When you are in a position of privilege, you don’t face the same injustices that people from various other social groups do on a daily basis. In the uptick of oppression felt south of our border and beyond, it is now important to make decisions that can help remove social barriers that prevent equality. Campus is home to many different races, religions, sexual orientations and abilities; it is important to know how to be a proper ally when in a situation marked by inequality. Here are 10 tips that can help you be a good ally and make campus a safer place.
1. Know your privilege: Know your background and social status. You are possibly in a position of privilege that the allies you’re supporting are not. Understand that your decisions impact your allies and will either support or harm them. Make the connections between oppression, economic obstacles and daily occurrences of injustice.
2. Educate yourself: To be a proper ally, you must be informed on what it is your allies are facing. You can understand the historical impacts facing different groups by reading articles and books about the history behind racism, heterosexism, etc. Keep in mind, educating yourself does not allow you any right to demand enlightenment from oppressed allies. Know that it is not your ally’s job to educate you on their oppression.
3. Be an active listener: To be an understanding ally on the topics of marginalization and oppression that social groups may face, you must listen to as many voices as possible.
4. Accept that you’re going to be wrong: When you find yourself in a situation where you’ve wronged someone you’re allied to, listen and apologize. Accept that you’re in the wrong, and let them know you accept responsibility for your actions. It’s not enough to apologize once you’ve been corrected. When you realize you’re wrong, you have to move forward, making sure to keep the lesson you’ve learnt in mind.
5. Being an ally isn’t just a fashion statement: Actions speak louder than words, and being an ally is not a fashion statement. “Ally” is not a badge you can just wear as a part of your identity. It should be the actions you take to support your allies that show your character. Genuine alliance is supporting the work your allies are doing, not giving yourself another platform from which to be heard.
6. Be an active ally: When you notice injustices happening to others around you, stand up for those being oppressed. It is your duty as an ally to intervene when someone disrespects a minority. You must acknowledge and stop hate wherever you see it. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
7. Stay in your lane: As a person of white privilege, you have no place correcting or having a discussion on what racism is to a person of colour. I mean “stay in your lane” almost literally. As a person of white privilege, you have a responsibility to call out other people of privilege on their racism and promote an anti-racist dialogue. This principle can be applied when discussing the rights of any minority group.
8. Say “No” to cultural appropriation: Minority groups can be shunned or mocked for using practices and items that are significant to them. People in a place of privilege might receive praise for adopting those same things. Calling out your friends on their culturally appropriated Halloween costumes and festival headdresses is a crucial part of being an ally. No more Indian princesses, no more chola girls. Culture is not costume.
9. Support people you don’t know: Support groups that you are not actively involved with, and defy injustices that do not directly impact you. An injustice for one is an injustice for all.
10. Advocate for change: Allies are essential in helping secure rights for others. Use your voice to help those in minority groups be heard. Post flyers about important legislation, petition your community, promote positive conversation and make sure to vote.
Victoria Becker / Outreach Director
Graphic: Lesia Karalash/Graphics Editor