How to Become an Ally to Women of Colour

Written by: Sophia Wang

Most definitely you have heard or seen the phrase “become an ally,” but what does this really mean, and how can this be achieved? There are many ways to become an ally, including being an ally to people of colour, an ally with the LGBTQ community, or an ally for women’s rights. Regardless of what ally you choose to be, it is important to understand that the fundamental principle of being an ally is education and understanding the community. 

Firstly, what is an ally? 

An ally is someone who supports and understands the beliefs of a community and promotes a common interest. Understanding the beliefs of a community goes hand in hand with understanding the barriers that a community faces in society. For example, in society, women face social, economic, and political inequalities. The gender pay gap is most prevalent in developing countries, however, in a well-developed country like Canada, you would assume there is gender equality in the workforce. Unfortunately, Canada is ranked with the “8th highest gender pay gap out of a list of 43 countries examined by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), based on 2016 data” (Canadian Women Organization, 2021). This income inequality not only affects women in the workforce currently, but also young women who are studying to pursue their dreams and have an additional barrier of making their way into the male-dominated workplaces. Therefore, learning about the inequalities and barriers against women in the workforce is the first step in becoming an ally. 

It is also important to recognize the presence of racism in our society. It has been extremely clear that racism is an ongoing problem in all sections of society. For example, during March of 2020, “Black Lives Matter” Protests rose across the world to advocate and bring awareness to police brutality and racism. It is important to know that although protests surfaced in 2020, the racial discrimination and inequalities that people of colour face have been present for decades, and are still present to this day. Education and understanding the barriers, discrimination, and fears that people of colour face daily is the biggest step in becoming an ally. This can be done by watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, and learning from knowledgeable and credible sources. Once the foundation of education is achieved, action can be taken by being attentive about what you say and what other people say. Ensure that no racial slurs, actions, or racially motivated attitudes are performed. It is important to get the conversation rolling; talk to your family, peers, and colleagues about racism and how everyone can be more conscious about the actions and words that are said. Discussion and communication are the best methods in keeping everyone accountable for their actions and being an ally. 

It is now important to realize that women of colour are extremely marginalized because they face both the barriers of racism and gender inequality. Women of colour face barriers in the workplace, education, businesses, and healthcare. There is a lack of diversity and representation in the workforce, politics, and education. As allies, it’s important to combat injustice, and promote equity and diversity at school, at work, or just publicly in general. Women of colour are often marginalized and underrepresented, therefore, their opinions are less likely to be voiced and listened to. As an ally, your role is to listen and encourage the voice of women of colour and assist them when in need. For example, promoting and encouraging businesses owned by women of colour, or voice lack of diversity in a workplace.  

Ultimately, to be an ally to women of colour, it is critical to understand and learn about the history of systemic racism, gender inequality, and the first-hand experience of women of colour. Here are some resources that are extremely helpful in becoming an ally and supporting women of colour. 

Movies, documentaries, and podcasts to listen to: 

Podcast: The Colour Gap: How to Become and Great Ally to Women of Colour: 

Documentary: Say Her Name: The Life & Death of Sandra Bland (2018) 

Documentary: He named me Malala 

Book: In Search of Our Mothers Gardens by Alice Walker  

References

Canadian Women Organization. (2021, June 05). The Gender Pay Gap: Wage Gap in Canada: The Facts.  

Retrieved from: https://canadianwomen.org/the-facts/the-gender-pay-gap/ 

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