How To Be An Ally
What is allyship?
Allyship involves an active, ongoing, and consistent process of creating effective relationships. Relationships that are built upon trust, accountability, transparency, understanding, in which a person within positions of greater systemic power work in solidarity with marginalised individuals and/or groups of people to end oppression.
Allyship can only be recognised by the marginalised people that individuals are seeking to ally with. Allyship involves an ongoing practice of critical thinking that involves a lifelong journey of unlearning and relearning.
How To Practice Allyship
First, we must understand. Be open to listening to lived experiences.
Be Aware- Self Reflection
Begin to recognise ingrained and subconscious biases. Through the development of critical thinking and thought processes, we can begin to deconstruct our internalized biases and remove obstacles that have been systematically put in place to continue the ongoing oppression of others.
Be Prepared To Feel Uncomfortable
Topics surrounding oppression are sensitive and can be challenging to process when confronted with information that challenges our comfortable reality. However, it is important to become comfortable with the uncomfortable and acknowledge that this is a part of the process in effective change.
Respect Lived Experiences
Those who are directly affected by oppression, are the experts. As a result, we must continue to acknowledge that their analysis should always take priority and precedence over the knowledge
and opinions of those who have are not directly affected by such experiences.
Speak Up, But Not Over
When speaking about issues involving oppression, we must be conscious that we are not speaking over or on behalf of those of focus. We must continue to be active in amplifying and championing individuals and their voices. Being an effective ally with a group does not mean leading it. We must help boost the visibility of individual's work and stories.
Do Your Research
It's important to continuously educate and inform ourselves surrounding the history of the focussed oppression and to understand the harmful impact we may unknowingly contribute.
Acknowledge That You Will Make Mistakes
Accept that you are going to make mistakes. With this acceptance, it is important to acknowledge that you must be open to criticism, even if it’s uncomfortable.
Share Your Lessons With Others
Share your lessons and understandings. Teach others how to be effective allies. Educate others surrounding the oppression faced and share resources and tools to help them on their journey towards effective allyship and understanding. Amplify and share people's stories and work, and continuously encourage individuals to challenge those who continue to contribute to the ongoing oppression and division within society.
Things To Avoid
Do Not Assume
Do not assume that every member of the focussed group feels oppressed. Do not treat a group as homogenous. If one individual shares their experience or asks for support do not assume they are speaking on behalf of the entire group. Each individual experience is unique.
Additionally, do not assume your presence or opinion is needed within a group.
Do Not Tolerate Hate, Regardless Of The Situation
We cannot be selective with oppression. It is an ally's responsibility to acknowledge hate in every situation they encounter it.
Do Not Expect to Be Taught or Shown
We are not entitled to anything. We must take initiative in seeking out effective tools and resources to gain further understanding and awareness on our own. Do not expect emotional labour from those experiencing oppression, they do not owe us anything.
Do Not Seek Credit
It is important to acknowledge and respect the long history of oppression and resistance movements. It is essential for allies to not take credit for the emotionally and physically demanding labour of those facing oppression and to acknowledge the hard work that has been done prior to their engagement.
Do Not Engage As If Your Knowledge is Best
It is essential that allies do not engage within focused groups as if they know best. We must contribute within each situation with neutrality and openness, that values and prioritises the knowledge of those with lived experiences.
Do Not Become Complacent in Your Allyship
We must continue to show up every day. Effective allyship requires ongoing action and commitment. We must continue to donate, seek knowledge, listen, volunteer and educate others.