By Jasmine Lahori
The world is a scary place; and everywhere we look there is some kind of turmoil that exist. From identity politics to victimhood, there are many ways to be an ally for someone in need. The word ‘ally’ is thrown around as a performative word. Social media gives us obligations to be aware and helpful to others, but how can this really be achieved? How can someone help bring to light issues, but not step on any toes? It may be nearly impossible to support every person with their own unique forms of marginalization- but it is possible to be an affective ally.
This is the most important step- to be able to listen to experiences, especially from those who are willing to share. Some individuals may not feel comfortable, or sometimes they may not feel safe sharing such personal information. Being able to listen and respect those voices works as validation. This will allow a conversation of mutual respect to ensue.
Not everyone will be receptive to your curiosity, and sometimes you may not fully understand these experiences. No one will ever have the same lived experiences- regardless of their shared identities. However, being able to understand those differences, having empathy and genuine care will prove to be effective.
Check Your Bias
We all have some kind of privilege, or advantages that help us navigate society. Being able to recognize those advantages and disadvantages compared to others, will provide boundaries of the conversation. The reality is society is unbalanced- some people win and some people lose. Whether it is gender, sexuality, race, class, education, citizenship, ability or socioeconomic status- acknowledging your privilege in the conversation can be the leverage to speak up for those whose voices have been silenced.
If an issue or marginalized group is of interest to you- look into stories, cases, articles and journals on the issue. The most important thing of being an ally is to be willing to learn on your own, not use identities as a source of information.
Allyship can be more than standing by the sidelines. Volunteering in the community first hand and getting out of your comfort zone to stand up against oppression, can help make the world a better place. Be kind to others and positivity will soon follow.
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