Being an Ally

Not long ago, I wrote down my Golden Rules to being an ally.

  1. Listen.
  2. Remember it’s not about you.
  3. Remember it’s sometimes about you.
  4. Mostly, though, it’s not about you, so center the conversation where it belongs.
  5. Don’t expect gratitude; instead, accept criticism graciously.

Here’s another, similar, piece – from Jamia Wilson – How to Show Up without Getting in the Way

I recently asked a close white friend why they hadn’t taken a public stand when I’d heard them privately express concerns about police accountability and racism. I said, “I need you to be an ally.” The response I got was a sincere question: “I want to but it seems so big, and I don’t know where to start. What do you want me to do?”

After taking a deep breath and explaining that racism is so big, and that it feels so big to those of us who have to experience it, I talked them through some guidelines for being an ally. These suggestions apply to almost any situation in which you want to support a cause that does not directly affect you or your identity, and I learned them through my years of being an activist (sometimes the hard way).

She says:

Own your privilege, Be vulnerable, Listen Up, Find your community, Don’t try to save anyone, Face your fears, show up, do your homework, watch your language, and give credit where credit is due.

It’s a fine list with good discussions for each item.

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