Our Guide To Being An Ally
Women of Color for Progress was formed to create an inclusive and transparent political system that empowers women of color to excel, lead, represent, and be heard. However, we acknowledge that allies are important in all movements for progress, including our own.
[They] are excited about partnering and working with allies to further … goals for inclusivity in the political process. [They] would like to encourage you to please get involved!
Please read below [their] guidelines and suggestions for folks who do not identify as women of color to get involved:
Don’t lead, follow
We encourage you to attend events, meetings and other activities where women of color are leading discussions that impact communities of color and our society at large. Listen and ask questions.
If you are looking to create a conversation about an issue or issues that have an impact on communities of color, we encourage you to bring women of color to the table and have them take the lead in those conversations.
We encourage you to become members so you can support our mission and collectively work together to break down barriers for women of color.
We encourage you to take what you have learned and share with your own friends, family and community members. Invite them to join our group!
Model and Support /Amplify and Endorse
We encourage you to take the voices of women of color in our group into consideration, particularly when organizing your own activities in your respective groups and communities. We would be delighted to attend and participate in your community discussions to add another perspective so we can learn from one another.
We encourage you to mentor, train, and provide resources to women of color to take on leadership positions.
Some important things to note about allyship and solidarity:
Being an ally is not an identity to wear – it’s not a noun, but rather a verb. It is a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals or communities.
Allyship is not self-defined – it is defined by the communities you are standing in solidarity with.
Being an ally doesn’t mean you are expected to know everything! Ask questions, and stay open to listening and learning.
In the event that a person of color expresses to you that they feel like what you have said/done is biased/racist/racially insensitive, take a step back and listen. We understand the inclination to defend yourself and your integrity. Being called out for insensitivity is not necessarily an indictment on your character, or your goodness as a human, but is meant to highlight the ways we all display our bias.
The Do’s of Allyship
Do lend your expertise and services as much as possible .
Do connect your networks to the work WOC are advancing and vice-versa
Do help women of color fundraise. Often women of color don’t have access to the same resources as others.
Do volunteer your time to a woman of color running for office.
Do patronize businesses owned by a woman of color & help promote them.
Do stand up for a woman of color who is being discriminated against. As an ally you are (often times) less likely to face negative consequences than if she stood up alone. This could be as simple as speaking up if a woman of color (or any woman in fact) has been interrupted in a meeting; if someone has taken credit away from an idea or the hard work a woman has put in; or if a woman of color is criticized for wearing her hair “natural”.
Do call someone out for telling a sexist and/or racially insensitive joke. The joke might seem harmless, and it would be easier to brush it off, but these little moments, also known as microaggressions, add up to something big. Just because it isn’t overt doesn’t mean it’s any less damaging. (Quick hack: if someone replies “I was just joking,” ask them to explain what about the joke is actually funny.)
Do examine your own prejudices. It’s important as an ally to face your own prejudices an unconscious biases, otherwise it’s possible act in ways that can be more harming than helpful – even with the best of intentions. Never underestimate the role our culture and society have played in shaping how you view the people around you, which is why we ALL carry prejudices and unconscious biases that we may not even be aware of (even women of color against other women of color). It is on each of us as individuals to look inwards and acknowledge these biases. The most important thing is not to feel guilty, but to be honest with yourself and confront the prejudices straight on. Even if you consider yourself a truly open and progressive person, chances are that you lack a certain lens on an issue because it from your personal experiences. Being an ally isn’t about sharing or fully understanding the experiences of the community you wish to support, but to acknowledge that their struggles are valid and important.
Do continue to listen and learn. The quest to be thoughtful, compassionate, informed, and connected should be lifelong.
The Don’t’s of Allyship
Don’t be afraid of the word “privilege”. Often times it is people with privilege that help push a movement forward and that is invaluable. Certain privileges can help get underrepresented communities access or visibility in spaces they may not have had previously. See your privilege as a means to support communities, instead of feeling bad about it. It’s what you do with your privilege that counts!
Don’t wait for folks/communities/organizations to reach out to you out of the blue. Be proactive about letting them know who you are and what you can offer them. Figure out when it’s appropriate to get involved, and do it.
Don’t retreat into your privilege and abandon the work if you feel uncomfortable. Be accountable and embrace the discomfort. Oppression is constant, and it’s important to understand that while you may be able to “take a break,” oppressed and marginalized folks don’t ever get that luxury. While it’s understandable that you will not be able to fully understand their experiences, committing to supporting a community means to be there even when it gets a little uncomfortable. It’s ok to feel discomfort – most of us have been there. Acknowledge that you feel this way, try and figure out why, get support from other allies and social justice educators who you respect, and keep going
Don’t walk away if you make a mistake. Listen, learn, pick yourself up, and move on. It’s okay to make mistakes. Even the most educated among us make mistakes. The important thing is how you respond to your mistake – try to really hear what someone is saying if they are explaining your mistake to you, without ego or defensiveness. If you get called out, apologise, learn from that mistake, and commit to changing your behaviour going forward.
Don’t think that you know everything about another community or issue or talk more than the folks you are standing in solidarity with. This is what is commonly called “speak up but not over”. It’s great to use your privilege and voice to educate others, but it’s important to do it in a way that doesn’t drown out the community members you are trying to support, or take credit for things. Listen as much as possible.
For other helpful tips, check out: www.womenofcolorforprogress.org