- Saskia Scarce
How to be an Ally
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of an ally is “one that is associated with another as a helper: a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle”.
In these times it is important to acknowledge and support the voices of any minority group. To be cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, male, or white means that you are privileged by society’s norms. If you do identify with any of these labels, then you need to understand that there are certain struggles, barriers, and biases that you will not encounter. This doesn’t mean that you should feel guilty for having these privileges because that is the way you were born. However, it is important to recognize these privileges and use them effectively to support minorities because we are stronger together. Wanting to be an ally is great because allies are very pivotal to combatting discrimination! However, it might be overwhelming and/or difficult to know where to start. Here are some ways you can be an ally:
The first step to becoming an ally is acknowledgement. Understanding that you have privileges that other minority groups do not have and then using it to improve their experiences. For example, if you are caucasian; understanding that you have white privilege is very important but it is nothing to dwell upon. It is an indication for you to begin advocating for those who are not being heard. Significant things to acknowledge are your prejudices and your mistakes. This demonstrates your ability to understand and learn from the community that you are advocating for. You can only grow from this point on.
First and foremost, it is not anyone’s duty to educate you on any matter. Technology has made it very easy for anyone to do their own research on current and present forms of discrimination. In terms of the LGBTQ+ community, you can educate yourself by learning the different ranges of sexuality and the definitions. To be anti-racist, you need to be aware of the varying forms of racism, including microaggressions. Lastly, you can educate yourself by reading books, watching movies or documentaries, and listening to podcasts that discuss race, different perspectives, and discrimination against other marginalized groups. You have to be educated to be a useful ally.
Listen + Be Respectful
Listening is an important aspect of being an ally. When listening to someone share informative or personal stories there are things to remember. Firstly, it is crucial to remember that it is not about you, it is about supporting your friends, family or a community. If you are not able to relate to what is being said instead of questioning the reliability, show empathy. For example, do not share someone’s coming out to anyone else unless they stated it is okay to do so; it took courage for someone to share their story with you, so be empathetic. Using someone’s preferred pronouns is a sign of respect and acceptance in the LGBTQ+ community. Lastly, it’s important to accept criticism, being an ally is not learned overnight but it is an ongoing commitment.
Support + Advocate
This is a crucial aspect of being an ally. Posting about injustices and celebrating victories on social platforms allows for information to be shared and increases awareness. Researching causes, then signing petitions or writing to officials are other ways to contribute to fighting injustices. If you are able to financially donate, then you should! You are supporting organizations that are directly fighting for rights, contributing to families that are not able to make bail or able to afford a proper funeral. Advocating for minority groups should not only be through social media. Defending others against discrimination and prejudice is equally important because that person may be scared to do so. Protesting or marching is also an effective way to show your support, a strong united front for the fight against injustices, and a way to celebrate accomplishments. Showing your support could be as small as wearing a pin or a t-shirt that supports the community and/ or movement. Supporting black-owned businesses is also a great way to support the Black Lives Matter Movement. Most importantly, create a safe space for your friends and family members to confide in you. You can do this by checking in on friends and family members in times of high tension since the news and social media can be very overwhelming.
Check out our resource page where you can find books, movies, petitions, and other ways to contribute that can guide you on your journey through allyship!
http://Lamont, A. (n.d.). Guide to Allyship. Retrieved June 23, 2020, from https://guidetoallyship.com/
Archie, A., & Griggs, B. (2019, February 18). How to be an ally to your LGBT friends, relatives and co-workers. Retrieved June 23, 2020, from https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/22/health/lgbt-how-to-be-an-ally-trnd/index.html
How You Can Be an Ally to the Black Lives Matter Movement. (n.d.). Retrieved June 23, 2020, from https://www.greatbigstory.com/guides/how-to-become-a-better-black-lives-matter-ally
10 Ways to Be an Ally & a Friend. (2015, July 16). Retrieved June 23, 2020, from https://www.glaad.org/resources/ally/2