Allyship doesn’t have to be hard. Misconceptions that being an ally means being at the front of every rally holding the biggest sign are confusing and harmful to people who want to explore being an ally, so I’d like to clear up some of those misconceptions and work towards a definition of an ally. For context, an example of an ally is a person who identifies as straight supporting someone who identifies as gay.
- Being an ally requires introspection: To truly aid minority communities, you have to confront your own prejudice and biases. Whether this looks like opening dialogue with members of the community or avoiding stereotypes during daily interaction, taking steps toward an unbiased mind is absolutely necessary to be an ally.
- Two ears, one mouth: This cliché is something to live by as an ally. As someone who is not part of the community you’re supporting, it is not your job to speak for them. Instead, uplift the voices of the community, listen to them, read what they write, use your privilege, whatever it is, to make space for them. Too many allies support performatively, and in doing so silence the voices of the same community they’re trying to protect. Avoid this by focusing more on listening than speaking.
- When surrounded by the majority, stand up for the minority: This one can be hard, especially since it requires confrontation, but even that can come in many forms. When family or friends or peers make jokes or use stereotypes to describe your allied community, you have to denounce that, even if no member of the community is there. For example, if you are an ally to the Latinx community, and someone makes a joke about Mexican people, even if no Mexicans are present, it’s your duty to denounce that behavior. It takes practice, but it’s absolutely worth it.
- Show compassion: This seems like a given, but often being an ally to someone really is that simple. Listen and laugh and love the people you know need it most. Don’t assume gender or sexuality or pronouns, ask! Show interest when people of different backgrounds tell a childhood story that reflects their experience. Sit with someone who’s had a hard day and just be present. These are easy but so meaningful.
Being an ally isn’t cookie cutter. These are some general ideas that can take you on a path to better allyship, but remember being an ally means never taking a break or letting down the communities you support. I’ll leave you with this: being an ally isn’t impossible if you work towards being a good one. Listen. Take responsibility. Research. On that note, here’s an article to further your research about allyship: https://everydayfeminism.com/2013/11/things-allies-need-to-know/