Becoming An ALLY

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How do I become an ally? What can I do? What action can we take? It is time to stop talking and time to do something.

Agreed. But …

Let's slow it down.

The levels and layers of experience within Ally-ship are so complex and fraught with intersectionality. Intersectionality can be thought of as a series of Venn diagrams including race, class, gender, socioeconomic status, culture, etc., that overlap and inter-relate. You may share portions of a Venn with someone but not other portions, creating overlapping yet distinct experiences. Interpreting the intersectionality of the Venn diagrams and how they overlap individually, between individuals, and systemically can help us understand the experience of discrimination, racism, sexism, ageism, or any social categorization that holds disadvantage. Many will share portions of each other's intersectionality Venn diagrams, but not all. This elegant tool can create a poignant foundation for discussion and your journey into becoming an ally.

To be an ALLY, be A – Aware, L – Listen, L – Learn and say -Y – Yes.


Draw your Venn diagram. What systems of oppression have you experienced? Areas of privilege?

The first step to becoming an ally is to become aware of yourself, your biases (conscious, unconscious, implicit, explicit, hidden, buried, etc.). Compassionately explore your experiences of marginalization, systems of oppression, and/or discrimination AND your experiences of privilege.

Building awareness of privilege does not mean discounting your experience of difficulty; instead, it is acknowledging that your Venn diagram looks different than someone else's as a function of factors that may be entirely out of your sphere of influence.

Be kind to yourself. No judgment allowed. No shame involved. This is exploration. You are building a foundation to help yourself understand. The entire reason you are reading this is a desire to become an ally. Your intention is good and deserves kindness,


It is easy to turn off the news or scroll past the latest media releases about riots and discord. Sometimes we all need to shift away from the world and reconnect with our world.

For step 2, make a conscious decision to look, see, listen and hear what is happening for others. When tuning in, listen for different spheres for the Venn diagrams of those featured.

To be an ally, we need to listen to the experience of others and understand it as different than ours. No dismissal. No judgment. No rationalizing it away. Listen for their experience … not your interpretation of their experience.


I am part of a book group focused on becoming an antiracist, and the facilitator starts each session with a review of the rule of "first draft". She reminds everyone to hear and speak as though it is the first draft. We are not the sum of the last thing we said, and the entire process WILL uncover blind spots and hidden biases.

Allowing a perspective of the first draft allows for humble acceptance, acknowledgment, apology, and forgiveness (of self and/or others) when appropriate for any harm you may have caused. We all possess the ability to harm, and we do harm others; it is a reasonable and expected part of the journey for harm to be possible, but when we approach with a first draft philosophy, we provide the option to learn.

STEP 4: say Y – YES.

Finally, say YES to take action. Look for the areas that resonate with you and the areas that energize you. Maybe it is racism, reproductive rights, LGBTQ2 rights, human rights, indigenous rights, politics, worker's rights, animal rights, climate, etc.

You bring strengths, gifts, talents, strength, and passion. When you focus on your strengths and take action to maximize your strength, you will create endurance.

To be an ALLY, be A – Aware, L – Listen, L – Learn and say Y – Yes.

Becoming an ally is committing to being an A-L-L-Y.

You cannot be everything for everyone. But you can be something to someone.

Let's start working together!

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