By Sasha Rivera '19
Upon hearing the word “ally,” a person’s first thoughts might be of solely the LGBTQ+ community, with which the word is commonly associated. However, Ally Month is meant to support all marginalized and oppressed groups. Support and allyship is intersectional and reaches beyond just one social cause. At Scripps College, SCORE hosted Ally Month in October, giving students opportunities to attend workshops, dialogues, and trainings to work on allyship, challenge personal privileges, and recognize their identities and systems of power.
“Ally Month has taken place each fall semester for the past four years,” Victoria Verlezza, Assistant Director at SCORE, said. “Every year the general idea is the same: all oppression is connected. In other words, intersections of identity exist and in order to better understand allyship, we must acknowledge those intersections. The idea behind Ally Month is not to teach people how to be allies but how to exhibit allyship behavior. Ally isn’t a noun; it should be a verb.”
Many different allyship events were held all throughout the month of October. The last one, “Counting on the Cuentos” with Leticia Hernández-Linares ‘94, will be held on Nov. 5 at the Motley Café. At this event, Hernandez-Linares, a Scripps alumna, will perform her poemsongs, describe her experience living as an artist in the Mission District of San Francisco and her interactions with the community though art and poetry, and discuss her reliance on stories and how she makes them count. Some other Ally Month opportunities included a screening of MTV’s “White People” on Oct. 9 at Vita Nova, “Busting it Open: Columbus Day” on Oct. 11 at the SCORE living room where students discussed the hidden truths about this day, and “Catch-a-Phrase” on Oct. 28 at the Routt Living room, during which students and their RAs played Catch Phrase to learn about using inclusive language.
“It is important that Scripps or any college really, focus on how we as humans collude with systems of domination because the academic side of the house is educating about how to dismantle those systems and dismantling starts with self-awareness,” said Verlezza when asked about the importance of having these types of events at the school. “It’s so important for Scripps students to do self-work and become self-aware in order to better break down and critique systemic oppression.”
One of the critiques of allyship is often that sometimes too much focus is placed upon the allies’ statements and actions over those of the marginalized group. In addition, there are instances in which allies can overstep their boundaries and no longer act as proper supporters for a movement. Some people struggle with how to be “good” allies and when that point is truly achieved. Verlezza gave her perspective on the topic of “good” allies and how one can actively support groups and causes.
“Ally isn’t a badge you can claim. Rather, ally is something you get from a person of a marginalized identity. But even then, ally isn’t a badge, it’s an action. As a person with a few marginalized identities, I feel like there are a good group of folks exhibiting allyship behavior on campus. That being said, we all have work to do, there is no such thing, in my opinion, as a ‘good ally’ because it’s a continuous process. Learning and working on oneself should never end; therefore, no one should achieve the ‘good’ status. I myself am constantly assessing and reassessing my whiteness and am always making sure I am very aware of my identities in various spaces,” she said.
Overall, Ally Month offered students the chance to participate in multitudes of workshops and dialogues to exemplify allyship and help to create a more inclusive environment at Scripps College.