Being an Ally: What Does That Mean and Why Is It Relevant?

According to dictionary.com an ally is:
a person who associates or cooperates with another; supporter.”

It sounds relatively simple right? …Supporting someone else?

After doing a quick Google search on “how to be an ally” I learned that it is not so easy.

Let me break it down: I read about 5 articles on this topic and this is what I garnered from 3 of them.

According to the Article The Do’s and Don’ts of Being a Good Ally:
Educate yourself.
Don’t expect a friend of color to explain everything “race” to you. Respect that it is not their responsibility to educate you, it is yours.
Don’t derail conversations.
If you are uncomfortable in a conversation on race, it doesn’t give you permission to         change the subject.
Don’t use a conversation on race to bring up another form of oppression.
This point was hard to swallow because I think I have done this. I’m interested in a lot of issues! However, after reading this in an article it makes sense. In college I had training on how to respond and care for sexual assault survivors.  When talking to a survivor one should not relate a personal story, or a friends story in an effort to empathize, because that can belittle a survivors situation. I think a similar principal holds true here. If someone of color is relating an issue, it is not appropriate to bring up a different issue and careen the conversation somewhere else even if you think it is relevant.

According to the article 12 Ways to be a White Ally to Black People:
Pay attention to media.
When an especially large event focusing on race is highlighted by the media (like     Ferguson, for example), pay attention to your news sources and the language they use.     Some news channels might only be after what will sell and might be misrepresenting a     situation.

Don’t buy into narratives like: Ferguson’s death was a tragedy because he was heading off to college the next week! He was a good kid!
As the author of 12 Ways to be a White Ally  points out, “His death isn’t tragic because he was on his way to college the following week. His death is tragic because he was a human being and his life  mattered. The good-kid narrative might provoke some sympathy, but what it really does is support the lie that as a rule black people, black men in particular, have a norm of violence or criminal behavior. The good-kid narrative says that this kid didn’t deserve to die because his goodness was an exception to the rule. This is wrong. This kid didn’t deserve to die, period.”

Be wary of buying into one story.

Be prepared for negative feedback, talking about race is difficult to “get right.”
Our country has been trying to do that for a shameful amount of time now, it is still an     issue and it still needs to be talked about, but it isn’t easy.

From the article So You Call Yourself an Ally:
Being called an Ally is a privilege, not a right.  
You can’t be a self-proclaimed ally. The age-old adage: “Actions speak louder than     words,” heavily applies here. You can’t be an ally one day and decide you aren’t feeling it     the next day. It’s a constant responsibility-especially when you consider the opposite;
“People of Color have no choice but to resist racism every single day of their lives. Women have no choice but to weather … misogyny every day of their lives. Differently abled people have no choice but to deal with and respond to ableism every day of their lives.”
My privilege can afford me the opportunity to “take a break” from resisting racism, but that doesn’t mean I should.

The responsibility of an Ally:
– is to engage with those who share the same racial identity.
-IS NOT to talk to People of Color about “what is or is not racist.”

Manage your own emotions.
This really stood out to me as important,  it isn’t the responsibility of People of Color to     hold our hands through this learning and living process.

Accountability.  
One of the most pleasantly surprising finds in my research this week was that there are     entire conferences and organizations dedicated to those who are allies or who want to        work to fight racism. I think that’s incredible! Check them out here, here, or here.

In summation:
1. You can’t wake up one day and call yourself an ally.
2. Being an ally is a constant job. Racism is ever present, and deciding to not let that one 3. 3. Facebook post “go,” sometimes actually requires a lot.
4. You must actively educate yourself, not expect the people you might be defending to educate you.
5. Engage with those who share your same identity. Foster discussion. I think this is the biggest thing I can do in my daily life.
6. Get accountability. Join others who have the same passion.

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About banksceleste

Emory Graduate. Fulbright Grantee in Taiwan. From Kansas City. Love: running, hiking, baking, cooking, and entertaining. Ig: celeste_b23 Twitter: mcbanks7
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