How to be an ally

Allyship is the lifelong process in which people with privilege and power work to develop empathy towards another marginalized group's challenges or issues.  

The goal of allyship is to create a culture in which the marginalized group feels valued, supported, and heard.  

Being an ally is not a label: it is a verb. 

To be an ally is to… 

  • Take on the struggle as your own 
  • Transfer the benefits of your privilege to those who lack it 
  • Amplify voices of the oppressed before your own 
  • Acknowledge that even though you feel pain, the conversation is not about you 
  • Stand up, even when you feel scared 
  • Understand your education is up to you and no one else 

Why allies are necessary 

Anyone has the potential to be an ally.  

Allies recognize that, though they’re not a member of the underinvested and oppressed communities they support, they make a concerted effort to better understand the struggle, every single day. 

Because an ally might have more privilege and recognizes their privilege, they are powerful voices alongside oppressed ones. 

The dos… 

  • Do be open to listening 
  • Do be aware of your implicit biases 
  • Do your research to learn more about the history of the struggle in which you are participating 
  • Do the inner work to figure out a way to acknowledge how you participate in oppressive systems 
  • Do the outer work and figure out how to change the oppressive systems 
  • Do learn how to listen and accept criticism with grace, even if it’s uncomfortable 
  • Do the work every day to learn how to be a better ally 

The don’ts… 

  • Do not expect to be taught or shown. Take it upon yourself to use the tools around you to learn and answer your questions 
  • Do not participate for the gold medal in the “Oppression Olympics” (you don’t need to compare how your struggle is “just as bad as” a marginalized person’s) 
  • Do not behave as though you know best 
  • Do not take credit for the labor of those who are marginalized and did the work before you stepped into the picture 
  • Do not assume that every member of an underinvested community feels oppressed 

See Educational Resources for videos and further resources related to allyship.