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Allyship: What It Means To Be An Ally


Even though I stepped down at Korean Student Association Vice President, whenever I meet other students for the first time they often ask “Wait, Carina?! Are you KSA Carina?”  I am honored to have this title as this is a club I dedicated much of my free time to over the last three years.  I have gotten the opportunity to watch it blossom from a two-person eboard to an eboard with over six people and a strong membership. However, being apart of an affinity group that was not one I identified with made me learn to take a backseat.


My sophomore year, KSA wanted to have an open dialogue about  model minority status.  There were only two e-board members available to facilitate the discussion, and I was one of them.  I remember telling my e-board members in advance that I don’t feel as though I have a place to speak in this discussion as a black Caribbean-American student.   I added that I  would remain silent for the discussion.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I expected my fellow e-board members to say.  Looking back it was inappropriate for me to expect a response.  

Here I was trying to take a space that was meant for one group and make it fit me.  I was essentially saying:  I can’t relate to this issue, so can you please make me feel better, thanks.   I thought I was the ideal ally, but yet I made such a stupid comment.  How could this have happened?

That meeting was when I learned what it means to be an ally. 


I write this at a time where I think the world needs to learn what it truly means to be an ally.  It feels like every day we are flooded with everything from microaggressions to racist acts resulting in humiliation or worse. Whether it’s natural hairstyles being banned in schools, cultural appropriation, or the inspiration for this article,  a Fox News reporter humiliating citizens in Chinatown, it is important for us as global citizens to support others who feel targeted, discouraged and misunderstood.


To me, an ally is someone who speaks up when someone of the group in question is not attendance or does not feel comfortable speaking out.  An ally is also someone who gives another person a space, without infringing upon it.   I would also like to add that being silent is not allyship either.  It is understanding your place in a discussion and using your position as an ally to support another group, not redirect the spotlight.



Ps.  If one of the articles or issues mentioned here is one you would like the avenue to talk about, please send Carina or Bonnie an email with your intent to write.  We would like to hear many voices on these issues. All the best xo

Carina Corbin graduated from Amherst College in 2017 and started writing for Her Campus during her first year. She was a Computer Science and Asian Languages & Civilizations double major that still loves to learn languages, write short stories, eat great food and travel. She wrote for Her Campus Amherst for four years and was Campus Correspondent for 3.5 years. She enjoyed interviewing Campus Profiles and writing content that connected with the Amherst community.
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