Confronting Racism

 Glenn Bigonet, M.A.

Social Activist for Racial Equity

Facilitating Discussions about Racism





Optical Allyship


Optical Allyship is when white people take actions to show that they are against racism that are simply show rather than actions that will put the individual at any personal risk that will truly be antiracist. Optical allyship is another form of white fragility that usually incorporates a combination of white centrality, tokenism, and white saviorism. The actions surrounding these behaviors that are more designed to make the white person look good than really address the true issues of racism reinforce white supremacy by keeping the needs of white people above the needs of people of color.


True allyship with people of color is described by writer Amelie Lamont as:

  • "Taking on the struggle as your own
  • Standing up, even when you feel scared 
  • Transferring the benefits of your privilege to those who lack it
  • Acknowedging that while you, too, feel pain, the conversation is not about you"(Saad, p.160) 

Layla Saad adds that "while optical allyship centers people with privilege, actual allyship centers those who are marginalized."(p.160) Clearly those of us who are pursuing this path of antiracism have to keep an awareness of who we are focussing our attention on so as to not fall into the trap of optical allyship as opposed to true allyship.

Copyright © 2020   Glenn Bigonet, M.A.