How to Be a Better Ally
Supporting marginalized communities is less complicated than you think
by Mary Falade (she/her) and Joy Ahrum Kwak (she/her), Motion of Colour | BCAA Magazine, Fall/Winter 2021
An ally is someone who chooses to stand with, and uplift, people from marginalized communities. Not sure where to start? Read on for some helpful tips.
Take some time to learn about the history and issues facing marginalized groups. You can read books and articles, watch documentaries and more. Also, we can learn a lot from everyday experiences. So you can be a better ally by making room for marginalized communities in your day-to-day life; for instance, watching movies or YouTube videos by and about Indigenous, Black, LGBTQIA2S+ people and other minority groups. Buying from minority-owned businesses and following marginalized people on social media are other great ways to show support and learn.
Learn to listen
Let people from marginalized groups define what is discriminatory. Even if your intentions are innocent, your actions can still be hurtful. For example, “microaggressions” result from everyday acts of rudeness in the form of an insensitive comment, question, joke or action. With or without intention, the result is the same.
Acknowledge your own advantages
In some cases, people receive systemic privilege or benefits solely because of the demographics they fall into. This doesn’t mean they “have it easy”; it simply means they won’t experience systemic hardship due to certain traits. For example, Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) experience racial discrimination during job hiring, an issue white people don’t face.
Don’t be performative
An ally’s role is to support marginalized communities – not focus on improving their own image. If your allyship is only displayed on social media, it might be performative. Make a real-life impact by backing up public statements with action. Attend events, sign petitions, make donations, vocally support marginalized voices and more.
If you don’t, who will? Marginalized groups can’t be expected to end oppression all on their own. When you point out and address instances of discrimination, you’re reminding yourself, and others, that it shouldn’t be normal.
Know it’s OK to make mistakes
Don’t get defensive or try to shift blame. Recognize that you made a mistake and learn from it. Ultimately, the focus should be on eradicating the oppression that marginalized groups face.
BC Inclusion Resources
Photo credit: iStock