How can i be a good ally to the people around me who are struggling with race issues?
This is a question i have asked a lot. One of the things white people who join this conversation tend to do is expect people of colour to educate them on how not to be racist. So they have carried the burden of negative race vibes and now they must still do all the work of educating us. Not cool. So it is largely up to us to educate us. With some help along the way.
To that end, i have put together this post which has eight specific ways in which white people can be better at engaging in conversation and action in these areas.
But then someone shared this post, titled ‘Allyship’ from the The Anti-Oppression Network which i found super helpful. When i checked the About page on the blog, i realised this is actually written from a Canadian perspective and speaking into issues they face. Yet it is so completely relevant to so much that we have going on here. Really worth a complete read.
The point that struck me the most was this one:
Allyship is not self-defined—our work and our efforts must be recognized by the people we seek to ally ourselves with
i had never really considered that, myself, yet it makes so much sense. “Hey, look at me everyone, I’m an ally!” [with everyone raising their eyebrows and ducking for cover, thinking, “Uh, no you’re not! Help me!”]
So it’s not a term we embrace as much as it is a lifestyle we try to adopt. In response to a question i must be constantly asking myself internally: How can i be a better ally to those around me?
The article gives a list of responsibilities and again, please go and read the whole thing because it is so important, but just to quickly summarise to give you the trailer:
- we actively acknowledge our privileges and openly discuss them
- we listen more and speak less
- we do our work with integrity and direct communication
- we do not expect to be educated by others
- we build our capacity to receive criticism
- we embrace the emotions that come out of the process of allyship
- our needs are secondary to the people we seek to work with
- we do not expect awards or special recognition
The Anti-Oppression Network also categorises our roles in these ongoing conversations, that:
- we are here to support and make use of our privilege for the people we seek to work with
- we turn the spotlight we are given away from ourselves and towards the voices of those who are continuously marginalized, silenced, and ignored; we give credit where credit is due
- we use opportunities to engage people with whom we share identity and privilege in conversations about oppression experienced by those we seek to work with
And follows it up with some opportunities in the form of questions, which again, you can read over here.
It finishes with a list of links to documents that it was created from or with reference to. One which i found super helpful was another list of ideas of 10 Things all Allies need to know by Jamie Utt, of which two key ones for me were:
Allies Don’t Take Breaks
When Criticized or Called Out, Allies Listen, Apologize, Act Accountably, and Act Differently Going Forward
The journey towards allyship continues. Which reminds me of another point i think Jamie made about it, that ally is never a noun.
If you found any article or resource super helpful in your journey towards being a more effective and relevant ally, please share it with us in the comments below…