Discussion on coalition building with pioneering thinkers and writers.

Featuring Shone Faye (snort) and Ellie Mae O’Hagan (double snort), oh, and up-and-coming socialite Emma Dabiri.

About this event

Join 5×15 online for a conversation on the theme of coalition-building with pioneering thinkers and writers. Chaired by Ellie Mae O’Hagan

Best-selling and ground-breaking authors Emma Dabiri – What White People Can Do Next: From Allyship to Coalition – and Shon Faye – The Transgender Issue – will discuss their work, our current divisions and how we can come together to tell a new story and unite seemingly disparate areas. 

In What White People Can Do Next, Emma Dabiri’s best-selling manifesto tackling our current discourse on race, she argues that we require “an understanding, not so much of an intersectionality of identities, but an intersectionality of issues. Linking our struggles together is the work of coalition-building, a vision wherein many people can see their interests identified and come together for a common good. We can start to tell new stories, rather than fall back along fault lines that were designed to divide us, to better exploit us.”

Shon Faye’s debut book, The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice, is an urgent manifesto for change, calling for justice and solidarity between all marginalized people and minorities. Through coalition building, can we move from theory into practice and find a path to create a more just, free and joyful world for us all?

Don’t miss this thought-provoking and timely discussion.

From the Eventbrite blurb (abridged)

The panel

Ellie Mae O’Hagan really needs no introduction, but just on the off chance you didn’t see it, O’Hagan recently bought herself to international attention on SM with this intellectual google.

You know, I actually don’t know why some people are women, and why some people are men, no one on this panel does, and anyone who claims to know the answer to that question is a liar.

See tweet above – Politics Live BBC1, 17 November 2021

She is a journalist and director for a left wing think tank called the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS). O’Hagan is also bezzie mates with Talcum X. Nuff said.

Shon Faye recently won lots of plaudits for his book The Transgender Issue, which is still selling well. He previously worked at Stonewall. He is a trans-identified male, famous for telling women to ‘enjoy ur erasure’. But let’s not forget the awful poetry (I made it up to ‘I’m yas Queen, I’m a goddess’).

Finally, there was Emma Dabiri, who has written What White People Can Do Next – From Allyship to Coalition, a self help book aimed primarily at white women. Interestingly she also has an agent, who touts her as one of the broadcasting stars of the future, meaning she can read an autocue (she sure as hell can’t talk off the top of her head).


O’Hagan told us that when she was offered the chance to host the discussion she responded within ten seconds of reading the email. There have only been three books in the last ten years which have changed her life, two of which were authored by Faye and Dabiri, which is surprising since both these topics have been covered ad infinitum by loads of people, and I’m wondering how much personal friendships have intervened in this opinion.

O’Hagan told us that Shon Faye had very recently been fêted at Trinity College, Dublin for his ‘public discourse’ (not the sort where he tells women to eff-off we hope), whilst Dabiri had won something at Cannes, which is nice. She had also been on a best seller list for her racist book.

The point of the debate was to find out how to coalition build; but only with people you basically agree with as it turns out. O’Hagan told us that there was a narrative being built around the idea that migrants and trans people were the enemy of the working class and said that in Parliament that very day there was a plan a foot to privatise the whole of the NHS (there wasn’t).

Chat was turned off and the questions sent in could only be viewed by the panel.

Question 1: About allyship

O’Hagan pretended that Faye and Dabiri have some radically different notions about how to do allyship than the ones being constantly pumped out, and asked them about what these (non-existent) differences were.

Faye complained about the corporates who virtue signal their allyship credentials, i.e. when powerful corporations socially engineer changes in society, which favour men like him, this is ‘patronising’ and ‘condescending’. He also finds it ‘grating’. Then, unbelievably, he told us that there was a lot more going on in the world than just transphobia and that he wanted to focus on the bigger picture. We very much look forward to his next book: The Bigger Picture Issue.

Dabiri completely agreed with Faye. She also wanted to look at the bigger picture and didn’t like ‘atomisation’. Like Faye she finds the tenet of allyship patronising and believes it reinforces the power dynamic (between black and white) and fails to interrogate how ‘people who are racialised as white’ experience diminished opportunities as a result of capitalism. The allyship narrative thus far had failed to address this. Not only that, but many white people who are allies make the mistake of believing that they are being benevolent or charitable, and thus fall into the trap of ‘white saviourism’ (akin to a cardinal sin for the woke).

Dabiri, who has written a book advising white people on how to be allies, told us ‘do not expect to be taught or shown’ how to do allyship. In her next sentence she got even more confused and said that ‘Google is your friend’ (aka ‘educate yourself’). Yet explained this was also a no-no, because she had actually Googled ‘anti-racism’ as part of her research for her book and had found lots of advice which perpetuated the ‘victim and saviour’ narrative. Not only that but it appeared that the advice seemed to suggest that the ally’s needs were secondary to that of the group they were supporting. Dabiri believes you won’t get people involved if they have to sacrifice themselves (rather forgetting we would have to sacrifice £6 to buy her book to find out more). Moreover she was worried about the racism of the people who would be ‘aroused’ by that kind of narrative. That’s the one she is explicitly pushing herself.

It’s all so confusing.

Question 2: How do we move past racism, misogyny and transphobia being a series of interpersonal relations, without seeing it as something more structural?

Was the next question. Which doesn’t make any sense. It was just a lot of words which happened to fall from O’Hagan’s mouth. However, Faye was game and said that history was full of examples and managed to name one, that of the USA’s Black Panther and Gay Lib movements. A Black Panther leader had asked members to stop publicly using words like faggot. Faye wasn’t able to explain exactly how they helped each other, and given the Black Panthers were formed in 1966, just two years before Martin Luther King’s death, they were very much riding on the coattails of the already established Black Civil Rights movement.

Allies, Faye said, are so scared of doing something wrong, they end up not doing anything. It was also not necessary to understand everything about the other group, especially religious groups. Which put me in mind about the curious relationship between the left and islamic jihadists. Just a week earlier a jihadist had blown himself up outside a maternity hospital in Liverpool – tumbleweed from the panel on that, so perhaps that’s it – a tacit agreement to not criticise each other’s actions.

Dabiri also gave an example from the US, that of the coalition between the white supremacist Young Patriots and Fred Hampton of the Black Panther/Rainbow Coalition movement. The coalition was so successful the Young Patriots stopped being racist. You heard it here first, it IS okay to work with white supremacists.

Question 3: You have both written books within a year of each other which advocate coalition building – what inspired you and was it anything to do with the moment that we’re in?

Dabiri lied and said that she had never wanted to talk about allyship before, despite being asked repeatedly to do so. However, the aftermath Floyd George’s murder changed that. Yes, you heard that correctly the famous murder of Floyd George. I suppose anyone can mix up a name, but it takes a special person to a) not realised they’ve done it, and b) not be corrected by anyone on the panel. Dabiri that it had created a historic opportunity for allyship which she did not want squandered by an anti-racist narrative.

Dabiri claimed that the idea of race was created in the 17th Century to justify slavery in the Caribbean and the United states, echoing claims I have heard from genderists that sex was discovered at that time. Like genderists, she believes that people are either ‘racialised’ as white or black, rather than actually being white or black. So, how can we tell who is black or white then?

Allow me a diversion. This webinar was held the day after a black man and BLM supporter drove his SUV through crowds of (mainly white) children having a Christmas Day parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Waukesha is close to Kenosha where Kyle Rittenhouse, described by mainstream media as a ‘white supremacist’, had just been cleared of the murder of two white men. It seems plausible that Brooks’ motivation was racial and in direct response to the not guilty verdict. If the races had been reversed we know that the panel would have been in full condemnation mode. We know that they didn’t ignore it because it wasn’t in the UK, because nearly all their cultural references were American. Yet no one mentioned it – did they not know, or just not care? Five people died and 40 were injured, many seriously, including children.

Faye on the other hand had been happy to see the growth of trans visibility with ‘equality’ glimmering on the horizon, all but dashed by Boris Johnson’s government, which had been the most ‘homophobic and overtly transphobic’ since Thatcher’s time. Funny that, because there is currently a rushed-through consultation on ‘conversion therapy’, which might criminalise therapists for talking with their clients about their sexuality or gender identity. The proposals are basically the work of Stonewall’s policy team.

Faye told us he believed the transgender population was less than 1 percent of the general population and therefore its coalition with LGB groups was essential and had been enormously successful for them. The British media was honing in on the differences between lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people, because they wanted to break up that coalition.

There was also a difficulty in making people care about transgender issues, for example the ‘health care crisis’ they experience (i.e. the fictitious 6 year waiting list to be seen in a gender identity clinic). Faye believes if you can get ‘people with uteruses’ to see how their own bodily autonomy relates to that of trans-identified people, you can build an alliance from there.

He wrote his book during the lockdowns and thus the BLM rioting.

Question 4 (from the audience): How do you feel about the use of privilege as it is used today in political discourse? Is it a helpful concept?

Dabiri said that ‘people who are racialised as white’ have privilege because they move through the world as ‘unracialised’, and were considered the ‘default norm’ from which everyone else deviates. She discovered a white American feminist scholar called Peggy McIntosh and felt that McIntosh was ‘naming that thing’.

Dabiri explained to us that white allies might be put off by the idea of contributing if their lives were viewed as ones of ‘unmitigated privilege and ease’, but also acknowledged that there were difficulties about speaking without permission and that ‘silence is violence’ – given these realities how do you persuade white people that it is in their best interests to get on board? So eloquent.

Faye wanted to talk about gender privilege. Women were upset that men had demoted themselves into a subordinate gender class and Faye wanted to draw attention to the privilege that women actually hold over men (i.e. so-called ‘cis privilege’). Although Faye believes in the ‘cis privilege’ women have, he doesn’t believe in ‘indelible male privilege’, nor that this can be retained by men like himself. Keen to point out that 99.4 percent of the population was ‘cisgender’ (conveniently shifting from ‘less than 1 percent’ to a mere 0.6 percent) meant that trans people had very little power.

Faye then went onto give an example where a ‘cisgender woman’ would have power over him – in the context of him being given an assessment for certain medical treatments. He also claimed that it would never be a ‘transgender woman’, because that wasn’t how trans health care is set up. Except that’s not true, Dr K. Nambiar, is a gender identity specialist who works at the Tavistock and is not the only one. Marci Bowers is possibly the most famous and sits on the board of WPATH. Such a provable lie. Anyway, moving on.

Question 5 (from audience): Who the hell really cares what celebrities really think? Aren’t they just a distraction?

I believe this was an oblique reference to JK Rowling who had had to speak up once again, after trans activists had taken it upon themselves to photograph her home address on the internet. Faye was only too keen to take this up – describing the news story as ‘the disproportionate focus on the author of Harry Potter’. Faye is saddened when people ask him what he thinks about how she has been hounded, saddened when he sees trans activists act as if they think she is something special.

Dabiri said that just because celebrities have very big followings on SM this didn’t mean they were experts and yet they were often elevated. Dabiri has 44.3K followers on Twitter herself.

Then O’Hagan gave a revealing anecdote about a home counties women she knows becoming a BLM advocate just because she likes Lewis Hamilton. She’s got the T-shirts and everything. ‘Is she an anti-racist influencer?’ queried Dabiri. ‘No, no, no, she just my friend’s mum,’ responded O’Hagan.

Question 6 (from audience): Should we be careful not to use shorthand terms when building coalitions with others?

Faye said that ‘code switching’ was a normal part of activism and gave the example of Stonewall giving GP receptionists trans awareness training. It was necessary to use transphobic language in order to educate these plebs, then over time the plebs evolve to being something less plebeian (okay, he didn’t actually say that, but I’ve heard this line enough times to know that this is the real gist).

Dabiri says that hearing some of the mantras makes her eyes roll, but we were in a place were we couldn’t say that. Not only that, but one these mantras – Google is your friend – when you actually follow that advice it takes you nowhere. Dabiri also doesn’t like ‘you’re going to have to get uncomfortable’ and wondered why the movement couldn’t be linguistically more positive and focus on collective transformation and liberation. (Just a reminder – Dabiri’s book is called What White People Can Do Next.)

Question 7 (from audience): What are the success factors in effective coalition building?

Faye made a direct comparison to the Northern Ireland peace process, causing a violent burst of derisive laughter from myself, and reminded me yet again that the coalitions they envisioned were about talking to people who already agree with them.

Dabiri returned to the example of the US Black Civil Rights movement and said that Martin Luther King ran a project which helped poor Americans, regardless of colour, and that activism now had become untethered to these principles. Which would explain why she has written a book aimed at white people sorting things out.

Then the woman from Penguin popped up again and reminded us we could buy the books.

They actually charged people to attend the live event, unless you were trans, then you got a free ticket (I love being genderfuck by the way). Shocking greed, given the webinar was nothing more than an extended plug for their books and was posted on YouTube just a few days later. What a rip off!

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