As the organiser of this one-hour hang-out, I brought two topics to the video room for discussion:
- a series of slide I have called “What is Allyship?”
- A video resource titled “What is Intersectionality?” from the two week “Educate Ourxelves” challenge that the UOW Ally Network had put together
What is Allyship
This next section is a refactoring of the information I collated for the first part of this event. It focuses on the idea that the word “ally” is a verb – being an ally is something you do, not something you are.
A barrier to becoming a true, authentic ally is personal discomfort.
This is not only somewhat natural but inevitable – self-examination is an intrinsic part of effective allyship. Being uncomfortable is not always bad, it can help us grow and there are ways to lean into the discomfort of working at being a better ally productively:
- Learn more about people with different identities be it gender, LGBTQ+ status, race, religion, etc
- Think about intersectionality and how it impacts all of our lives and places in society
- Self-educate through reading, listening to podcasts or watching documentaries that explore the experiences of underrepresented communities – and look for voices from those communities that are voluntarily speaking up
- Talk through those fears with fellow aspiring allies – don’t expect members of the communities you want to ally with to educate or reassure you
Language and Communities
There are many different communities within what non-members see as “minority groups”. There are also individuals who may identify with more than one community or section of a community, so it is important to meet people where they are – not where we assume they are or think they should be.
- Identity, orientation, community belonging, disclosure are all complicated and can be fluid
- There are many gaps and it can be hard for an individual to know where or if they fit or feel comfortable with how labels are used by society and by local communities.
Allyship is active
“view Allyship as a strategic mechanism used by individuals to become collaborators, accomplices, and co-conspirators who fight injustice and promote equity [..] through supportive personal relationships and public acts of sponsorship and advocacy.” (source)
What are actions we can take in the next week to be better allies of gender, sex and sexuality diverse students and staff?