Diversity & Inclusion: How to be an Ally

How can all of us become better allies and supporters to our friends and colleagues of color?  There are a few strategies and actions we can all take that will help us become more knowledgable and more

  1. Educate yourself and do your research.  There are lots of resources available, and it is not the job of people of color to explain the history and concepts connected to racism and discrimination.  Take a class, do some reading, attend a speaker or listen to a podcast.
  2. Listen!  If your friends who are a part of marginalized communities decide to engage with you on the subject of discrimination, listen to them and offer support where appropriate. As an ally, your job is to listen and learn.
  3. Beware of “performative allyship” or “virtue signaling.”  Check your social media posts to be sure you are motivated by a true desire to help and understand.  Don’t use an important social movement as a photo op or a way to highlight how open-minded you are.
  4. Speak up in your own social circles.  Confront racist, bigoted or derogatory language and comments when they are used by family and friends.
  5. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.  Being a true ally will mean not only speaking up or being present in uncomfortable situations, but also confronting your own prejudices and privilege. 
  6. Learn from your mistakes.  Being an ally is an ongoing process, and you are bound to say or do the wrong thing at certain points. Sometimes, the best way to learn is through trial and error. The important thing is to acknowledge when you’re wrong, and to not make those same mistakes again. Essentially: welcome failure, but learn from it.
  7. Amplify the voices and messages of people of color.  Promote others’ voices and make the conversation all about yourself. It’s okay to feel bad about your role in an unjust and racist society, but as an ally it is necessary to realize that your role is one of support.
  8. Show up!  Make your actions match your words.  Take responsibility for your actions, educate your peers, attend protests and marches, sign petitions, volunteer your time and donate, if you can!

Additional Reading