With current boiling social and political tension, we have heard our fair share of the word “ally” and what it means to be one. Being an ally to any social or political movement is multilayered and multifunctional, so trust that there will be mistakes made. No one is expecting you to be the perfect ally; we just expect your words and actions to not be performative. A performative ally is just as the name suggests, all actions and words are a performance for others. A performative ally is only seeking validation that they are a “good person.” They’re not.
Now a lazy ally is someone who waits for the movement to take action. It’s like waiting for your doctor to tell you to lead a healthier lifestyle. You know what you need to do but you won’t bust a move until you receive the doctor’s orders. Be assertive. Take initiative. Being an ally is not afterthought, and the movement you have proclaimed commitment to cannot wait for action. Being an active ally takes work, a lot of work, the most work, especially if you are not the impacted group.
Here are a few tips to help you better serve the people you have vowed allyship to:
The people supplied you with excessive amounts of education and resources in the beginning, but now it is time for you to seek your own knowledge. Stop relying on information handouts and expecting others to recount traumatic life experiences just to better shape your understanding. You should feel uncomfortable in your learning; if you’re not, then you’re not doing it right. You are wanting to be an ally, so your chosen movement is not your wheelhouse.
The internet, specifically social media, has been a powerful tool to spread awareness globally. Yes, please continue to spread information that is factual and relevant. However the big work happens offline. Get ACTIVE in your and neighboring communities. Contact your local, state, and national elected government officials regarding laws and policies affecting the people you have chosen to fight alongside. Create and organize opportunities to push forward your movements. Initiate the tough conversations with your family, friends, and peers.
Being an ally comes with loads of questions, and many want to answer, but only when they will be heard in their responses. When people share their stories, they are not seeking your validation of their experiences or emotions. Also, they are not wanting you to share their stories. Their stories are not for you to share unless they have given permission. Toss out the condescending language in your own responses. Listen to the stories/information and apply it to your own actions and reactions.
Reshape your daily life
Allyship has to become a part of daily life. You have to purposely go out of your way to be pro- whatever cause you have committed to. You must confront your own biases and tackle solutions to change your behavior. Interrupt all anti(cause) conversations and actions. Intentionally seek to be more inclusive in your peer groups and challenge your existing groups.
Find moments to constantly uplift and amplify the people and voices. Remember the movement is not yours; you are an aide. Do not succumb to the savior complex. Acknowledge, support, and give credit to the work that is being done. Show up for the people.
There is always more to be done, and Self.com shared more tips on how to be a better ally. Remember the goal is to dismantle the systems that continue to thrive off of those being oppressed. These systems count on the people to become separated and to fight alone. Inclusivity, equity, equality, justice is the end goal. Inclusivity and diversity are not synonymous. When companies/corporations are inclusive, oppressed people and groups were included from the start, but with diversity, select people and groups are only included after conflict. Also, it is a jerk move to compare oppressions/struggles/pain when another is expressing their own, for example the black lives and all lives matter argument.