What Does It Mean To Be An Ally?

What does it mean to be an ally? What does it take to become an ally? Does the word ally mean just wearing a pin to show solidarity? Does an ally mean being a good citizen as well?

What would it take to think an ally is more than that—to think it is more active work and not passive work? An ally can be as simple as calling someone out on their oppressive behavior, stopping someone from making hasty generalizations about someone who is trans, disabled, racially different, affected by stereotypes, or being a victim of any form of abuse and mistreatment. An ally can simply just mean being able to not be a bystander—to be engaging and informed about what’s going on.


“If we tell ourselves that the only problem here is hate, we avoid facing the reality that it is mostly nice non-hating people who perpetuate racial inequality.” —Ellis Cose, 1997

“As racism has become less visibly obvious since the 1960s, it has become easier for those not directly victimized by it to ignore it.” —Clarence Page, 1996

“To those who believe the battle against discrimination has been won, I  say, look at the realities of paychecks and power.” —Linda Chavez-Thompson, 1997

How can we come to the conclusion of what an ally is? Maybe we can start a conversation about what is really going on in the world. We can start listening to others and their perspectives—we can remain open-hearted and open-minded. If we see how useful working together is, we can find a way to accomplish more goals. The goal itself is to be active; to make sure that we call out injustice, unfair treatment, and the barriers we seem to think are invisible. Once we realize the bridging the gap will not work—we fill the gap. If we are conscientious and committed to the work we do as a society, as individuals, on the local level, on the regional level, on the institutional level,  and beyond, we can define and even reify the essence of what an ally is, can be, or should be.

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