So, you want to become a better ally— We may all being doing our best; however, it is important not to behave as though we know best. Firstly, oppression is not the “Struggle Olympics—” It is important not to weaponize your or anyone else’s pain, struggle, or healing. Simply having a friend, a Battle Buddy, or family member that is a person of color (POC) does not negate any elements of xenophobia, racism or prejudice. Colorblindness, White Guilt and privilege, microaggressions and implicit bias all contribute to a larger conversations are counterproductive to the pursuit of equality, diversity, and unconditional love. There are multiple conversations about, and much anxiety surrounding, how to properly appreciate, include and begin the work to support (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) BIPOC communities. Many non-persons of color are struggling to locate the best ways to acknowledge their privilege, support BIPOC and marginalized communities, or to become a better ally. But first, what is Allyship? Allyship is the practice of emphasizing social justice, inclusion, and human rights by members of an in-group, to advance the interests of an oppressed or marginalized group. Allyship is part of the anti-oppression or anti-racist conversation, which puts into use social justice theories and ideals. Being an ally is hard work AND anyone has the potential to be an ally. Check out this Guide to Allyship: An Open Source Starter Guide to start. How to become a better ally? Allies recognize that though they’re not a member of the under-invested and oppressed communities they support— they make a concerted effort to better understand the struggle, every single day. When you consider Allyship review or mentally compile a list of marginalized or mistreated communities. The LGBTQ+, Indigenous, Hispanic and Asian and so many other people of color and various groups are few communities you should consider and review. “Poor allyship is speaking over marginalized people by taking credit and receiving recognition for arguments that the unprivileged have been making for their entire lives.”
Hallie Sebastian How do I gain access to BIPOC communities? Before we get into how to access BIPOC communities, let’s get into what you should NOT do first. The basics— the need to know. 1.) Do not take credit for the work, labor or contributions of marginalized or snubbed communities. 2.) Do not assume that every member of any marginalized, snubbed or under-invested community feels oppressed. 3.) Do not expect to be taught or shown— take it upon yourself to utilize resources, tools and experiences to guide you. Your education is up to you. Suggestions to Become A Better Ally: 1. People are not safe spaces— they create them. 3. Amplify voices and narratives around you 4. De-center yourself— acknowledge that the conversation is not about you. 5. If you see something, say something. Even when you feel afraid. 6. Own your mistakes 7. Continue, or start, reading! How to gain access to BIPOC communities? Utilize literature— from your local or public library, an independently owned bookstore or browse your favorite book blogger. Literature is one of the greatest resources in the world— you can literally elevate your thinking and consciousness, travel through time, and explore your strengths and weaknesses by reading. Asian, Hispanic and Latinx, Bi-racial and other persons of color [See below for literature]. Create safe space for BIPOC and QPOC identities. Circulate resources in your community and area. Build stronger, greater relationship by community building. Safe spaces are essential for Veterans, too. Many veterans struggle with addiction due to a range of risk factors that increase their likelihood of abusing alcohol or drugs. Veterans are more likely to experience PTSD, depression, and chronic pain than other people the same age. Check out MesotheliomaHub's Resources for Veterans. Resources of LGBTQ+ Allyship: Reference Guide & Youth Reference Guidebook
What not to say? Imagine your privilege is tail with fur at the end— and everyone can see it. While denying its existence is simply easier than to accept and properly utilize the tail— others around you will begin to craft ideas about you that may not parallel with your true character. Check out these responses you should stay away from. Tonality: “I don’t always bring up race. You just don’t like talking about it.” Center Yourself: “How can I be racist? My self-sister is bi-racial.”
Denying others’ experiences: “I have not experienced racism, so it can’t be that bad.”
Derailing: “Some people don’t even know racism still exists. Why aren’t you talking to those people?”
Refusal to Center the Impacted: “All struggles matter!”
Denial that the problem is fixable: “Everyone is going through something. You aren’t the only one.”
Victim Blaming: “You shouldn’t have been alone. You know you are always being watched!”
Withdrawing: “I’m not Asian. This really doesn’t have much to do with me.”
The Essential Steps Lead with love. Remember, progress is not linear; yet, each step is essential to a brighter, greater future. It is fair easier to give correction or criticism than it is to take it. Similar to the 12 Steps of Recovery, each is essential to do “the work.” But, first—consider these steps, too. Center the Impacted: verbally ask, “Are you okay?”
Listen to their Response and Learn: utilize active learning skills.
Apologize for the Impact, even though you didn’t intend it: “I’m sorry (Simply and to the point).
Stop the instance: Get active, get involved— get into good trouble.
Stop the pattern: When it comes to oppression, we want to actually change the framework and footwear to get rid of privilege and oppression. Now, go and be great. :)