I Am An Ally (And What That Means)

it is important for those supporting a movement not to usurp control from those powering it.

I am a white, cisgender female who fits most size ‘medium’ clothes.

I am the privileged person who gets heard.

I am not the person to discuss the intricacies of intersectional feminism, the identity struggles many LGBT+ people deal with, or the fat-shaming, racism and ableism that happens in everyday micro-aggressions.

I do not experience it first hand. I experience it through my friends and acquaintances. I witness it when it happens to a stranger in a restaurant or in a clothing shop. I experience it when I sit in a room full of other privileged white, cisgender people who declare that their racist joke or rape joke is “just a joke.”

I experience sexism at a singular level  ― I am a woman. I do not experience it as an ethnic woman, a plus-size woman, a transgender woman or an uneducated woman stuck without resources. I do not experience sexism as a woman whose struggles exist beyond identifying as a woman.

I am an ally and I have only MY voice.

I don’t take someone else’s experiences and use them as my own. I don’t try to “help” those who are not as easily heard in today’s society by trying to identify with their struggles. I don’t pretend that certain battles pertain to me. I don’t pretend they don’t exist just because I don’t experience them.

I will never understand what it’s like to experience racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, intense body shaming, or experience living below the poverty line. I am not here to represent the struggles that I have never experienced but I will always do my best as an ally. I can do my best to not add hate to this world and to use my privilege to help inform ignorant people.

I am an ally and I take that role seriously.

I respect people’s pronouns. I don’t laugh at jokes that hurt people. I don’t accept when the people around me make quick judgments or stereotypes or normalize hateful words.

I read stories from voices that don’t just come from white males and white females. I travel to countries where my hair and my skin make me a minority and I respect the local culture. I get informed about situations that I will never personally experience so I can understand more about them without projecting my privilege onto the topic.

I promote acceptance. I promote equality for all. I promote intersectional feminism.

I am a white, cisgender female who fits most size ‘medium’ clothes.

I am the privileged person who gets heard, but I make sure that while I whole-heartedly support people who are different from me, I don’t speak FOR their experiences.

Allies should defend against ignorance and promote voices of people that have different stories to tell.

Let’s promise to listen.

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This article was originally published on Medium on June 21, 2017.