Discussion Questions for Chapter 3 of No Innocent Bystanders

Craigo-Snell, Shannon and Christopher Doucot. No Innocent Bystanders: Becoming an Ally in the Struggle for Justice. Louisville, Presbyterian Publishing: 2017.

February 8, 2018—Chapter 3: Resources for Being an Ally

1. What did you think about Doucot and Craigo-Snell’s description of anger as an expression of hope? What work might you need to do in order to accommodate such an understanding of anger? What beliefs or practices might you need to adjust? 


2. the Rev. Dr. Lewis Brogdon remarks that “It is hard to get allies to even acknowledge that they have a lot of homework to do.” Craigo-Snell and Doucot go on to name some of that homework:

As allies, we must begin by learning about the day-to-day experiences of people who are not in the dominant culture. We must learn how interactions with the police unfold when the person pulled over is African American. We must learn about the obstacles faced by LGBTQ adolescents. We have to, in effect, relearn the world. (77)

What homework do each of us have to do? What opportunities do we have to test our understanding of this homework? How might we adjust our selections as a reading group in order to help us to this homework and testing?


3. Doucot and Craigo-Snell explore the intersection between humility and prudence by saying that:

If the largest part of prudence is to “get our cousins” rather than attempting to “save” those who are oppressed, another part is discerning when the privilege afforded us as members of dominant communities can be leveraged in support of marginalized groups. While allies should not seek the spotlight, it would be foolish to miss an opportunity if we are already in one. (82)

Who are your “cousins”? Where is your “spotlight”?


4. In exploring the virtue of temperance, Craigo-Snell and Doucot observe that:

White people often advocate organizing without realizing that this means some people must be willing to be organized. Or, more likely, without imagining themselves in the role of “organized” rather than “organizer.” Following the leadership of marginalized groups has proved so difficult for allies that an unfortunate philosophy of allyship has emerged that emphasizes the need for allies to “take leadership” from organizers from within the marginalized group with which they are allied. (89-90)

When have you found yourself wanting to organize folks who are unwilling to be organized. What motivations might they have had for resisting your well-meant attempts?