In the last year, there was growing discussion in relation to historically marginalized groups, especially with the Black and LGBTQ+ communities. We heard stories about anti-Asian racism and attacks occurring around the country. We had other groups such as parents struggling to balance work and childcare during school shutdowns. There were healthcare workers, teachers, flight attendants, and service industry workers feeling the strong effects of the pandemic. We also had a large amount of us still trying to get back to some kind of normal. While these struggles continue to exist, we observed our society working towards better supporting and advocating for these groups.
We saw people from all walks of life working together. We observed other's passion in wanting to lift people up and advocate for those marginalized groups. These behaviors can be summed up into one word, allyship.
What is Allyship?
Dictionary.com recognized allyship as the word of the year for 2021. They define this as the status or role of a person who advocates and actively works for the inclusion of a marginalized or politicized group in all areas of society, not as a member of that group but in solidarity with its struggle and point of view and under its leadership.
allyship (noun): the status or role of a person who advocates and actively works for the inclusion of a marginalized or politicized group in all areas of society, not as a member of that group but in solidarity with its struggle and point of view and under its leadership.
Being an ally is more than showing up once to a peaceful protest or meeting. It's about maintaining a consistent level of empathy and understanding towards those you may not share the same struggles with. It's about amplifying the voices of those oppressed, stand up even when you feel scared, and acknowledge even though you may feel their pain the conversation isn't about you.
Why is being an Ally important?
Allies recognize that even though they are not a member of the oppressed communities they support, they make a united effort to better understand the struggles those groups face every single day. Because an ally might have more privilege and recognizes said privilege, they are powerful voices alongside oppressed ones.
True Allyship vs Playing the Part
An important part of allyship is not making it about you, it's about the marginalized or oppressed group(s) you support. There is a difference between true allyship and performative allyship or "playing the part." Performative suggests they are playing the role of an ally instead of actually supporting the people they claim to often by centering themselves around the situation.
What we have to remember with allyship is it's an ongoing journey, not a final destination. It's about taking time to be proactive in your education. Just as society will not change overnight, neither will you. It takes time and mistakes may happen. As an ally, own those mistakes and continue to make time to educate yourself.
Allyship is powerful and has the ability to bring us all closer together. As we continue to build bridges and breakdown the walls of oppression, we can be optimistic for a future of truly committed individuals paving the way for inclusion and allyship.
Please take a moment to check out the links below. These resources were heavily referenced in this article and help further break down allyship, what it means, the importance of it, and how to strengthen your role as an ally.