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Written by Hannah Wilson

Founder of Diverse Educators

Allies:

noun. a state formally cooperating with another for a military or other purpose.

verb. combine or unite a resource or commodity with (another) for mutual benefit.

Allyship:

A lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people. not self-defined—work and efforts must be recognized by those you are seeking to ally with.

Why do we need to be Inclusive Allies?

We are all humans. We are all equal. We all need to check our privilege. We need to empathise with the struggle that some people go through. We need to be aware of the obstacles and the barriers in the way of some people on their journey.  We need to be aware of the impact of prejudice and discrimination.

#HeForShe and #WhiteAlly are two labels I have heard used in the last few years as the grassroots communities encourage supporters to join their movements for change.

Much like #DiverseEd aims to make connections between the different communities, we need a term to capture everyone who works with others to. At the #CollaborativeSupportForWomen event and our #DiverseEd event we have promoted the idea of Inclusive Allies:

Amy Ferguson spoke about Allyship at the Collaborative Support for Women event and the recording is here.

Patrick Ottley O’Connor spoke about Allyship at the Virtual Diverse Educators event and the recording is here.

Allyship is a process, and everyone has more to learn. Allyship involves a lot of listening. Sometimes, people say “doing ally work” or “acting in solidarity with” to reference the fact that “ally” is not an identity, it is an ongoing and lifelong process that involves a lot of work.

Inclusive Allyship is:

Men working alongside women to smash glass ceilings and advance gender equality.

White people working alongside people of colour to smash concrete ceilings and advance racial equity.

Heterosexual people working alongside Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex people to smash the gay glass ceiling.

Able-bodied people working alongside disabled people to smash the glass disability glass ceiling.

How do we support as Inclusive Allies?

Allyship is about confronting othering, ‘isms’, privilege, prejudice. Allyship is about standing up and speaking out on social justice issues.

I found a great website called Diversability which encourages us to think differently about allyship and I have lifted the below advice from The Guide to Allyship.

How to be an Inclusive Ally:

Take on the struggle as your own.

Stand up, even when you feel scared.

Transfer the benefits of your privilege to those who lack it.

Acknowledge that even though you feel pain, the conversation is not about you.

Be willing to own your mistakes and de-centre yourself.

Understand that your education is up to you and no one else.

Being an Inclusive Ally is about white people, straight people and able-bodied people being aware of our privilege. We need to do the work, the inner work, to reflect, to learn and to grow. As an Inclusive Ally there are different roles we can take on to move the conversation and the agenda for diversity, equity and inclusion forward.

7 ways to be an Inclusive Ally:

The Sponsor

The Champion

The Amplifier

The Advocate

The Scholar

The Upstander

The Confidant

Allyship will not always be comfortable. We need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. We need to check our privilege and realise that our momentary discomfort is not comparable to the long-term discomfort that people live with. Trauma and tragedy are the lived experienced for many people.

The last few months have been emotionally-charged. Our colleagues, our communities and our children who come from diverse backgrounds have potentially been deeply affected by the tragic murder of George Flood. I saw potentially as we cannot assume that everyone has experienced and responded to the most recent Black Lives Matter incident in the same way. To deepen your understanding I recommend reading this article on How to be an Ally During Times of Tragedy.

Becoming and being an Inclusive Ally requires intention, commitment and action. We need to lean in to this space, no matter how hard, how painful and how uncomfortable it is.

What do we do to be Inclusive Allies?

THE DO’S

Do be open to listening

Do be aware of your implicit biases

Do your research to learn more about the history of the struggle in which you are participating

Do the inner work to figure out a way to acknowledge how you participate in oppressive systems

Do the outer work and figure out how to change the oppressive systems

Do use your privilege to amplify (digitally and in-person) historically suppressed voices

Do learn how to listen and accept criticism with grace, even if it’s uncomfortable

Do the work every day to learn how to be a better ally

THE DON’TS

Do not expect to be taught or shown. Take it upon yourself to use the tools around you to learn and answer your questions

Do not participate for the gold medal in the “Oppression Olympics” (you don’t need to compare how your struggle is “just as bad as” a marginalized person’s)

Do not behave as though you know best

Do not take credit for the labour of those who are marginalized and did the work before you stepped into the picture

Do not assume that every member of an under-invested community feels oppressed

For teachers and those working in education we need to consider the impact we can have in our classrooms and our schools. We need to be the change in teaching tolerance and acceptance, we need to celebrate diversity and create a sense of belonging for all identities. We need to ensure that our environments and physically and psychologically safe for everybody. We need to have the big conversations about the world to equip everybody with the knowledge, skills and values to navigate society.

There are  10 Things You Can Do to be an Ally:

Listen

Get educated

Get involved

Show up

Speak up

Intervene

Welcome discomfort

Learn from your mistakes

Stay engaged

Donate

There are some tips here on how to be a teaching tolerance ally here.

For leaders, being an ally is a journey.  Even the most inclusive leaders admit they have room to grow.  The work never stops, yet it is your choice to start, to practise, and to be better every single day. There is a training programme here you may be interested in on leading like an ally.

Following our most recent Diverse Educators conference in June we have a series of free training videos of the event available for staff CPD on the topics of Landscape, Curriculum, Culture and Leadership: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3MxxcAlAy__4H5GiygV7fA?view_as=subscriber

I have also started a series of weekly webcasts with a HR and D&I specialist called #FastForwardDiversityInclusion available here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fastforwarddiversityinclusion-a-weekly-webcast-tickets-111397462810

My #DiverseEdPledge from the event is to be a better Inclusive Ally. Let’s all be upstanders for what is right, not bystanders for what is wrong.

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