What Does It Mean to Be An Effective Ally?
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What Does It Mean to Be An Effective Ally?

Allyship isn't always effective, here are some ways to get to effective allyship

What Does It Mean to Be An Effective Ally?

I find myself to be very passionate about a variety of issues in our world today. Some issues I can relate to from experience, and some I lack any direct experience to. It then becomes difficult for me to understand how I, as a person lacking experiencing in a specific issue, could possibly grasp, understand, and advocate for those who can relate. I tend to constantly ask myself the following question: “What is allyship?”, “How can I be an ally?”, and “What exactly does it mean to be an effective ally?”

With no answers in mind, at the time, I began to research and become familiar with the methods and characteristics that can be necessary for my own process to understand the experiences of others. While I still do not have the official answer to such a complex concept, I do have some ideas as to what attributes could lead to successful allyship when desired.

1. The ability to listen

The act of listening is essential to effective allyship. If you truly have a desire to aid someone in need, the best way to begin the process of change is through listening. When I say listening, I am referring to active listening.

Active listening comes through the ability to engage one’s senses and seeking to hear the meaning of the words, rather than just the words themselves. Listening effectively isn’t an easy task at all, hence the challenges posed by allyship.

2. Be an advocate.

Using your own voice to advocate for others is an essential aspect of allyship. Advocating for others isn’t easy. To be able to effectively advocate, you have to be able to listen to the needs of those who you choose to advocate for.

One must be able to understand the perspective and needs of others and properly relay such information towards the greater parties. Without effective communication, the steps toward advocacy can quickly fail.

3. Use your resources and accessibility

A huge aspect of allyship is the desire to actually advance the resources and accessibility of those with whom you are allied to. You must be able to use the resources that you may possess to amplify the cause at hand and to provide platforms to expand the environments of the vulnerable. By being able to use your own resources to aid the cause, you are investing others in the overall cause at hand, thus expanding the bounds of those in need of such accessibility and resources.

4. Amplify voices

To engage in allyship means to aid in expanding the voices of the cause.Through constant advocacy, it can become very easy to feel the need to always speak in support of those whom you advocate for, but you also must be able to provide avenues and spaces for them to use their own voices to express their situations at hand.

Being an ally means exuding the passion to take the voice of the vulnerable and emphasize the ability for the voices to actually be heard, considered, and taken seriously. Without actively working to amplify the voices, there is no cause to support.

5. Allow space for those with whom you are allied to feel vulnerable

A huge aspect of being an ally comes with the ability to step back and allow those in most need of support to have their moment of vulnerability. To truly process their situations and their emotions, they may need ample time to think, examine themselves, and the world around them. You must be able to help foster an environment in which those who you choose to advocate for can actually engage in the reality of their situations. Through that, you need to not judge or question, but to support and engage in such a vulnerable time.

The role of an ally is one of great complexity; it is neither easy nor straightforward. In this day and age, recent social and political movements have created evolving avenues for support and advocacy.

To move towards change in an effective manner, allies and those involved in the overarching concept of allyship, on any level, must shape themselves in a manner that seeks to properly advance the efforts of those in need. If we all take the time to practice effective listening and advocacy, then the roles of allies can continue to enrich the voices and lives of many.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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