Being a Real Ally

Written by: Rana Salman

Allyship is a powerful and beneficial trait that we often hear a lot about, but what does that really look like? 

Social media posts are probably what many think of when considering what allyship means in 2021. They think posting black squares to their timelines, retweeting statistics and reposting articles to Instagram stories is enough. While exposure can be great in terms of spreading awareness about various social justice issues, it can be insincere and performative if not followed by real action. 

Real allyship takes time; it takes more than sharing a couple posts, or reading a couple articles. In my opinion, allyship starts with a personal intention and commitment to learning. Now, we can all say we’ll educate ourselves, but this is a lifelong dedication: to be an ally is to commit to being a lifelong learner. 

Allyship means reading, listening, and deepening your own understanding of various topics. It’s easy to think you can simply ask marginalized groups about their experiences but it’s important to remember – that’s not their job. Still have questions? Make sure you preface any discussions by requesting permission to ask about certain topics rather than just asking. Also, remember that everyone’s experience might not be the same, don’t generalize stories from one or two people, be considerate of people’s unique experiences and individuality. 

Be an ally by starting with yourself, recognize that there will always be things to learn and some things you might never understand. 

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