Allyship is part and parcel to achieving greater social awareness and change in our society. In order to better challenge some of the harmful beliefs that are common in our culture, allies are needed to help further critical dialogue and mobilize towards social progress.
We break down the importance of allyship in two ways: Defining Allyship, and Rules For Allies.
(The following information is gleaned from The Anti-Oppression Network)
Allyship is an active, consistent, and arduous practice of unlearning and re-evaluating, in which a person of privilege seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group of people
Allyship is not an identity—it is a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people. Allyship is not self-defined—our work and our efforts must be recognized by the people we seek to ally ourselves with.
Rules For Allies
(The following is gleaned from Cynthia Lin's Rules For Allies)
RULE #1: Listen. REALLY listen.
Be genuine in seeking to learn from the experiences of other people, as they understand them. REALLY listening can be
RULE #2: It’s not about you.
It’s not about you, so take the ego out of the picture, and deal with your own defensiveness. Often we spend a lot of energy to prove ourselves as “not those oppressors” to really be useful as allies. “My partner is a person of color, so I can’t be racist.” “I hung out with some gay people last night, so…” It’s not about you, so check your need to assert yourself. Step back, let go of power and control. Delve into the uncomfortable spaces, and be curious.
RULE #3: It’s all about you!
Too often the work is outward when it needs to be inward. We can fall into the trap of changing others and changing institutions but not changing ourselves. Center your own healing and UN-learning, and understand your own power and privilege. That means also reckoning how we may have benefited from systems of oppression at the expense of others—education, health care, having the freedom to express our identity as we choose.
RULE #4: Do the work “at home”
Educate and work
RULE #5: Don’t go it alone.
Create communities for educating yourselves, taking action, and holding each other accountable.
RULE #6: Learn about history: Understand legacies of oppression AND of resistance.
Ground your work in
RULE #7: “To hell with good intentions…” – Ivan Illich
Sometimes people’s well-intentioned actions are downright harmful and paternalistic.
RULE #8: Remember that all struggles are connected
Too often, “divide-and-conquer” forces pit movements against each other. For example, some class struggles have been seen as largely ‘white-led’ and pitted against anti-racist movements, even though their work might target the same root oppressions. We cannot have discussions or actions centered on gender justice without including the unique struggles of trans people, genderqueer people, and women of color.If you are working to combat one particular form of oppression, how can you be an ally to others in other movements?
If you are working to combat one particular form of oppression, how can you be an ally to others in other movements?