Podcasts/Sacred Tension-what took you so long8yw09
what_took_you_so_long8yw09 SUMMARY KEYWORDS people, white, whiteness, person, tears, aspect, podcast, pandemic, emotions, hear, talking, killed, weaponized, life, irish, type, rock candy, tension, long, bit SPEAKERS Peterson Toscano, Ally Henny, Stephen Bradford Long
Peterson Toscano 00:00 You're listening to a rock candy podcast. Hi, I'm Liam Hooper. And I'm Peterson Toscano. Together, we co host the Bible bash podcast. Each month we look into a different ancient story. We're curious to find insights into our own queer lives. We discuss these and share our findings with you. You can find the Bible bash podcast pretty much anywhere you listen to podcast, new episodes come out at the end of each month.
Stephen Bradford Long 01:01 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long, and we are here on the rock candy Podcast Network. For more shows like this one, go to rock candy recordings.com. All right. Well, before we start things off today, I have to thank my latest patrons. So we're all struggling right now the economy is taking a massive downturn, a lot of us are suffering. And I have taken a tremendous financial hit. I'm working fewer hours as an essential worker to reduce my exposure to the public. I am not teaching yoga at all. And that was a big chunk of my income. And so every little bit helps. If you are able to give to creators you love, then please do so because creators especially small independent creators, we're struggling right now. If you are able to donate to my Patreon, I so appreciate it. And it really is the lifeblood of the show. I cannot do what I'm doing without my patrons if you enjoy the work that I do, if you enjoy the speaking that I've done, if you enjoy all the other projects, all the other podcasts, part of the network that I am working on, then you donating to Patreon helps all of that. But I say that with the caveat that I need you to first take care of yourself and your family. I will be okay. If you are not able to donate Please don't. Don't feel guilted into giving. Please take care of yourself first. If you have the margin to give right now though, I really would appreciate it. So the patrons who I have to think today are I'm pulling up the app. I should have been more prepared. All right, as rial Make Love Not money, Betsy, Caroline, Isaac and Krista. Thank you all so much. And Patreon is not the only way to support the community. You can also go check out all the other rock candy shows, Bible bash, bubble and squeak, calm and creatives 11 D life and we are having more shows on the way if you're interested in joining our network if you're a podcaster and think that you would benefit and contribute to our weird culture of curiosity and compassion and making the world a weirder and more interesting and compassionate place. Please send me an email I would love to hear your pitch for the show. And another way you can contribute to the community is by going to the satanic temple.tv. It is a platform streaming platform hosted by the Satanic Temple. They have all kinds of documentaries and rituals and live streams and talks lectures on there. If you are into Satanism, or a cult, Satan pagan adjacent. If you're interested in new religious movements, then please go check it out. I have a promo code that you can use. They are sponsors. They are a sponsor of the show. And my promo code is sacred tension all caps, no space, and you can use that at checkout to get one month free. All right, well, moving on with the show. I am so incredibly excited to welcome the amazing Ally Henny to the show. Ally, thank you so much for joining me.
Ally Henny 04:59 Thank you for how having me on.
Stephen Bradford Long 05:01 So I love you. I'm, uh, Stan you know, I found you on Twitter and, and I saw some of your Twitter threads and I was like, oh my god, I have to get her on the show because you're just, you, you're amazing, I love you. So tell tell my audience some about who you are and what you do.
Ally Henny 05:27 So I am a writer, activist, blogger in the in the realm of race and cultural identity and that sort of stuff. And so, that sort of, that's really my side hustle even though it's definitely it's my side hustle, but it's definitely kind of become a thing, especially for me during during the pandemic, because my day job for the last off and on for about the last 12 years is that I'm actually a Christian minister, I've been involved in ministry, oh goodness, since since I was 18 years years old, and so have have worked in work in churches just finished seminary and everything which has been, which has been a good experience for me. And it's definitely you know, as a, as a person in a faith, you know, I respect respect that, you know, a lot of different people have a lot of different journeys have a lot of different, you know, things and so as a as a person in the Christian faith community, even recognizing that sometimes my my work as an activist puts me in tension with with certain faith communities puts me puts me in in tension and I definitely have have found have found ally ship have found, I'm not sure the right word to use, but definitely have have grown in empathy toward people who, whose identities whose whose, whose faith or lack of faith or no faith has has put them also on the outs with those who are dominant in society, whether that be white people, whether that be straight people, whether that be cisgender men, whether that be the religious establishment that a lot of people try to deny exists in our country, but certainly is there. And yeah, so that so that's kind of, you know, what I who I am and kind of, in kind of what I do,
Stephen Bradford Long 07:42 that's amazing. I love that Yeah, I like to call myself an ecumenical slut. Like I you know, my, my personal religious identity is I'm a member of the Satanic Temple, which is a new religious movement. But I this show really is, is not exclusively about Satanism, I want to talk to all different types of religious people and, and find common cause because, you know, the stakes are so high right now. You know, we have massive inequality and climate change, and, and it just all of that stuff on on the horizon and in our world, and we can't afford to not find alliances, you know, like the, the stakes are too high, in my opinion. So this show is all about that and having those conversations. So I've been asking this of my, of my guests lately, through COVID. How, how are you doing? How, what has life looked like for you lately?
Ally Henny 08:52 Yeah, it's life has been very interesting. For me, I will say that, like, there have been some changes for my family, but my husband works from home. So there really wasn't a change. In that respect. I was whenever the pandemic hit, I was finishing up seminary, and so I was already an online student, so that that aspect of it didn't really change. You know, my preschooler only went to school, two days a week. So I was used to having her around. So some of the biggest changes for my family has been the fact that my kindergartener, And now and now, first grader, of course, she wasn't going to school. And so once the pandemic had, what they had started shutting stuff down during the pandemic, or for the pandemic, during Art, my kids spring break, and so, so there was kind of a week of where we were already kind of Yeah, it was, it was for And break, and then kind of your found out that, okay, they're going to, they're going to cancel school for the week after spring break. And then once that was over, because that was kind of within that initial two week period where they were saying, Okay, we have 15 days to just stop the spread. So so let's do that. And so then after those 15 days were up, the school district came back and was like, yeah, it looks like we're gonna have to have to cancel school some more rather, they didn't cancel school, school went to online learning. And so they went to online learning for a little bit more. And then I was living in Missouri at the time. And then my family, actually, in the middle of the pandemic, we actually relocated to Chicago. So that so that's been that's kind of an interesting aspect. But kind of during, during all of that, the governor of Missouri, shut down the schools, he said that schools would would all schools needed to suspend in person learning, so no more in person learning, everybody if they could get online. And if they couldn't, they just then no school and just set a universal end date for for the school, which is significant for Missouri. And just in the respect that like, you know, we were we were state that that has that hat, we'll have a lot of snow days and stuff during the year. And we were also one of the states that were the had some of the slowest response to the to the virus. And so it was so it was very significant for them to decide to shut stuff down. So kind of but but that, that affected us a little bit, but then as we moved in to Chicago in May, and so we just have been kind of adjusting to being a new in a new home in a new city, yet still somewhat quarantined, they've opened stuff a little bit, but we, but we mostly stay in the house, but we mostly stay in the house anyway. Si Si for school, you know, with with everyone with everyone working with everyone working from home, so there really hasn't been so there's been a disruption for sure. For my family, but not like a whole whole lot.
Stephen Bradford Long 12:23 Yeah, you know, I've said this before on the show, and this is not at all to downplay you know, how deeply collectively traumatizing this time has been for a lot of people. I am I am kind of living my best life. You know, I've always been a sweaty gamer boy, like basement dwelling, gamer boy. And so I'm living my best life. Like I've always I've always been been isolated and antisocial. So this is this is just like normal life for me except being an essential worker through, you know, a plague that has that has been deeply, deeply, deeply stressful. But yeah, you know, home life for me hasn't really changed. So I, I relate to that. So I, I thought that the direction that that we could go in for this episode. Your your Twitter is and you also host a podcast called combing the roots. And you also write for a blog and various outlets. I think if I read your bio correctly. Yes, that's right. Cool. So you're, you're just such a great articulator of what you need white allies to do. And in what you need from from white allies. And I feel like we're at a point where a lot of white people are, are kind of waking up to, to the problem of, of systemic racism, police brutality, the widespread racism that exists in our country and how deeply ingrained it is, you know, these these ongoing protests, I think they're, they're working in that they are waking up a lot of people but at the same time, a lot of people are waking up and don't really know what to do. So what where would you Where would you take it from here, you know, say, say I'm a white person who is just waking up to this issue. What would you tell me?
Ally Henny 14:48 Well, the first thing that I would would tell you are really more like ask you is what took you so long? Yeah, why are you here now? And the reason And people kind of get upset whenever I take this tack or really say kind of anything along these lines, because they feel like well, you know, people are just, you know, they're, they're becoming aware. So so we should be, you should be happy about that you should be thankful it doesn't, it doesn't really help your cause, to, quote unquote, beat people up as soon as they decide to align themselves. And for me, you know what it's not, it's not about beating anybody up. Even though there are like literal people who have been beaten up for this literal black people whose lives have been ended in this fight for our rights, or just, you know, our lives being just ended period, indiscriminately, period. So I think that it's a bit it's a valid question here. And if and if that question maybe puts a little bit of I don't know, creates a little bit of, of tension or discomfort. For someone, I think that that is a good place to begin a good place to explore. Because that's how you answer that question, really determines the rest of the conversation. And the reason why the reason why I focus so much on at this point in the game, why why did you just now decide to jump on is because there we have been in a, I refer to it as like the second civil rights movement, or, you know, the new civil rights movement or civil rights 2.0 We have been in a in a heightened state of racial awareness. As a nation, there has been a national conversation going on about this since 2014, since the murder of Mike Brown. Now, some of this conversation, there were rumblings of this conversation, whenever Trayvon Martin was murdered, but Michael Brown, that was Ferguson, that was that was kind of the moment where black lives matter which had existed before then this this concept of Black Lives Matter. We're not even talking about the actual organization. But talking about the hashtag that was asked where it started with it with a hashtag starting about starting with that movement. That's been around since 2011 2012. And so white people didn't become aware of it until 2014. A lot of white people tend to become aware of it since 20, until 2014. So here we are in 2020. With with ahmaud arbery and George Floyd and breonna, Taylor, and the Depop, and the ANA Dior, and Tony McDade, and countless others that that have been murdered, just within the last three months just since or within, I guess, since we found out about it, just within the last couple of months, because of course, Aman and Brianna, they were killed in February and March respectively, they were murdered in February and March respectively. And we didn't find out about their murders. until like, May. And so April, May. And so I think that it's important to to ask this question of where are you? Because there have been so many, just talking about like the black people that have been that have been killed that have been that have been murdered at the hands of police just talking about the police brutality aspect of it. Let's not you know, forget some of the some of the other things like barbecue Becky, and other things were necessarily people weren't necessarily killed, even though some people were killed or were assaulted by the police. Just just the instances of deaths alone, there's been so many things that have happened. There's been this this heightened conversation. So for a person showing up showing up in May of 2020, or June or July of 2020. For me that says that there that you had to have consciously been been sticking your head in the sand, as it were and ignoring what had happened, especially whenever I think you know, about like ahmaud arbery. We've seen that before. That was Trayvon Martin we've seen before where a person deputized by nothing else, but their whiteness, going and killing a black person, a young black person, for no other reason than they were they were someplace where they didn't think that they should be a mod arbery is Trayvon Martin in the daylight, a little bit a little bit older. That's that's really all that is. We've had, I can't breathe. We have had that before. That was that was Eric Garner. That was Eric Garner in New York whenever he was choked. out by the police for selling loose cigarettes. We've seen, we've witnessed that that was his death was on camera. We've seen this before. So why all of a sudden is George Floyd, the the catalyst for you to for you to be here?
Stephen Bradford Long 20:17 Right? Yes. And do you find personally when you have these conversations? And when you ask, or you know, and when people are just kind of waking up to this? Do you find that a lot of white people expect you to kind of pat them on the back and say, Good job?
Ally Henny 20:38 Oh, yeah, absolutely. I think that the way that it kind of comes off is, oh, my goodness, you know, a lot of times people are like, Oh, my goodness, I just had no idea how bad things were. And I say this, and I don't and I understand that. It's all it's all well, meaning. Very rarely is somebody showing up. Like, I'm the, you know, I'm the best thing that's ever happened to social justice. And Archie so glad that I'm here. Most people know nobody, nobody really does that. But most people show up with the other show up with like, their white guilt and contrition. And so it's like, Oh, my goodness, this is so bad. I can't believe things are so bad. Oh, this is a horrible, whatever they they they come they come with it with their white tears. They come with their their anger, they come with it with their with their righteous indignation, which, which, you know, definitely is a valid posture is a valid it's a valid emotion to have to feel to feel righteous indignation, you know, people people come with, with kind of all sorts of, of different different things. There are people that recognize you know, okay, like this. Now, I'm convinced that stuff is bad, you know, it took, it took maybe, you know, three or four things happening, for them to really recognize, as an activist, somebody has been talking about this for a very long time. At this point. There are some people that I've that I've gotten where it's been, like, you know, you've been talking about this for such a long time. And you know, at first I was really offended by what you said. But now I'm starting to see it. Now. I'm finally you know, you have people that that are like, I've seen the light, you have that sort of thing, but but often what it is, and I think that often, what, what, under, what's the undercurrent of all of those things that I just mentioned, is I'm here, please absolve me of my white guilt. So it's like, please, you know, come, oh, High Priestess, of, of racial harmony, racial healing, absolve me absolve me of my sense. And so like, that's, that's something that I think, a lot of white folks that whether or not it and I think that for some people, is definitely conscious, I think that it's definitely there are some people I think that is definitely a conscious, like, I like I need to feel I need to feel better. I think that some people, it's unfair, some people's unconscious, in the sense of, they would never put that language to it. But at the end of the day, especially the ones that go the people who go out of their way to approach black and brown and indigenous people. And like, kind of, you know, we're not really holding hands or touching anybody right now in a pandemic, but but but like, the visual image that I have of this, and the visual image that I have, whenever I get these types of messages is this white person running and gripping both of both of my hands, and and holding them up kind of your clasping them and being like, Oh, this is so bad. Oh, I'm so sorry. Also, so whenever, is that what what's behind that is contrition. It is like, Oh, my goodness, like I need I need for you to help me to feel better. But then also, like I need for you in making me feel better. One of the things, one of the things that I need is reassurance that I'm that I'm still a good white person, because I recognize and acknowledge this, which is why that's often My first question to people or something kind of of that nature. Or if the if the situation maybe is not necessarily appropriate to snatch a wig in that in that respect. Often, you know, something that I that I say, in some shape or form is kind of like, Yeah, I've been talking about this for a long time. And so yeah, this has been going on for a minute. Like I try to throw that in there. Because I think that, you know, it's easy, but like what people think that because white people often think whenever that something doesn't exist, until they acknowledge it. Its existence. And so it's like I need I need to, I think that is important to break that down. And for people to realize that social justice didn't begin with them, and it's not going to end with them. And so you know, a lot of people show up thinking that you know, that they're going to solve the problem, that they're that they're now them talking about, and throwing in that somehow, they're going to do something different and better and whatever, then what, then what has already was already being done, and they don't necessarily, and I say, I said earlier, that it's not, I don't think that anybody shows up thinking that they're God's gift to activism or anything like that. But at the same time, I think that just that just kind of what's inherent in whiteness is is kind of like this problem solving. Like I can, like, I have the solutions, I know, know very little, but have, but have a lot of ideas on how things should should be and how things should run and what and what the issue is, and whatever.
Stephen Bradford Long 26:04 When people do that, when when a white person, you know comes up to you and clutches your hands and and you know, kind of gives up gives off that vibe that you just described as Oh, priestess of racial harmony, please absolve me of my white guilt. What is going through your mind and emotions? When that happens? What does that feel like to you?
Ally Henny 26:32 You know, I feel a mix of emotions, if I'm if I can be if I can be frank, I feel a mix of emotions, you know, on the, on the one hand, there's, there's, there's a bit of me that feels because I am I consider myself to be a try to be a compassionate person, you know, I try to I try to be somebody that that my my ethics, you know, my faith and my ethics, move me toward compassion for other people. And, and move me toward forgiveness, move me toward, you know, that that type of thing. At the same time, it also is really frustrating. And it's also so there's kind of like this mix of things. For me. Honestly, like, whenever, whenever I encounter that type of thing, I try to be as as gracious and as humble as I can in the situation. And recognize, okay, you know, they, they are at least trying and acknowledging that somebody they're at least trying and so we know great, wonderful. But there but there's an aspect of it to that depending on on who it is and what it is and kind of how how much of a scene they're making out of it. There's an aspect of it that is kind of humiliating, in the sense of, like, this is really thick, this is really awkward. It's kind of like whenever a person's emotions don't don't necessarily match the situation at hand. And so you're kind of like you know, somebody like, figuratively like weeping on you it's not that you don't have compassion on them. It's not that you don't that you don't you know, you're just like this this hard hearted person. It's like, No, you know, I hate your emotions. At the same time is sort of like okay, like, this is like pull yourself together fam. Like so there's like that really? That really is kind of like okay, like Yeah, I get it like yeah, white people do a lot of stuff is trash like I get it like you're like You're like you are really embarrassed and you to be right white right now. Like yeah, totally, totally understand it. But okay, I need for you to pull yourself together. Because what that gets into is so for me kind of where that where that compassion piece where that where there's where there's where there's tension there for me is that of course you know I want to be I want to be compassionate. I want to acknowledge the person and kind of know the other it all of their their dignity and worth as a person yet at the same time, the subject matter is you have been in a position of oppression and sometimes it's sometimes you know, having a relationship with with the person to where it's like if this is somebody that I that I as I've known and have had has had a relationship with in some way and they come to me and this is kind of like okay, but you're but you're complicit in my oppression so like you know, glad that you feel bad about that or glad that you that you that you feel bad about some aspect of of that that you're becoming aware of how you personally have been complicit and in my in my oppression, but at the end of the day, like you coming to me with your white tears like that's really Not that that's not doing anything that that that is more for you than it is for me, right. And so, so that so it's like you so I say all that is like there's a tension of having a passion on, okay, you know what you're coming to me you have emotions that are that are valid, and are at least worth acknowledging that like, okay, you know, you have whatever feelings that you that you have, and you have a right to those feelings, but then also, just just bringing the truth of this is something that has been used, but like, I'm glad that you are finally aware, I'm glad that you are that you are finally listening. But you are finally deciding to hear people what people like me have been saying, for a very long time, for centuries. Even. That's, that's great. That's, that's wonderful that you've done that. But okay, you know, pull yourself together, and you need to get out there and you need to do the work because at the end of the day, like your white tears don't do anything. Your white tears, don't your white tears in my in my you know, Facebook messages, your white tears and an email, your white tears in a message on Twitter in a Twitter thread or whatever, that does nothing for my liberation. that exercise is merely for you. Yeah. And so I like I said, acknowledging the human component of it, but also saying, okay, great, you did that you cried your tears, dry your face, and go out and do better.
Stephen Bradford Long 31:34 I love that. Thank you. So I want to make just a few definite, I want to get a few definitions before we move on. So there are just a few words that you used in the conversation so far that people who might be new to this have might not know what this means. What do you mean by whiteness?
Ally Henny 31:56 Whiteness, so yeah, so basically, whenever I say whiteness, I don't necessarily mean being a white person, even though being a white person is part of whiteness, what whenever I say whiteness, often I am referring to the culture, the system, that that tells certain people that because of their skin color, or the perception of what their skin color is, or their their ancestry, whatever, there's this there's this whole system that was created by people who were from Western Europe, a lot of them namely, your the British Isles, namely the people, not just the British Isles, but also but also us Portuguese. Also some of the people who were out here, trading slaves way back in the day, there is there is a system that confers social benefit on people who are able to to fit into certain social criteria to be white. And what a lot of people don't realize is that some of the people who we consider to be white today are white, whenever they in America, were not white when they first or whenever their immigrant group first arrived in America, most notably the Irish, we will consider Irish we will be White would like today, a lot of us will be like, oh, yeah, Irish people. Yeah, yeah, they're white, but whatever. But incidentally, Irish people first started immigrating to the United States. They were not considered white, they they largely are Catholic. They largely are not don't fit into that because that kind of lost that white Anglo Saxon Protestant mold. So they were considered to be another group. And so a lot of them because they they didn't have some of the some of the ties to Britain, they didn't have the lineage. Some of them didn't have the nobility. They didn't they didn't have the resources or means that a lot of their British descended counterparts did. They came into the United States as a as a very kind of poor kind of working class group of people. But what happened was, is because because I started writing here during slavery, a lot of them became became slave masters or became became overseers some of them even were able to social climb enough to be able to own a little bit of land and to own slaves. And that was considered a thing that was that was that made one's social standing behind it, but by and large, a lot of a lot of Irish people were poor. What ended up happening is Irish people at first were kind of, you know, they because they were oppressed economically. There was some sympathies there with with slaves, and there became a point in which the white landed gentry recognize that If the Irish and if other poor people, other poor people, or other poor, quote unquote white people, if they could if they could identify with the social struggle of people who were enslaved, because a lot of the Irish people, and a lot of Scottish people, a lot of British people who were who were poor and who were debtors, they entered into India, they came over here and entered into indentured servitude, which was a condition of servitude, that they, a lot of them were in it for seven years, and then they can't get out of it. Whereas slavery was a perpetual condition that it became it quickly became codified that slavery was, somebody could be born a slave, and people and family lines could be born into slavery in perpetuity. And so what some of these people in power recognized was that these poor people would, that they could, they had more cause often with the slaves, it was the people who were enslaved. And so the people who were in power made it more beneficial to be white, to be to be to be identified with some of these with some of these other other groups that really weren't considered white, they kind of grandfathered them into whiteness. And so that's sort of that as long winded but it is actually a lot more complicated in how people became white how people in how people with a certain skin color in the United States became became white. So every group from from Europe and from Eastern Europe and from other from other parts of the world that have immigrated in there, they go through kind of this period of whether or not people are whether or not society is going to to to determine them to be white and then as people intermarry, and as always other types of stuff happens. There's, there's this there's this, there's this kind of trajectory that a lot of cultures have taken, where they the idea of the American melting pot, where basically like, like this, this was something that you even Schoolhouse Rock, had an episode talking about the melting pot, what people don't tell you about the melting pot, is that it took Is that is that whiteness, this idea that the dominant culture in America took what what it could appropriate, took what it deemed worthy from other cultures, and and kind of blended them in to this homogenous kind of thing. That's why you have a lot of white people who and I hate this, and I even hate to say it, but a lot of white people will talk about themselves as being much better. And I hate that I hate that phrase. Because it's so humanizing it. So whatever, but they use this phrase, and they'll talk about, and a lot of them aren't really Irish, but that's the whole thing. Everybody wants to claim to be Irish, like, because that's the kind we favorable, but it's not. But like, back in the day, nobody wanted to be Irish, because Irish people weren't white, and they had no power. But now as they pass today, everybody's Native American ancestry to with that score, that that score, that's a different, that's a different thing. But people talk about you. I'm German, and I'm Swiss, and I'm Irish. And I'm English, and I'm Slovak, and all these other types of things, where wherever they're wherever their people first came off the boat a lot. Those groups don't have nothing to do with one another. Yes, yeah. Yeah, they, they wanted to be together yet. Now, those identities, some of them are, some of them exist in people. And it's, it's a figment of people's imaginations, it's not really what they were people were something else. And they said that they were German, or whatever, for whatever reason. But those identities are able to coexist. And people You very rarely hear about hostility. You might there might be used in ethnic like, especially in places that are that are a little bit more diverse, like Chicago, or like New York or whatever, where there are these different different ethnic in clubs, where historically have been different ethnic enclaves. But anyway, so all that to say that whiteness is this thing that was constructed, basically, so people who looked a certain way and who had certain privileges so they could retain that power, and then inflict oppression on people who are black, inflict oppression on people who were of Asian descent, inflict inflict oppression and genocide on indigenous people. And so it's something so that's essentially what I mean that's, that's super long winded. But that's essentially what what whiteness is, and hopefully your listeners understand that that convoluted idea or definition of what it is.
Stephen Bradford Long 39:44 I mean, thank you for that, because I actually think really, that that that amount of detail is necessary. I mean, this is historical. This is this goes back centuries. This is something you know, it isn't just an arbitrary. It Yeah, I mean it is It isn't arbitrary. And I think a lot of white people, you know, they they kind of Buck against the term whiteness, not really understanding that it has to do with, with social hierarchies and a cased system that, at least that's how I see it. And it's an it's a social construct. And you know, history over time has determined who and who, who is and who isn't, you know, this hierarchy has determined
Ally Henny 40:29 through this honorary status. Like that's the other thing too. Yes. Yes. Who gets who gets to be honorary white people?
Stephen Bradford Long 40:35 Yes. Well, so thank you so much for sharing that. And the next term that I would I would like to define is white tears. What do you mean, when you say white tears?
Ally Henny 40:48 So yeah, white tears basically, are when a white person realizes for the first time in some cases in their life, what it means for them to be white, not just that they're white, because they're not black, or they're not, or they're not Mexican, or they're not Korean. But they recognize that they're white, and that people who look like them, have and maybe even they themselves, have participate have inflicted oppression upon people, or they have participated wittingly or unwittingly, in systems of oppression. And it's sort of the feeling of guilt. And often there are literal tears that happen. But it can also be a figurative thing, where where that white guilt essentially comes out where people who feel they feel upset, they feel they feel some level of shame, or there's, there's a variety of motion of emotions that kind of are compounded, that that they express, and in those in those kind of spill out of them, whether it be through actual tears, or it be through words, or actions or whatever.
Stephen Bradford Long 42:03 And do you find that? And this is something that I'm personally curious about? Do you find that those white tears can be weaponized in a way that that takes the that takes awareness away? Or the emphasis away from black voices and centering black experience?
Ally Henny 42:26 Yes, absolutely. Because in fact, one aspect of white tears that I didn't, didn't talk about, I was just talking about it in the way that I was using it earlier. But another aspect of, of white tears, and this is something that is often attributed specifically to white women, is white people or white sis women, using their tears as a way using their tears and their whiteness, essentially, white tears being weaponized whiteness, using that as using their tears as a way to either avoid any type of of repercussions or consequences for their racist actions, or using that itself as a racist action or as a way to avoid accountability. And so So some examples of that are go back to you to barbecue. Did barbecue Becky? Or actually, no, no, I'm not gonna use barbecue Becky, I'm going to use Amy Cooper. That's the That's the latest example. She was a white woman in Central Park, who there was a black man, unrelated, as far as we know, whose name is Christian Cooper, who was birdwatching. Amy had her her dog in the park. And I believe the dog was unleashed. And the dog at any rate wasn't supposed to be in the part of the park that they were in or wasn't supposed to be unleashed, because it's a bird area, and the dogs kill birds. And so Christian had said, like, Hey, your dog is supposed to be on leash right now. Like, I'm a bird watcher. I don't want to kill me the birds, whatever, whatever. And so and he was just kind of like, oh, this was a beard a little blah, blah. And so what ended up happening is Christian was video ended up recording her on his phone with it with with video app on his phone, and Amy called decided that she was going to call the police. And what she said, here's the white tears part. If she's talking just the way she is, she's yelling, and she's, she's, she's going back and forth with him. So she says to him, Well, I'm going to call the police and tell them that there's an African American man harassing me in the park. So she calls 911. And she says, and she gets upset. She says, there's an African American man who's who's threatening me in the park. There's an African American man who's threatening me Oh, as she starts she starts crying she as she doesn't get quite the right reaction that she was expecting from the from the operator. She amps up and she's literally she went one moment she's she's talking to Christian just fine, she's she's mad, she's she's there are no tears, there are no anything but then as soon as she's on the phone with the authorities and is calling the cops, she gives this academy award performance of a fear and of being a feeling threatened. And she sounds like she's on the verge of cry. Those are weaponize what those are. Those are white tears as a white woman tears that are that are weaponized. So there's a saying that people say whenever white women cry, people die. And a historical example of that is the woman who reported it till he was just like a 14 year old kid. He said she said that he whistled at her. We know now 5060 years later, that her account of what happened was actually a lie. That woman is actually still alive to this day. And her family has her in hiding. She's she's like 80 something years old? Yeah, I think she's she's 80 something years old now might even be 90 years old. Now. Her family actually has her in hiding. Because they because of how in the in the tooth out, like 2005 2007, something like that whenever there was an investigation into the Emmett Till case as a part of some stuff that they were looking into cold civil rights cases, plate things where, where people were killed, or where the person the person who maybe killed somebody got off. They were the the Justice Department was looking at the FBI. And I think also DOJ was was working to convict people. And so kind of as part of that investigation, they found her got her story, and she admitted to lying. And so this 14 year old boy was killed because of her because of her weaponized white tears. And so her family has her in hiding. Now, woman's still alive. Do you think of it that she wouldn't? That she wouldn't be? But she's, but she's far as that as far as I know, she's still alive and kicking. But yeah. So that so there's an aspect of white tears. That is not just you know, the the guilt aspect. But there's an aspect of white tears, that is actually violent toward that, that the the avoiding accountability aspect of it, where you get called out on something racist. And so white women usually are the ones who do this, they, they start crying and saying that they never, they never meant to do anything wrong, and that they're not racist or whatever. So there's the avoiding accountability aspect of it. But then there's also the aspect of it, of weaponizing the tears as a way to cause harm to black run indigenous people.
Stephen Bradford Long 48:02 Thank you for sharing that. Yeah. And if, and I guess what I am hearing from this, the way I am internalizing this is, you know, I have I have emotions, but I and other white people need to be incredibly mindful of our white tears and the way in which we express our emotions. With that. Would you say that's a fair way of articulating that?
Ally Henny 48:33 Yeah, I would say that that's a fair way of articulating that. And I think that it's that you were talking about tears, but there's also white rage, there's white suspicion, there's white anger, there, there are things that that like there are different emotions, that can that white people experience that can be related to different types forms means of oppression of black, brown and indigenous people of color. And yes, you're you're very, very right, that white people need to be mindful of their emotions they need to be they need to be mindful of their other thought patterns of their of their feelings of all this different type of stuff. Because in situations in certain situations, those things can actually be weaponized. Those things can actually contribute to the V can contribute to the oppression of black brown and indigenous people of color.
Stephen Bradford Long 49:37 Yeah. So say that you Okay, so you've asked the person you've asked the the white person who has just recently, you know, realize that there is a racial problem in this country, you ask them, okay, well, what took you so long? And what's the next question? Or what's the next statement that you tell them?
Ally Henny 50:00 Well, after you, I hear what took them so long. And a lot of times, people don't know, people don't really have an answer for it. People, if they if they offer anything they might offer, they might offer excuses. It might, there might be things, what what that person offers and kind of how they respond to that. Definitely, you know, tells me about where they're at in the process. Because for some people, they're ready, they're ready to go on, you know, they're, they're ready to start to become an ally, coconspirator accomplice, whatever, whatever the word is, I really, there are people that have preferences and have strong preferences around the language in which we describe white people in the work, I will end up in, there are a lot of really good arguments, a lot of good, whatever, and I don't want to diminish or take away from those things. But honestly, I do believe that words matter. But I don't for me, where I'm at, in my, in my practice, the word doesn't actually matter. Ally is just an easy word to say, because it's less, it's way less syllables. It's four characters often or a ll y, I guess it's four, I should know that. That's how you also spelled my name the same way, I should know how many letters are in it. But anyway. So I mean, you know, it's, it's less, it's less characters is less syllables, it's just a lot, it's a lot easier to convey, the term has been around, I think, for a little bit longer. So it is, it is just easier to whatever. So I don't make any bones about that. But I know, but I know people who do, and you know, more power, more power to them for finding that fight. But whatever term that we're using for that this week, a lot of times people's response tells me kind of where they're at. And there's some people who they're, they're ready to kind of be, quote, unquote, in the work, they they recognize, okay, you know, hey, Houston, we have a problem. I'm part of the problem as a white person. And so like, let me like, like, Okay, what do I what do I need to do? Where do I need to go? Who want to do this? Or is there like a third class, I can sign up for like, what? Like, what do I need to do to do better, because I want to do better. There's, there's some folks that that fall into that. So that's a whole different, that's a whole different conversation than somebody who there's some people who, who I would maybe call fragile allies in that they they are, or maybe the better way to say is like fragile sympathizers in that they are sympathetic to the cause, their sympathy, they have sympathy for what's happening, they feel they feel bad, they feel guilty. But at the same time, they're maybe not really ready to do quote, unquote, the work. And what I mean by that, is that yeah, they on a on a human level, they recognize that there's an issue on a human level, they understand that people are upset. And so they, so they want to they want to sympathize. And they want to empathize, but where the fragility comes in, and we could talk about this in terms of in terms of white fragility, but where the where the fragile Enos comes in, where the fragility comes in, is that they that while they're sympathetic, they're not quite ready to admit their own complicity, or to admit the complicity of their family members, or, essentially, they're not ready to reckon with their place in history as a white person, and the implications of their place in history. And so they and so there are aspects of the conversation that they still might be hostile to, there might be some things that they essentially, they just want to, they want to cry the white tears, but they don't actually, like want to do anything about it. And then there are some people who just are they maybe on a human level, feel bad that they want somebody to get choked out on the street. But then once you kind of start to push them toward doing some work, once you start to kind of push them toward working on their white identity, understanding what it means to be a white person, understanding their their place in history, aka their complicity in what in what has happened, there gets to be a point in that, in which some folks get hostile and they and they get and they get angry, and they and they don't want want to hear about it, they feel they get defensive. And so a lot of times those those people until they deal with those feelings, they're they're not going to progress any farther. And in fact, some of those people can can get like really super entrenched in where they are, and actually say and do things that are that are kind of harmful. And yeah, it can it can be a whole scene.
Stephen Bradford Long 54:58 So I I think what I'm hearing is and the way I'm internalizing this is, you know, this is really about being a person of integrity. And the way I put this into, into my context is I was a 12 stepper. And the fourth I forget if it's the fourth or fifth step, but the fourth and fifth step is making a fearless moral inventory. And making a fearless moral inventory is that isn't Is that necessary step to making the world a better place. Like we can't make the world a better place until we admit the ways in which and until I admit the ways in which I have failed, right, like, I can't correct anything I can't. And so for me, I hear this and like, in terms of a fearless moral inventory, and so that I can be a person of greater integrity and actually do something tangible, to try to make the world a better place. And that means making a fearless moral inventory about the ways that I have contributed to white supremacy. Would you say that that's a fair articulation or good way to internalize what you're saying?
Ally Henny 56:15 Yeah, I think that I'm not overly overly familiar with the 12 steps. But I've a passing familiarity and I think that there is, even if you don't think of it in terms of of a 12 step framework, but even just a framework for recovery, there is there are a lot of things that that are in common between route between recovery, and between racism between between recovering from racism, essentially, because in a lot of ways, I think that it is a recovery process that for for people, and I certainly in making those parallels, and in, in in drawing some of the same symbolism, I don't want to diminish the the work that people have done in addiction in addiction counseling, I don't want to diminish the work that you and others have done in in recovery. And so, you know, I hesitate to make the to make a huge, like, say, okay, yeah, this is this, this corresponds to this. And that, because I because I don't, I don't want to chip in that aspect. Because I think that recovery is something that is that is important. There are a lot of there are a lot of people out there who have struggles with various addictions. And so I don't want to, I don't want to in any way, your co opt or or keep in that process. But I do. But with that said, I do think that there are aspects of whiteness, that create the same needs, into it to recover from that recovering from addiction does, and namely, the things that have to do with making amends with with the people who you've harmed, but then there's also in recovery, there's also doing work on yourself, that that helps you to be able there's doing work within yourself, that you recognize what maybe some of the sources of your addiction are what were the things why you why you would use whatever substance or whatever thing it was to cope. There are there are some definitely some some parallels there. And so I see that, you know, within with with white people, there is with whiteness, there's this aspect that you have to understand how your actions as a white person, affect have affected the people of color in your life or just in society in general. And sometimes that process might require listening to people and might require hearing, hearing painful stories of you know, when when I was you know, working at your at your at the place this place of employment, you set and did this whenever you said this racist thing and did and did this racist thing and this is how it impacted me. And you might have to sit and hear and hear that and make amends for it and and you know, sit sit with the the the pain and discomfort that it causes you to hear that at the same time. There's work on your identity that you have to do as a white person and recognizing some of that some of the areas some of the some of the ways in which your your your your participation in the system. You're witting and unwitting participation in the system has has oppressed others and so there are things that you have to do to recognize that to avoid Avoid doing certain things. And sometimes that's sometimes those things are things that feel good, that might feel good. I mean, you I think that that white savior ism is is one thing. You know, there are there are people out there who love to help. And they, they, they are helpers by nature, and they love to help, but their help their idea of helping big comes off in a way that is toxic and harmful to other people. And it's rooted in ideas about other people a bet is rooted in ideas about people from from other, from other civilizations, people from other parts of society. And so part of that work is is saying, Okay, well you know, your desire to help people, that's okay, but you're saying that you're going to, you know, go to the south side of Chicago, and you're gonna go on, you're gonna live on all these people. Because they because, you know, they're all they don't have fathers and they're all oppressed in their own gangs, blah, blah, blah. That comes off as super to humanizing the people who are who are actually there. So yeah, you know, we can, we can say, like, hey, they're, they're dirt, there certainly are some issues on the Southside of Chicago, but you and your little nonprofit organization aren't going to solve half of them. And you're actually going to create a bunch of new problems. Because all because it because you are approaching these people like their projects and not like, a are actual human beings with with a story. And with a with a reason for acting the way that they that they do, and you just see them as your as your pets, that you can that you can gather around them, and post for pictures and posted on Instagram. And so, um, so I think that you know, that there's a there's an aspect and for some people, it takes some work for people to admit, to be able to say, you know, what, I'm a white person, you know, by my name, my name is Karen, and I'm a woman who weapons who has weaponized her tears before, like, there's like there's, there's a process that people that people have to go through to recognize that and there's not, there's not, you know, an end to it. A white people are always going to be peeling back the layers of the onion of their whiteness. You know, I'm 35 years old, I've been black for all 35 of those years. Even you know, somebody that that so I mean, I'm almost midlife now. So somebody who's who's 70 years old, who decides to, to enter into racial justice work? Well, guess what, I have a 35 year headstart on them. Even somebody who's older, anybody who shows up, it's like, I have it. And if they've been in it for a while, but I've been you know, I've been I have marched with Dr. King, you know, Bernie Sanders, guess what, I have a 35 year headstart on being a black woman over over even you know, some of the some of the most sympathetic white people who have been in the work for longer than I've been alive, there are still layers that have to be the have to be pulled back.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:03:23 I so appreciate that. Thank you for sharing that. And, you know, I, you know, I am a gay person. And I often find myself having to tell people, you know, tell tell clueless straight people. I am the one who's gay. Why, like, why are you like, Oh, my God, you know, like, why am and you know, not to compare black experience to gay experience. But there are a few, there are a few ways in which they, they're Yeah, there are a few ways in which they rhyme. You know, there are a few ways in which there's overlap and, and I think, you know, one of the things that I hear people of color articulate it that I relate with so hard, is just all these conversations with, with straight people who are new to understanding the issue. And they it's like, they come to me with this doctoral thesis about what it means to be gay, and the theology of it, and what to do about it. And I'm like, you literally just realized all of this yesterday, like, like, like, you literally just started this last week. I'm the one who has been living this every single day for 32 years. Yeah. Oh, my God is the most frustrating thing. So I I appreciate what you're saying. They're hardcore. Uh, well, I think this is a great note to end on. And I think I'm going to, I kind of want to bring this episode back to that, to that question, what took you so long. And I would really love for my listeners, if you happen to be one of those people who has just recently woken up to the realities of racial injustice and brutality against people of color, I encourage you to take the time, and ask yourself, what took you so long, maybe journal with it, you know, maybe maybe journal about it, talk it through with friends, if you have a spiritual advisor, talk it through with them. And there might be some rough emotions in there. Don't be afraid of them, just let that big wave crash over you. It won't kill you, I promise, though, your emotions are not going to kill you. And just do a really honest assessment. And and I think that's a good start. Is there anything that you would like to add?
Ally Henny 1:06:19 No, I really think that you said it all. I think that that is that that is a great place to start starting with those questions. I like how you said to journal on it, whatever. I think that that's that, that that is an important aspect of it to do the work and to do the processing internally, I think is is really important. You know, a lot of folks want to, you know, jump out and want to externally process and like you said, like, come up with that with that doctoral thesis, and bring it to, to their to to their favorite black or queer person, or black and queer person, and be like, Oh, hey, do you I just came up with this thing. And it's like, okay, that really wasn't a big revelation. But thank you.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:07:07 Thank you for that I appreciate.
Ally Henny 1:07:10 Thank you for first stating for stating the obvious what has been obvious but great, he realized that awesome. Tell your people about it. But yeah, but I think that going through that phase of processing it internally, and if you need to externally process, maybe externally processing with your favorite white person who is farther down the line in the work, then you are, I think that that's something that that's, that's really important. Because it'll say it'll save you and me and other people of color, a lot of emotional labor and a lot of hurt feelings, and a lot of whatever. If you if you do that, if you kind of have you know, what I say there's like having a talk with us on that, like really saying, talk to Jesus, if that's not what you do, but the idea is like, you know, you have you take that to somebody, and if Jesus is your higher power, talk to Jesus about it, you know, talk to whoever whoever was, whoever it is about it. But you but you're, you're doing that stuff in in your own kind of kind of space, and not and not invading, and not invading people of color space with it.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:08:23 For people who want to find your work, where can they do that?
Ally Henny 1:08:28 Yeah, so I have a Facebook page is just my name. It's a public page. It's I think that the list that the category on is writer or whatever, and so I have a so I have that I post there pretty much daily, during the pandemic, before the pandemic, I had posts that would go up every single day, at the same time, since like pandemic and really actually even say, since pandemic really since I finished with school and everything, I've been kind of taking taking a little bit easy. So those posted ability to come but they might, but they might come at different times a day. But the good thing is that I also have started posting multiple times a day so you get to see my my ideas and revelations or whatever you wanna call them multiple times today. So that's so that's one way that you can that you can get in contact with me that you can see my work. The other is on Twitter. My Twitter handle is at the armchair calm. And so you can I post threads on there that seems to be like a lot of what of what I post recently, it seems as of late that's been that's been the majority of what I do. And there's some good threads on there if I don't say so myself. I'm also on Instagram. Just just my name Ali Henny at Allegheny and I post you can kind of see a little bit more of a glimpse into my personal life but I do post stuff related that that's that's topical, on Instagram. There is also my blog The armchair commentary that's just the armchair commentary.com And I try to post to that weekly recently I try to post to it weekly I did not make it last week but I but I'm definitely you'll see more stuff there regularly and then I have a podcast called combing the ropes that is available pretty much wherever podcasts are available I think there's a few there are a few platforms that that it hasn't made it to yet but definitely you know, on on I guess the big three Apple Spotify and Google podcasts who you can find me there and then after you have donated to sacred tension if you have anything left over and obviously you know don't feel like it's like a whatever any type of pressure but I do have a patreon that's my name and you I tried to try to throw all kinds of extra materials and different stuff out on there every month so if once you've once you have you've given here and if and if you help to support then if you have any any other leftover you can head over to my Patreon and so yeah that's that's pretty much it.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:11:18 Or you know just reverse that and just go give money to ally All right, thank you so much. This has been a delight. You're welcome on the podcast anytime anytime you want to come on and chat just let me know.
Ally Henny 1:11:32 Well, thank you. I thank you so much for having me. It's been great.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:11:36 All right. Well, that is it for this show. Special thanks once again to my patrons who make this podcast possible. If you want to respond to this podcast I want to hear from you. You can send me your thoughts by going to Steven Bradford long forward slash contact or you can leave a comment on the blog page for this episode. If your comment is particularly excellent, I will feature it in my monthly best comments series. Also this podcast is written produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long the music is by the jelly rocks and eleventy seven you can find them on iTunes Spotify or wherever you listen to music and it is a production of rock candy media and as always Hail Satan we'll see you next week I was six years old Thanks. She Just To pay respect