#IllRideWithYou and Other Kinds of Great Allyship

In the 4 weeks after 9/11 I wore a headscarf to school. I was 12. I did it because I had heard on the news Muslim women were being shot at for wearing visible symbols of their faith. I thought it was the most unfeminist thing I could think of to attack women for what they were wearing. I have written about this before, about the value of being a red herring.

Me with the red coat and headscarf at my cousin Daniel's baptism in Los Angeles.
Me with the red coat and headscarf at my cousin Daniel’s baptism in Los Angeles shortly after 9/11. Photo Credit: Katy Dickinson.

Today the #IllRideWithYou hashtag is the only positive thing to come out of the horror and confusion of the Sydney hostage crisis. The hashtag is a promise made by non-Muslim Australians to ride public transit with Australian Muslims who (rightly) fear public violence. How do I know it is positive?

Because I have seen a number of my Muslim friends independently post about how it made them feel. How that hashtag and the pictures and actions behind it made them feel safer, gave them ground on which to say: Man Haron Monis does not represent Islam.

It is also my new favorite example of allyship done well. It is an accepted offer of support from people with more power and privilege to people with less power and privilege. It is a visceral show of support at a moment when blood is running hot. It is also a use of technology that–at least in my social circles–has left my some of my friends feeling inspired, safer, and more included. That is what allyship should feel like.

That is the best thing I have seen a hashtag do all year.

Update 2:01am 16/12/14: One of my friends who posted about #illridewithyou online has agreed to let me post his comment here as an example. In posting a link to an article about the hashtag, Yasser Masood Khan said: “There is glimmer of hope that the actions of a few won’t taint the daily lives of many.”

Inspirational Quote:

“Now I’m not Murphy, but I’ve done fine. And I try to help young black guys coming up because those people took chances on me. Eddie didn’t have to put me in Beverly Hills Cop II. Keenen Wayans didn’t have to put me in I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. Arsenio didn’t have to let me on his show. I’d do the same for a young white guy, but here’s the difference: Someone’s going to help the white guy. Multiple people will. The people whom I’ve tried to help, I’m not sure anybody was going to help them.” — Chris Rock, The Hollywood Reporter, 2014

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