5 Ways to be a Proactive Ally
In recent months we’ve heard the term “ally” more than ever but what does it actually mean?
Being an ally doesn’t necessarily mean you fully understand what it feels like to be oppressed. It just means you’re willing to take on the struggles as your own. BAME people cannot choose to just take off the weight of their race like a coat, it’s worn everyday and as an ally you too must be willing to wear this coat too. It is worth noting to not make assumptions that all BAME people feel oppressed.
1. Never Compare
It is never okay to compare the struggles of your own with those from the BAME community. We’re not invalidating or even ignoring your struggles or pain but this conversation is not about you.
2. Educate Yourself and Others
Do not expect to be shown or even taught on how to be a good ally, take it upon yourself to learn, unlearn your own implicit biases and answer your own questions. Thanks to the internet we have unlimited resources to hand. Understand that it is not the job of the BAME community to educate you on the history of racism, that task falls on you and you alone. Knowledge is power so share your new found knowledge with family, friends and even colleagues.
Sounds so simple yet many of us get it wrong. Listening is probably one of the biggest ways you can be of service to people of colour. A simple form of solidarity is validating the concerns/problems of BAME individuals. Please understand that just because you personally have not seen acts of injustice in the workplace or in society as a whole, doesn’t mean it is not happening.
“The more you listen and stay informed on the issues of racial disparity, the more knowledgeable you can be on how to help”.
4. Lend your Privilege
“White privilege is not saying that as a white person your life hasn't been hard. White privilege is simply saying your skin colour hasn't been a contributing factor”.
-Emmanuel Acho, former NFL player & current analyst for Fox Sports 1.
“I come from a working class background, I’m not privileged at all”
White privilege has nothing to do with your socio-economical standing but your skin colour. Privilege is despite any disadvantages you may have had in life, the colour of your skin is not
one of them. Acknowledging your privilege and offering it to those who lack is a great way of being a proactive ally.
5. Take Action
If you witness discriminatory behaviour around you … report it. If you hear someone use discriminatory language or racial slurs, regardless the context … call them out on it. It’s not enough to not be racist you need to actively be anti-racist.
There are many things you can do to be a proactive ally, the ways listed above just highlight a few. Being an ally is hard work, a task not to be taken lightly.