Tips and Tricks from a Part-Time Ally

Rachael Albert, Junior Guest Writer

Good job. By reading this article you are already one step up from being willfully ignorant. I can also assume that you either consider yourself an ally, or are trying to be one, and the last thing you want is for people to label you as a bigot. Being a part-time ally myself, I am going to break down some ways you can be a better ally to any marginalized group.

Ask for peoples’ pronouns. I know, starting with LGBTQ+ struggles right off the bat, but stick with me. Asking a person’s pronouns goes beyond queer people, it is a sign of respect to anyone. And, if you want to seem super informed, ask which pronouns a person uses in any given scenario. For example, someone may use they/them pronouns while in school, but prefers to use he/him pronouns at home. Bottom line: if you don’t know someone’s pronouns, just ask, they won’t get mad.

Don’t rely on an oppressed group to give you the exact history of why they are oppressed. Some people may not know the history, and others may just not want to discuss it. In most cases, your questions can be answered with a quick Google search, so don’t burden the oppressed group with having to educate you; they’ve been through enough. Unless a person offers, don’t ask. This can go for many things, whether it is a disability, an identity, a piece of clothing, or anything else. Unless a person specifically opens the floor for you to ask them questions, don’t ask. That being said, something like asking for a person’s name and pronouns is basic information that is needed to refer to someone correctly. As an example of something you shouldn’t ask, don’t ask a hijabi, a Muslim woman who wears a hijab, why they wear a hijab. It is personal and not something you need to know to get to know the person.

Don’t over-apologize. If you mess something up, it’s okay; no one is asking you to be perfect. Simply apologize, correct yourself, then move on. There is no point in dwelling on your mistakes. Over-apologizing can make a situation uncomfortable for everyone involved, so just remember that no one will be mad at you for messing up a pronoun or the name of a holiday. We’re all human, mistakes happen, it’s how we learn.

Hopefully this short list will help you to be a better ally, and remember to be respectful, understanding, and that it is okay to goof up. If you already knew all that, then good job, and maybe you can bestow some of this knowledge onto the people around you. And again, simply by reading this you are educating yourself more than many people would, so give yourself a pat on the back.

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