5 Things All Allies Need To Remember
- Ally is not an identity. Being an ally is a practice; it is a conscious set of choices an individual makes to actively reject oppressive modes of being. For example, living in a sexist society, our default is misogyny. No one, not even women, are inherently accepting of femininity. If it can take years for us to unlearn hatred towards ourselves, imagine how much more work an ally needs to do.
- Allies can fail, but never harm. Because allies need to educate themselves, and unlearn a lifetime of ideologies and behaviors, we will fail. A lot. We will say the wrong things, ignore intersectionality, and allow violence to happen to those we love. And that is a hard truth we need to accept. As allies, we will never suffer the violence marginalized people do. We will never be able to do enough. And that’s ok. Apologize and try again, but do keep trying.
- Allies function as bodyguards. Our job is to stay at the periphery, and use our privilege to protect and defend. Like bodyguards, we should not expect to be thanked, invited into the inner circle, expect those we are protecting to teach us how to do our job, or comforted if we are terrible at our job.
- Intent never matters more than impact. I will not say intent does not matter, because it does. But intent is more of a reason someone should eventually be forgiven, than a defense for terrible actions. An accidental racist, who is actively trying to become less racist, should be treated with more leniency than the purposeful racist. But unless change happens, how are the marginalized supposed to tell them apart.
- Oppression in one area does not cancel out privilege in another. Gay men can be misogynistic, Asian people can be anti-black, immigrants can be ableist. Being oppressed and marginalized does not make anyone inherently innocence. No one is universally oppressed, and we need to remember that we are all capable of doing terrible things.