This year, we have discussed many areas where we all can become better allies and suggested many actions we can take to become more inclusive and equitable in our spaces. For our final Ally Tips of this academic year, we wanted to leave you with action items that can strengthen your allyship this summer and beyond. We have enjoyed learning and growing with you and look forward to seeing you next fall!
Action Step 1: Do a Social Justice Knowledge Inventory & Seek Out More Information
For many, the summer holds more flexibility and freedom than the fall and spring semesters. While we encourage you to rest and rejuvenate yourself, we also think that the summer is a great time to assess where you stand, knowledge-wise, about social justice issues. Furthermore, consider what information you have about these communities as it relates to your field, both in research populations and in your workplace. Once you’ve assessed your knowledge level, identify key areas where you lack understanding and set aside time every week to learn more. This can include media created by affected communities (e.g., memoirs, documentaries, etc.) as well as research on their experiences. You can also take time to follow people (such as on social media) who don’t share your identities to learn more about experiences outside your own. Throughout your journey of learning more, remain humble about the knowledge and experiences you have. Doing so will make perspective-taking easier and easier – particularly when confronted with experiences that differ vastly from your own.
Action Step 2: Invite People to Join in The Allyship Journey
Summer is also a time for visiting family and being in community as a way to reset from the busy school year. As you connect with loved ones in your life, consider starting conversations encouraging them to become (stronger) allies. Rather than starting from a place of their wrong-doings, encourage meaningful perspective-taking and learning more about people outside oneself. Such conversations can even start off covert, such as recommending a memoir that explores oppression from a personal narrative and asking questions that prompt loved ones to consider the influences of social systems on the lives of others. You can also offer to share things you’ve learned while developing your own allyship and create an understanding that you’re there to support their progress. For those who might be more resistant to allyship, the act of making allyship a communal experience (with loving accountability) can offset concerns about “getting it right” that close people off and encourages people to instead show up for others as an ally. While we cannot always recruit others into the journey of allyship, it is our duty to try every day because marginalized communities do not get a day off from oppression.
Action Step 3: Consider How Our “Rules” are Exclusionary
For some of us, summer is a full-time break from school, work, and other responsibilities. For others, work continues into the summer months (though perhaps less intensely than during the school year). Regardless, we all will interact with “rules” – explicit ones like policy or unwritten ones like social cues – that define what is acceptable behavior. While some policies and social rules do support the needs of marginalized communities (e.g., mask mandates help protect disabled people from the on-going pandemic), more often than not, these “rules” are meant to reinforce systems of oppression and exclusion. Start developing an eye for evaluating where our social rules or institutional policies reinforce systems of oppression. Even further, consider the ways that our seemingly “neutral” rules (and consequences) are applied more intensely for marginalized communities. For example, despite awareness-raising efforts, many elements of “professionalism” continue to be exclusionary – such as reinforcing misogynoir (Asare, 2020; Bailey & Trudy, 2018) by excluding the diverse range of hair styles Black women wear (Griffin, 2019) and reinforcing cisheteropatriarchy by setting expectations about “correct” clothing that corresponds to gender stereotypes (Zheng, 2020). Once you start to read “rules” for being exclusionary, have discussions about what those policies mean and ways we can remove them to become more inclusive.
Weekly Resource Recommendations
- Book: Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education– Sensoy and DiAngelo review key social justice concepts and cover the experiences of specific communities.
- Video: Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable – Luvvie Ajayi Jones encourages us all to stand up and speak out about social justice issues because “systems count on our silence.”
- Article: Guide to Allyship – This website hosts important resources about allyship, including conversations about the complicated meaning of allyship and steps that can be taken to do better.
- Podcast: Leading with Empathy & Allyship – This podcast series covers a variety of topics with a variety of experts, all geared toward helping us become better allies!
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