I am willing to bet that you care about someone who you’re willing to stand up for. Someone who could use an ally.
My kids and I returned to an old favorite today for a hike. We spent some time at Mt. Tabor Park in Portland, with its wooded trails, a playground, picnic areas and a gorgeous view of inner southeast and downtown Portland from the top. Fall is such a beautiful season here, and many people were out enjoying the park. My son sang Star Wars loudly and my daughter managed to walk almost the whole way up from the parking lot to the top. People seemed a little more open than usual, saying hello, waving at the kids, parents talking to each other at the playground. It wasn’t a cheerful friendliness. For me it seemed like people are seeking connection; something to convince ourselves that people are mostly good despite the constant dire news the past two weeks.
This is the post I’ve been most excited to write about and share. In fact, it leap-frogged over the topic I had planned to write about next because I found myself coming back to it and feeling more passion and motivation about it.
***Disclaimer: I am not an expert at this!
This is me wanting to be a better ally and sharing my knowledge and research with you. It’s an ongoing learning process. Take this as an opportunity to dive further into the topic yourself.
How can you best be an ally for people you care about who could use it? There are many people who have been marginalized for a long time, and for whom the election may have caused further fear for their safety and rights. Like I mentioned, I think it’s a safe bet that just about all of us, even those of us who have never thought about it in these terms, care about someone who is a person of color, LGBTQ, Muslim, an immigrant, or other marginalized group. How can you show up for them in a way that feels supportive and how can you help keep them safe? Read on!
First, some basics. Be there. Spend time together. Listen. Our friend or family member’s feelings are valid. The fear is valid. Be open-minded and not judgmental. Know that unless you’re in their shoes, it may be impossible to really understand their circumstances, but still try. EMPATHY. Value diversity. Choose to educate yourself about the history of the oppression of certain groups of people and listen to the lived experiences of people. Don’t rely on the people who are marginalized to educate you. When someone says something racist/homophobic/Islamaphobic/sexist, say something to disagree. Don’t stay silent. This goes for elected officials as well. Call them and voice your displeasure and assure them that it will affect your vote as well as your family and friends’ votes in the next election.
If you see someone being harassed, do something to help them. Don’t walk on and ignore. That link is excellent, please read!
Here are some more resources that I found worthwhile.
For people in decision making and leadership positions, consider hosting Ally skills workshops at your workplace or other gathering spaces.
Look at this Thanksgiving Discussion guide by Showing Up for Racial Justice. It is seriously so worthwhile! You can even text them on Thanksgiving if you get stuck in a conversation and need some talking points!
Here are 10 Ideas from GLAAD for how to be an ally and friend to LGBTQ folks. Plus some ideas for Things You Can Do For Transgender Equality. This article discusses the specific fears of how a Trump/Pence administration is going to affect LGBTQ rights.
Here is an article that is helpful in striving to be an ally for Muslims An A to Z Guide to How to be an Ally for Muslims.
Here is a general article that’s written about being an ally on college campuses, but has a lot of good general thoughts as well: Live in Fragments No Longer .The author ends with, “If you have security, time, energy, talent, resources, skills, or an audience, use them repeatedly and aggressively for good.”
This week if you’re sitting among family and friends at the dinner table and someone says something to put a group of marginalized people down, or in support of an oppressive policy or movement, what will you do?
Let me know what you think of this list and what you’d add! Talk to me in the comments or on social media. Take care of yourself and others.