Conversations surrounding discrimination are put in the spotlight once again. This comes after the death of 46-year-old African American George Floyd while under local police custody. All over the world, people are protesting for justice and reform of a faulty system discriminating against marginalized groups. In a research article published by the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), black men are found to be 2.5 times more likely than white men to be harmed by police.
Laws and policies supposed to protect the interests of citizens are being twisted according to the whims of the institutions in charge of upholding them. It seems that everyone should have a lawyer on speed dial for all concerns, whether they are questions regarding family law or their given rights when arrested. More so if your gender, race, and social class are not part of the population’s majority.
Showing up as an ally for these marginalized groups are crucial to dismantling discrimination. Your privilege, voice, and influence can help amplify the concerns and issues these groups are facing. But being an ally takes more than posting black squares on Instagram or tweeting a 280-character tirade about current events. It will take commitment and hard work, especially when it becomes difficult.
Here are four ways to become a better ally and stand up for human rights:
1. Take your time to research and listen
This battle might be new to you, but it has been a lifelong fight for people experiencing discrimination all their lives. Charging into the middle without knowledge of where they’re coming from will only serve to undermine their voices. Listen to what they are sharing and read more about its history and the current issues they are facing.
Be more proactive also in seeking resources such as joining activist groups, watching documentaries, and attending speeches shedding light on the situation. Expecting marginalized groups to show you how to become a better ally takes away much-needed resources and effort to their ongoing movement.
2. Be aware of your privilege and biases
Whether you like it or not, you have benefitted from a system that has oppressed marginalized groups. Knowing your place in society can give you insight on how you can use your advantage to help amplify the voices that go unheard.
You can start by listing your identity group memberships, which can include gender, ethnicity, race, religion, and profession. Then ask yourself what privileges are extended to you because of this group membership. This identity map will serve as the guiding point on what you can do.
3. Talk to your friends and family
The most change you can make is by engaging your inner circle – friends, relatives, family, and coworkers. Discuss prevailing issues and present them with information that can give insight into why the fight matters. It will be uncomfortable, and you might even experience some resistance. But avoiding this problematic conversation will only allow false beliefs and bad behaviors to continue.
4. Show up and stay engaged
It is not enough to say that you are an ally. You have to show you are one too by calling out discriminatory acts and showing up for marginalized groups. Unlike you, they don’t have the privilege of turning the issue off when the work becomes difficult. You can show your commitment by sharing knowledge resources, donating to a local organization, and volunteering for the cause.
The more allies to help in calling out discrimination, the better it is for advancing the goals of the movement. You can start by taking the time to research, being aware of privilege, talking to your inner circle, and showing up for marginalized groups.