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With the idea that allyship is a verb (something that you do, on an ongoing basis) rather than a noun (a role to check off or a one-time destination you can arrive at), these tips are about continuously learning and growing as you support others in their fights against injustice and oppression.
Being an ally to any community starts with listening. When having a conversation, practice listening to understand rather than listening to respond with your own point of view.
Marginalized people have provided us with countless resources and information (via articles, books, podcasts, videos, infographics, etc.) to learn from. Make sure you do the research yourself first instead of putting your questions and labour on them.
People need different things from their allies — what's helpful for one person won't always be helpful for all. If you want to "show up" for someone, offer a couple ideas of ways you can support, and also leave space to ask what they would find helpful from you.
As always, you can't pour from an empty cup. Be sure to take care of yourself and your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being so that you can support others without burning out.
Allyship is a journey and sometimes we may not get it quite right. Know that messing up is part of the process; apologize, listen and learn, regroup, and keep going!
Many toxic messages have been passed on through generations in our families, but it is our responsibility to learn and do better moving forward. Reflect regularly on the values and beliefs you hold that may need to be challenged in order to be a better ally.
Not sure where to start when it comes to educating yourself on allyship? Simran wrote a blog that can help act as a great starting point for Black Lives Matter and beyond, highlighting numerous resources created by Black people.
Conversations with friends and family are a great way to be an ally. Oppressed communities need those of us with more privilege to share the load by doing the work in our social circles to correct harmful messages and provide accurate and supportive info!
How can you "tilt towards" communities that need allyship? If you feel uncomfortable when thinking of a certain oppressed community, take some time to learn about them! Understanding each others' humanity is a way to tilt towards those who need our help!
It can feel overwhelming to think about the changes it takes to be a better ally — and yet, those who need our allyship experience overwhelm all their lives. Take a pause and remind yourself this is a marathon, not a sprint. One step at a time, you can do this!
Everybody has their own talents and strengths, and things they can contribute as ongoing allies. If you figure out what your strong points are, you can use these to act against systems of oppression in a way that is effective and feels natural to you.
Have you gone out of your comfort zone with types of cuisine? Supporting local restaurants who are owned by people of different ethnicities can be a neat way to appreciate and learn about other cultures. Next time you order takeout, try a restaurant that's BIPOC-owned!
Another way to set yourself up for continued allyship is to ensure that you continually receive information and insight from BIPOC voices. A simple strategy to diversify the information you interact with is to follow new BIPOC people, accounts and organizations on social media.
Allyship doesn't always mean you agree with everything said by a person you're an ally to. It means listening with an open mind, trying to understand their experience, being compassionate regardless of differences and knowing one person doesn't represent an entire group.
If you're experiencing burnout from practicing allyship, check in with somebody you trust and can talk to. Working through your feelings with somebody else can take the weight off of you and help you problem solve ways to move forward healthily.
Don't let your fear of being wrong guilt you into silence on issues that you care about! Practicing allyship means realizing that in speaking about injustice, saying nothing at all is worse than saying something you may later be corrected on.
When educating yourself on new topics as an ally, try to find anti-racist materials that fit your learning style. For example, if you're an auditory learner, podcasts (by BIPOC) may help you take in new information in a way that is easier for you.
For non-Black people of colour, the first step to allyship might be identifying the racism, shadeism and anti-Blackness that exist even within your own family or community. Read Conny's insight to Black allyship from an Asian perspective.
To practice allyship we must examine our implicit biases (the prejudices we hold that we might not even be consciously aware of) so that we can begin to work on and challenge them. You can start by taking the Implicit Association Tests by Harvard.
Allyship may require us to "show up" if we witness harassment and here is an incredible graphic on how to do so safely. If anyone's safety is at risk, ask someone nearby for support or look into services you can call for emergency help.
If you're of voting age, casting your ballot is another way you can make a difference as an ally. When elections come around, do your research to find candidates committed to the action that you want to see in your community. How do they speak about inequality and equity?
Much of the food, fashion, and music that we consume today has Black roots or influence. Practicing allyship can mean investing time and effort to learn about how Black people have shaped art and culture as we know it.
Do some research on non-profit organizations who work with marginalized communities in your area. Even if you don't have extra money to donate, you could volunteer for them, participate in their events, share their info, or sign petitions they might have.
Part of being an ally can be investing your money in people, places, and organizations that you believe in (when you're able to). Have you looked into local BIPOC-owned businesses instead of supporting large chains? You'd be surprised to see how many alternatives are out there!
If you're enrolled in a post secondary institution, there are likely student-run clubs that not only provide community but also work to educate others on various races, ethnicities, and cultures. Seek these out, and look into how you could get involved.
Practicing allyship requires stepping out of your comfort zone. It's okay to feel afraid, confused, or uncomfortable at times, and to need to work out these feelings. Do what you have to in order to keep showing up so that these feelings don't hold you back.
There are endless media resources to learn from and better equip ourselves with as allies! Check out Tasha K's incredible Anti-Racism Resource Guide for tons of recommendations and direction on what to watch, read and listen to.
Growth and shifting opinions are part of allyship. It's okay to realize we didn't have the right information before or that we were on the wrong side of justice. Never be ashamed of a change of heart when it's for the better!
Part of allyship is learning about the impact of our words so that we can work towards using inclusive and anti-oppressive language. Many common phrases or words have oppressive roots — take some time to learn what they are and work them out of your vocabulary.
There can be even more "subtle" forms of racist language called microaggressions. As allies, it can help to make some notes that you can refer to when responding to someone who has said a microaggression. Check out this article to get you started.
As you continue to practice allyship, know that your efforts matter. It's easy to feel like we're never doing as much as we should... but even if you make a difference in one life, place, class, organization, or community, you are part of a greater, long-term cause.