil.
Pity as a sentiment stems from feelings of supremacy and arrogance. They enforce subconscious feelings of inferiorizing and othering. Rather than extending arms for support, individuals with the saviorship complex instead run in front of oppressed groups holding their palms behind them asking the oppressed groups to “catch-up.”
As we experience uprisings and resistance all over the globe, it is essential that allies understand their privileged position and instead follow the choices and decisions of the resisting groups rather than dictating.
The basics of solidarity:
- You are not there to save the oppressed group.
- Oppressed groups are not inferior to you, and are not searching for sympathetic pity.
- No nation is “free” in the utopic sense. Therefore do not bring your nations idea of “democracy,” “freedom,” and “justice” to the oppressed groups. They are well aware of their demands and do not need you to enlighten them. This is an act of stripping agency, which is an ideology embedded within oppressing regimes.
- Do not glorify the resistance movement through poeticizing and fetishizing the resisting peoples. No resistance is pretty. Blood is red, and it is only turned to poetry when we embellish it with linguistic choices. Sometimes such approach helps in alleviating the perpetrator.
- Commend steadfastness and resilience as a mode of support. Do not use it as a rationalization to live in a utopic hopeful state, whereby you do nothing.
- Do not dictate to oppressed groups how to react or feel. You are not going to deal with the consequences, and your privilege of choice does not place you in a position to tell any oppressed groups how to feel or behave. Humble yourself and listen, this is their struggle and you are an ally.
- Do not fetishize the fighters of the cause. Stop approaching women as “badasses” and men as “glamorous heroes” to fulfill your fantasy provoked by action Hollywood films. The very reason people resist is to live in dignity and peace, without the necessity to constantly be fighting. There is exhaustion and trauma behind all such appearances, and it is our duty to help alleviate rather than endorse them.
- You can do more work in your home country, than in the resisting country. Carrying out actions against complicity whether in the form of political, educational and economic institutions proves more effective for creating meaningful strategy directed at thwarting oppression.
- Struggles are not for you to build a career off the backs of oppressed groups. That means you opportunistic journalists and NGOs.
- Oppressed groups are not a charity case. They are people fighting for dignity and justice. Consequently, the humanitarian approach only reduces the symptoms of the oppression itself and does not delve into the roots of it.
- Do not become a spokesperson for the respective struggling community. If you are approached to comment on a struggle you express solidarity with, present it from the perspective of your group in terms of complicity and resisting oppression. This is not synonymous with speaking on behalf of the oppressed groups. Every group can speak for itself, so remember to amplify their voices rather than muting them in order to get your fame time.
- Standing with one oppressed group and being complicit in another oppression automatically nulls your solidarity. You’re either against oppression out of principle, or you’re not.
- Resisting groups are not models for your next art project.
- Do not wait for a “thank you” from oppressed groups simply because you’re doing the right thing. Standing with justice is not a time to boost your ego.
- It’s not about you.