Being an Ally: The Bare Minimum

There is currently a terrific amount of social debate and disruption, with marches and protests regarding Black Live Matter, systemic racism, climate justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, policy brutality/reform, and more. Tensions are justifiably high and perhaps even aggravated due to it being an election year in the US. That being said, I have been thinking on what it means to be an ally.

As a white, middle-class, suburban living, cis-gendered, married, male, privilege is thy name. So, while I support many of the current struggles for equal rights/access for marginalized voices, I also do not want to take attention away from the voices that most need to be heard. So, I have come up with two rules (not in any particular order) that I feel is the very least I can do, the bare minimum to being an ally:

  • Elevate marginalized voices
  • Get out of their way

Again, these rules do not need to be done in order. One does not necessarily require the other, and I try to engage with both constantly.

Marginalized voices are marginalized in part because they are not being heard. Elevating can take a myriad of forms, from buying a book to donating to a cause to retweeting on Twitter. An ally can help marginalized voices be heard.

If a marginalized voice is speaking, listen to them. Don’t interrupt. Don’t turn away. Their voice needs to be recognized and debated. They can and should speak for themselves and their community, on their own terms.

Of course, there is more that an ally can do, but in terms of a bare minimum, this might be a good place to start.

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