9 Students Share the Importance of Allyship
9 STUDENTS SHARE THE IMPORTANCE OF ALLYSHIP
By ELLEN KAZEMBE ‘20 and ESTHER KIM ‘22
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND CONTRIBUTOR
Volume 1, Issue 2
What is an ally? According to Merriam Webster dictionary, being an ally is defined as, "supportive association with another person or group. Such association with the members of a marginalized or mistreated group to which one does not belong". We all hold different identities and privileges in different aspects of our life and they intersect in multiple ways that are important to our sense of self. To be an ally is to offer acknowledgement of others’ identities, and to recognize the power in our lives to support each other. To be an ally is to be willing to learn, and offer sympathy, and to strive for empathy. To be an ally is a unique process for each person. Here are nine short reflections about allyship written by students across the globe.
1. Ashleigh Nyambirai, Masters in International Trade and Commercial Law, Durham University, United Kingdom
“The importance of allyship is self-evident: the greatest advances in redressing inequality were made possible through it. It shifts the conversation from that of blame and guilt to that of accountability through self reflection. Allyship creates a cocoon of support for the disenfranchised, thus allowing a metamorphic shift in social norms and dynamics that sees a more diverse society unified by the need to do and be better.”
2. Krista Grund-Wickramasekera, Economics and Political Science, Lake Forest College, United States
“Allyship reinforces the idea that we do not face our challenges alone, but we are always within arms length of support. Even if one group is exclusively facing a struggle, this will impact everyone in the long-run, so it is of utmost importance to fight alongside one another in the pursuit of equity and inclusion. As written in To Kill A Mockingbird, one of my favorite books, "‘you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.'’. Allyship means you are purposely putting yourself in a vulnerable position for the benefit of someone else and their movement towards a path of justice and righteousness.”
3. Detmer Kremer, Masters in Human Rights, University College London, United Kingdom
“Solidarity is essential for any activism, because all of our oppressions are interlinked, and without each other any perceived liberation is not just incomplete, it is false. Solidarity allows us to learn and grow, and to resist the systems profiting from dividing us. It shows us new ways of being, and new names for ourselves and our experiences.”
4. Munotidaishe Timba, Sport and Exercise Science, the University of North Hampton, United Kingdom
“Allyship for me is the discovery of new cultures and beliefs. Through this process you discover that although people are from different cultures we have many aspects that are similar. And by finding these similarities you further strengthen your connections and realise that being an ally is not designated to one skin colour, but can encompass all people regardless of their nationality, race or religion.
5. Andisiwe Tena, Psychology and English, Varsity College Port Elizabeth, South Africa
“Allyship is important because it promotes working together and forming meaningful relationships that actually make a difference. Like men supporting women in feminismt causes or white people supporting black people in racial causes.”
6. Prince Cooper, Exercise in Sports Science, Murdoch University, Australia
“Well the importance of allyship to me represents the definition of unity. Unity means to be together and that's what allyship aims for, making sure the underrepresented are appreciated and never alone. Allyship also becomes a voice for the voiceless, being a vessel for those that don't have the strength to fight alone, but with allyship you never have to fight alone, you become united amongst others with the same vision to support the underrepresented
7. Munotidaishe Timba, Sport and Exercise Science, the University of North Hampton, United Kingdom
“Allyship for me is the discovery of new cultures and beliefs. Through this process you discover that although people are from different cultures, we have many aspects that are similar. And by finding these similarities you further strengthen your connections and realise that being an ally is not designated to one skin colour, but can encompass all people regardless of their nationality, race or religion."
8. Devota Niyikiza, Psychology criminology and Justice,Edith Cowan University, Australia
“Allyship strives to promote inclusivity, it reinforces the importance of listening and uplifting those around us, as this helps even the marginalised and underrepresented voices be heard.
9. Michelle Nyambirai, Finance and Accounting, Carleton University, Canada
“Allyship means understanding that you always have someone who has your back no matter what. It is knowing that you never have to navigate through the struggles of this world alone. It feels like practising social distancing without ever feeling distant from your social circle.”
We often feel alone, defeated, and powerless when we are faced with discrimination or ignorance. Blatant hatred and microaggressions are hurtful, and our multiple identities and struggles exacerbate feelings of hopelessness. Allyship is a way to bond through the pain in our lives, standing up to bigotry, and provide a community for activists to have a support network. This is hard work. This is what it means to be an ally. You, too, can be an ally. You choose.