Our communities need the voices, opinions and support from diverse groups of people to thrive. Being an ally is one remedy to isolation for those targeted by oppression and those in targeting roles. Allyship empowers everyone involved.
Allyship is a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people. It’s the practice of emphasizing social justice, inclusion and human rights by members of a non-marginalized group to advance the interests of an oppressed or marginalized group.
In the practice of allyship, everyone has more to learn and needs to listen constantly.
Sometimes, people say, “doing ally work,” or, “acting in solidarity with,” to reference the fact that the term “ally” is not an identity someone can have. It is an ongoing and lifelong process that involves work and commitment. Allyship is a verb, not a noun and requires activism.
One type of an ally is a white ally. A white ally acknowledges the limits of her/his/their knowledge about other people’s experiences but doesn’t use that as a reason not to think and/or act. A white ally does not remain silent but confronts racism each time it comes up. An ally seeks to deconstruct racism institutionally and live in a way that challenges systemic oppression. This comes with the risk of experiencing some of that oppression. Being a white ally entails building relationships with both people of color and white people in order to challenge them in their thinking about race. White allies don’t have it all figured out but are committed to non-complacency.
How do you become an ally of diversity? To be an ally of diversity, one must advocate for others. This includes standing up for others and elevating the accomplishments of individuals who are usually not at the table. In this work, it is important to notice who is consistently being left out when decisions are made, and reach out to that marginalized or oppressed group to ensure that the decision makers’ group is consistently diverse, inclusive and representative of all stakeholders.
*Small Business Pro Tip: As a team, talk about the importance of allyship and how to confront others when they might unintentionally create harm for others.
- Read: Fighting Racism and the Limits of “Ally-Ship” by Khury Petersen-Smith and Brian Bean (article, <10 minutes).
- Read: How to be an Ally if You Are a Person With Privilege by Frances E. Kendall (article, <10 minutes).
- Review: Carry Our Weight for resources on learning, reflecting and acting for allies (website, 10-60 minutes).
- Review: UC Berkeley Gender Equity Resource Center’s Allyship: Challenging Heterosexism and Homophobia (website, 10-60 minutes).
- Take this LinkedIn Learning course on Active Allies (9-week curriculum)