A Conversation Between Lama Tsomo and Konda Mason: Allyship vs. Partnering

The following blog is an excerpt from a conversation between Lama Tsomo and Konda Mason on June 6, 2020. Konda Mason is a dear friend of Lama Tsomo’s, an accomplished businesswoman, community organizer, activist, and meditation teacher.

Konda:

There's this tendency right now for white people to want to be an ally. I don't subscribe to the word ally. I'll tell you why. An ally is someone who is helping someone else with a problem. Like, “This is your issue and I'm going to be an ally to it.” That position takes absolutely no responsibility for the problem. This whole racial construct is something that white people invented and its ramifications. So, the idea that you want to be an ally to me or to any person of color, or a black person, is something that I really don't ascribe to. This is not black people's problem. Anything around race is not black people's problem. It is a construct and a system that was invented and created to prioritize a certain group of people over another. We have all had our places and have been complicit.

To say I want to ally with you is not the right relationship. It's not the right relationship. I'm in an email chain right now with some beautiful people who just brought this up yesterday. It’s one of my things, this word ally. Someone sent me an email saying, you know, the young people today, the young black people today, are saying “accomplice.” Like you're an accomplice. They don't like the word ally, but they're taking on the word accomplice. I haven't come up with the right word that works for me, but if there's anything close to it, it's a partner. We are partnering in this situation. It means co-responsibility.

An ally is not doing me, or people of color, or black people, any kind of help or favor. It's like, what do you need to look at? What changes need to be made? You know internally and externally as the Buddha said. I am just wanting to throw that into the room. The virtual room here. This is not black people's problem. And taking full responsibility, whether you created at it or not you know, because you didn’t. You came into this world like this, you didn't create this. I didn't create it; you didn't create it. And yet we all have responsibility for it. To transform it. That's kind of where I'm at. White folks really need to look at, talk to each other, and figure this out. Figure out how to deconstruct white supremacy. It has to be deconstructed if we're going to do anything, if we're really going to do anything that's transformative. 

Lama Tsomo:

That’s right. And it’s for the benefit of the whole country. All of us. It is an everybody problem. Yeah, I love the word partnering.

Konda:

Yeah, I think that might be it. It feels way better to me. 

Lama Tsomo:

Yeah, because it has the autonomy of each and the connection in partnership. That working together on equal footing. 

Konda:

Yeah. Otherwise it continues to be absolving a responsibility on the white side of the equation. It feels that way to me. So, don’t ally with me.

Lama Tsomo:

Partner, yeah. There’s something in the way you're talking about ally. It brings to light the fact that it seems that I could volunteer and make myself feel good, if I want to, but I don’t have to. I could just sit in my privilege and not. You know there's that little connotation and partnering is a different kind of stepping up.

Konda:

Yeah. Yeah. It is. When you’re a partner with somebody everybody has equal responsibility to take care of the business. 

Lama Tsomo:

Yeah, we’ve got to clean it up.

Konda:

That’s exactly right.

 

Want to listen to the whole conversation between Lama Tsomo and Konda? You can do that here.

Interested in learning more? Check out this article by Ernest Owens, award-winning journalist and CEO of Ernest Media Empire, LLC., written for Philly Magazine, titled “White People, Please Stop Declaring Yourself Allies.”

Published on Jul 02 09 : 00 AM