There are many communities around the world that are in desperate need of allies to support their efforts towards change. The LGTBQ+ community, sexual and physical assault victims, special needs people of color and so many other minorities are always looking for advocates to help them tell their stories and make real change.
In light of the current worldwide situation, we are seeing the need for help more than ever before. People are vocalizing the power of people using their privilege, while others are learning how to effectively do so. There has been a huge shift in teamwork and everybody wants to help since they are aware that their voice can help create change.
But how do you become an effective ally for these communities? And what does that really mean?
An ally is someone who is not a member of an underrepresented group but takes action to support them.
Some of the best ways to be an ally are:
Be open to listening.
Speak to people, but let them talk while you listen. This is the best way to gain a better understanding of their issues, what their resolutions are, and what they hope to achieve. This will also help you feel the hurt and see the sadness – essentially experience every emotion that they deal with. You’d be surprised by how much you can learn from a few conversations.
Be aware of your biases.
You are still human and sadly, we all have a few biases. Maybe you’re doing this for your best friend’s special needs sibling who doesn’t have a voice but wants change, or maybe you’re doing it to help make the world a better place even if you don’t have any ties to the cause. The point is, you’re doing it for a reason.
Research the history of the group’s struggle.
Whether it’s the LGBTQ+ community or the Black Lives Matter movement, they all have a dark backstory. It’s beneficial to know where they came from and what they’ve overcome. It will help you understand why they’re underrepresented.
Research the modern solutions to said struggles.
Learn about how they were able to gain their rights. Educate yourself on what historical moments helped their movements. This will help you stay informed and confident in what you have to say while showing support – especially when educating others on why you support them.
Amplify the voices that don’t share your privilege.
If you have a platform, use it. If you don’t, use whatever you’ve got. You could always have more reach than those who are still silenced. Sometimes it’s someone you know that can encourage others to help too. Word of mouth is a big way to spread the news.
However, allies should definitely not:
- Expect/demand to be taught. Instead, they should learn and lead by example.
- Act as if they know best. Clearly they don’t because they’ve never shared the same experiences and struggles.
- Take credit for the work they’ve done when other people have paved the way during their allyship.
Being an ally is not a destination where you stay in one place as you support others – it’s a journey. It requires constant education and action that may never end. Even if the end goal has been met, you will still continue to show your love and expand your knowledge while encouraging and educating others to do the same.
Sadly, not everyone is going to agree with your choices to support these communities. You also won’t always be able to change their minds. But you can always listen to their “reasonings” and grow from their criticism. It can be uncomfortable, but at least you’re still making an effort to share your knowledge and expand their voices to new people.
It’s our time to step up and be better allies. We have so many educational resources and tools available that it’s made being an ally easier than ever. We have so many more good things to do, so let’s start working and be better allies to create a better future. Who knows, in twenty years we could be fighting for our own children’s rights.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash