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Many people today consider themselves to be “allies,” or may want to become better “allies” to the people in their lives. However, the actual meaning and legitimate duties of an ally have become lost amongst the word being redefined throughout time.

An ally is defined in the dictionary vaguely, as “to support” but a more modern definition defines it as “a person who uses their privilege to advocate on behalf of someone else who doesn’t hold that same privilege.” But what does this mean? Here’s how to advocate and support as a modern day ally to those who are less privileged than yourself.

Be Open To Listening 

An important part of being a good ally to the people in your life is listening to them and taking their struggles seriously. Listening to the voices of the womxn, people of color and LGBTQ+ identifying people and valuing their ideas is the only way to really be an ally.

Be Willing To Fight for the Cause

As a person with say, white privilege, your ability to fight for the issues of people of color is important in order to produce widespread change. You have to take on the cause as your own without overshadowing the people you are fighting for. Pay attention to the news and participate in local government affairs. Show up for protests and make your voice of support heard. 

Be Ready and Open to Apologizing

As an ally, you will probably mess up sometimes. No one is perfect, and people will understand that. When you do mess up, and someone calls you out, don’t get upset—try and learn from the experience for the future. Learning from your mistakes and doing better in the future is the best way to promote change.

Do Internal Work

Reflect on yourself as an ally and on your space in the world. Do you lift up the marginalized people in your life? What views do you hold, and how can you inform yourself to become more educated on the oppressive systems you may perpetuate just by existing? Try to think deeply and honestly.

Don’t Monopolize The Cause

Even though you are fighting for the cause, and taking it on as your own, don’t try to make it about you. If you are being a good ally, you are listening and supporting without inserting yourself as a victim. You may not be used to leaving space for others, but being an ally is about that realization and accountability. 

Being An Ally Is Not About Status

Being an ally is not about a title or praise. It is about caring about people and caring about injustice and it can be hard work. Do not become an ally just to say you are an ally—that does more harm to the cause you are supposedly advocating for than it does good. If you claim the status of ally, do your best to remain educated and involved. 

There is no perfect way to be an ally. Allyship is always growing and changing, and the best thing you can do is to remain informed and do your best to be kind and considerate to others who face oppression every day of their lives.

 

Zoe Rivera

Emerson '23

Hi! I'm a freshman contributor at Emerson College
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