Activism 101: How to be an Ally

With so much going on in the world, many people often wonder how they can be a better ally to those who are from marginalized communities. I know many allies struggle with “Am I taking up too much space?” Or “How can I be an ally if people won’t allow me to help?”

All these questions are valid. It’s difficult to help others when you aren’t being asked to help, but know it’s the right thing to do. Keep reading for some tips on how to be a better ally.

Listen to the needs of others.

Don’t take up too much space. Never assume you know what is best for a community. When you have been invited into a space to listen and learn, you do just that. It is never appropriate to go to your XYZ friend as the expert on all the oppression that community faces. There are people who get paid for the emotional labor of sharing that information and people shouldn’t have to share for free.

Take ownership when you mess up.

No one wants to be caught making a mistake or saying the wrong thing. We are all unlearning harmful socialization, so it’s ok to make a mistake sometime. Take ownership of your mistake and actively work to do better in the future. 

On the other hand, intent does not equal impact. Just because you said something with the best intentions and it hurt someone, doesn’t mean that harm was negated by your intentions.

Use your voice in spaces of privilege

This is where your friends need you to speak up the most. Your role is not to speak the loudest when bragging about how you show up for people. It’s for the time when you are around your racist, sexist, ableist, transphobic, homophobic, xenophobic family member. Use your voice to speak up during the times where the people around you expect you to be complicit.

We’re all on the same team

The biggest thing you should remember about being an ally is that you are an ally WITH people, not on their behalf. People are capable of fighting for their own freedom; more hands just makes for lighter work!

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