By: Giselle General
When people are being asked to be an ally, based on what I have seen, it is usually in terms of these two:
- asking men to support women in their fight for equality
- asking straight people to support the LGBTQPIA2+ community
Being an ally resonates with me, perhaps due to my inclination to be helpful in whichever way I can.
The more I learn about the different ways that people are marginalized, the more I feel motivated to figure out how to do my part. Interestingly enough, in some ways I actually fall under some of these categories. If I would list a few, I am:
- An immigrant
- An orphan
- A woman of colour
But at the same time, I fall under many categories of privilege, of being in the ‘majority’ so to speak. If I would list a few, I am:
- Straight and cisgender (and I look the part)
- Educated and literate
- Able-bodied and neurotypical
- An immigrant (because in some instances, Indigenous people have more challenges that I don’t necessarily face)
So, what does being an ally look like for me, especially here in Edmonton? Here is how I do it.
It can be as simple as reading stories and news articles in my own time. I see the point in discouraging those who are already marginalized to explain themselves over and over about the hardships they face. Placing this burden on them can be quite re-traumatizing.
The Power of Social Media
I have curated my social media to help me be more informed and aware. A few recommendations I have are below. And many of these are local content which helps me understand contexts of what is going on around me.
Learning about Indigenous Issues: Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, Rise in Solidarity Edmonton, CBC Indigenous
Learning about the LGBT community: Gary the Gay, Lizzy the Lezzy, Pride Centre of Edmonton, George Takei, Assigned Male Comics
Learning about challenges of people with disabilities: Voice of Albertans with Disabilities
The Principle of Compassion
From therapy, I was encouraged to be compassionate towards myself. I think it ended up being an ongoing positive cycle. That encouraging myself to care for myself as much as I care for others, resulted into being more caring towards others, especially those whose hardships I don’t (and will never completely) understand.
The next in my to-do list in the journey is understanding and applying practically what it means to stand in solidarity. I think when it comes to making positive change happen, there will be times when I will have to ask other groups to stand in solidarity with me, and that I will stand in solidarity as other groups fight their battles. I’m sure that there will be lots of opportunities to do either, which I’m looking forward to.