As media coverage surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement dies down, it is important to keep the momentum going whether that is on the micro or macro scale. By now, I’m sure you’ve seen an abundance of posts advocating for “allies” to actively raise the voices of ethnic minorities in the fight against racism. However, one thing that should be underlined here is that the role of an ally is to make room for people of colour to lead the work that is needed and allies to follow and help amplify their voices- not speak for them… or over them. It’s an iterative process that calls for constant reflection during this defining movement and for the future. There’s no subscribe or unsubscribe button for allyship but it is about continuously learning beyond your comfortability and expanding your growth zone when it comes to not just racism but abelism, sexism, understanding why heterosexism is problematic. That is just a few things from a very long list. It is a lifelong process that involves listening and understanding lived experiences of marginalised peoples and taking it upon yourself to lead a life that challenges systematic oppression and work towards helping dismantle structural and systematic barriers that aid these systems of subjugation.
Allyship can often come across as performative if not done proactively and an act of charity (see false generosity) but it should rather manifest itself as accountability and recognition for daily practices that continue to act as a muffler against the fight for justice and a multiracial, inclusive democracy. Allyship is challenging conversations that continue to treat racism and other forms of oppression as a debate rather than for what they actually are, it is about reading racial subtexts in any conversation and pulling people up on things that on the surface may not seem racist but are. It is having those uncomfortable conversations with those around you but not preaching to communities of colour about how much you’ve done or learnt. This is not a competition about who learns the most the quickest and who can regurgitate what they’ve seen on social media posts and boastfully express it to your black friends. Process, contemplate and do further research on the things you read and listen to. Learn more. Looking to the Palestinian justice movement, one can take inspiration for the idea of “co-resistance”, working together and the notion of deconstructing and un-conditioning ones self of biases and preconceived ideas of marginalised groups.
Of course, this is hard work but it is work that needs to be done if we want to live in an inclusive and liberating society. Voices have to be heard, silence has to be broken on subjects that have been deliberately avoided, room has to be made and change must come. Be an ally, read, watch and listen to the plethora of resources available and help keep the momentum going. Don’t let your allyship be a trend nor performative, let it be proactive, intersectional and lifelong.