Category Archives: Social Advocacy / Justice

Highlighting Influential Women & Their Stories

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we initiated a conversation with some notable female leaders at Millersville University, inviting them to share their reflections on the profound influence of women in their lives and careers. This dialogue extended beyond identifying impactful figures on campus; it delved into the essence of inspiration, exploring the attributes they most admire, and the lessons learned from these pivotal relationships. Additionally, we asked for their wisdom directed at young women embarking on their university journey or stepping into the professional world, seeking guidance that could light the path ahead. Our conversation also ventured into the future, discussing the aspirations for women in academia, the workplace, and society at large, alongside the practical steps our university community can take to foster these advancements. The responses we received form a mosaic of insights and aspirations, painting a vivid picture of the strength, resilience, and transformative potential women hold, serving as a beacon of inspiration for Millersville University’s students, faculty, and staff. This narrative not only honors the achievements and challenges of women but also aims to empower our community to actively support and contribute to a more inclusive and equitable future.

Who has been the most influential woman in your life or career? How has she inspired you, and what qualities do you admire most in her?

Pietra Jamison- Senior Executive Associate to the President

My grandmother, Oretha, has been the most influential figure in my life and career journey. She hails from Bamberg, South Carolina, and her life story is one of early hardships and unwavering perseverance.

Growing up without her father and losing her mother at just four years old, she was raised by her mother’s family on a farm. There, she learned the value of hard work and dedication from a young age. Despite being a bright child, illness prevented her from completing her education, but it never dimmed her spirit. Moving to Pennsylvania with my grandfather, she faced further challenges, including his struggles with substance abuse and violence. Yet, through it all, her faith in God and belief in the power of education remained steadfast.

Although denied the opportunity to finish formal schooling, she made sure that all her children and grandchildren received an education. Her mantra, “No one can stop what God has in store for you,” reflects her unwavering optimism and determination. Her unwavering support and emphasis on education motivated me to pursue and complete my graduate degree. I am continually inspired by her tireless work ethic, resilience, and unconditional love. Her influence serves as a constant reminder of the importance of perseverance and staying true to oneself in the face of adversity.

Dr. Mary Beth Williams – Vice President for Student Affairs

The most influential women in my life are my three best friends Ginger Young, Tiffany Crandall, and Lesli Hoey. The four of us became friends in eighth grade (1988) at Southwest Junior High in Little Rock, Arkansas. During one of our first sleepovers, we decided to name ourselves “Lianygerethy” which is a combination of all of our names together, and we have emotionally, physically, and professionally supported each other for 36 years and counting (yes, we are all turning 50 this year). Although we now live in four different states (Arkansas, New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania) with four completely different lives, we always support one another and love one another, we talk often, and we are committed to seeing each other as often as possible. Last fall, we all traveled to Puerto Rico together!

This friendship inspires me because it is one that has stood through the test of time, and it has only gotten better with that time. We challenge each other to be our best selves, our authentic selves. We call one another out when things are not right, and we support one another when there are things to fight for. We ask for each other’s opinions, and we listen to the honest answers we are given because they are, and they have always been given with love first and self-interest last. These women inspire me to be the best version of myself because they have truly seen all of the past versions of myself and have loved me through them. They make me want to be better, do better, and love better. I admire each of them for overcoming their own challenges in life with strength and beauty. We’ve seen each other ugly and sad, and we’ve seen each other beautiful and beaming. Through it all, we have always held onto our friendship like a life preserver in the vast ocean of the world.

I honestly have no idea what the rest of my life will hold, but I know without a shadow of a doubt, the four of us will be in it together helping each other every day.

What advice would you give to young women who are just beginning their university journey or are about to enter the workforce?

Melissa Wardwell – Director of Career Center 

Try to resist the urge to compare your life, success, or abilities to others (and use social media mindfully in that regard). Understand that everyone’s journey is different and remember that success is subjective and defined in different ways by different people.  Focus on your own growth, define your own success, and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small!

NJ Brown – Assistant Director of Fraternity & Sorority Life & Student Engagement

When I started my university journey back in Fall 2014, I remembered how focused I was on graduating in 4 years. When I was looking at my degree audit online, I told myself to stick to Graphic Design because there were more classes available for that concentration and it was easier to plan my four years around it. A year or two into my program, I didn’t want to admit out loud that I didn’t like Graphic Design and that I wished I had asked more questions around illustration as a concentration.

For young women embarking on a new journey, I advise taking your time to learn about your university program. I focused too much on meeting requirements that I didn’t stop to learn about different concentrations or different classes to explore within my program. If I could redo college, I would have chosen all sorts of electives to see which ones resonated with me more than Graphic Design.

For young women entering the work force, still take the time to learn about different professional development opportunities and committees to join. I work for Fraternity and Sorority Life now and I’m glad to join a committee within my professional association and I’m learning more about the Title IX field. It’s ok if your career interests change over time. I certainly did not see myself in FSL or Title IX when I was an undergraduate student, but I also didn’t learn about Higher Education as a career until my senior year of college. Keep your options open and embrace opportunities to learn new skills. You never know where life takes you in a just a few years.

Jackie Aliotta – Assistant Director of Student Organizations & Leadership

Your collegiate years can be very transformative, and you should utilize these years to your advantage. College is a great time to figure out who you are and who you want to become. In addition to excelling academically inside the classroom, get involved co-curricularly outside the classroom as well. Getting involved in clubs and organizations is a great way to meet people, make friends, find your social groups, and enhance your leadership skills. You’re going to develop transferable skills through your involvement that will make you more marketable to future employers. Be a sponge and soak up every opportunity even if you don’t feel completely qualified. Live your best life, network, explore career options, and when you get a seat at the table speak up. You can do anything you set your mind to. 

Lauren Blevins – University Nurse Practitioner & Interim Director of Health Services 

For young women just finishing school and entering the workforce, this may come with some insecurities, and you may question your abilities at times.  It is important to enter your new career eager to learn, ready to challenge yourself, and with confidence.  I encourage women to feel empowered and believe that they are capable and can handle the same challenges as their male colleagues.  Although pay inequity for women is still prevalent, over the past few years we are seeing more women represented in the workforce and holding more executive and managerial roles than in the past.  To be successful, we must prioritize self-advocacy and display assertiveness.  If you cannot be your own champion, you cannot expect others to share your vision or view you as a leader.  You need to be aware of your self-worth, not be afraid to challenge the process, enable others to act, position yourself to set goals, and achieve them. 

We need to cultivate an environment where we continue to learn in our career and not allow anyone to make you feel unworthy of your accomplishments.  I follow the philosophy that you do not ever lose in life; you either win or you learn.  If an outcome is not what we had hoped or expected, we need to take this as an opportunity for growth and make changes to ensure future successes. It is important to ensure your core values align with the institution you work for.  Every company has their own organizational culture.  If you ever feel that your company does not see your dedication or acknowledge your contributions, do not feel powerless.  Instead, you can choose acceptance, and take your talents, experiences, and knowledge to a new environment that shares your vision and values your worth. 

Joni Klopp – Director of Undergraduate Recruitment

Go after what you want. Life is only what you make it, whether on a university campus or in the professional world. Many young women (my younger self included) experience imposter syndrome as they navigate new opportunities. Know your value and don’t be afraid to occupy the space you deserve.

Looking towards the future, what changes do you hope to see for women in academia, the workplace, and society? What steps do you think we can take as a university community to support these changes?

Yvonne DeBlois – Residential Area Director, East Village

Women continue to have a stronger and stronger voice in the workplace and are more empowered to speak up about the disparities we see. As a society, we are getting better at recognizing and calling out biases both conscious and unconscious, and we are lucky at Millersville that we are safe to challenge biases when we see them.

As a university community, we can continue to support these changes by bolstering the systems we have in place that offer resources, recourse, and even perhaps protections to those who do experience or challenge experiences where biases may be at play. We do a good job of reviewing and updating policies and practices so that they may be relevant and flexible as our community needs continue to flex or change. Maintaining this adaptability will allow us opportunity to continue serving our community even in areas we may not be able to fully anticipate.

The insights shared by some of our female leaders at Millersville University have been profoundly inspiring. The diverse narratives presented offer a wealth of wisdom, showcasing the resilience and strength inherent in the female experience. These stories are not just narratives of success but are also guiding lights for overcoming life’s challenges and finding motivation in the face of adversity. We believe that everyone has a story of a woman who has made a significant impact on their lives, whether through direct interaction or through the legacy of their accomplishments. Therefore, we invite our readers to join this meaningful conversation. Share with us: Who are your female role models? How have they inspired you, and what lessons have you drawn from their lives? Let’s continue to build this community of inspiration, sharing stories that uplift and motivate, forging connections that celebrate the incredible contributions of women to our world.

EPPIIC Ways to Spread Kindness on Campus

College life is more than just attending classes, studying, and earning a degree. It’s also about fostering a sense of community and spreading kindness wherever you go. For Millersville University students living on campus, creating a positive and inclusive environment can make your college experience even more memorable. In this blog post, we present creative EPPIIC ways to spread kindness on campus, helping you make the most of your time at Millersville and create lasting memories.

Building Relationships

  • Smile at everyone you meet.
  • Hold the door open for the person behind you.
  • Leave cheerful sticky notes for friends, faculty, and staff.
  • Introduce yourself to others who live in your residence hall.
  • Organize a study group or tutoring session.
  • Start a book-sharing club in your residence hall.
  • Offer to cook a meal for a friend.
  • Surprise your roommate with their favorite snack.

Acts of Service

  • Volunteer at local community events.
  • Participate in campus service events.
  • Mentor a younger student.
  • Offer to help a friend with their chores.
  • Run errands for someone who’s sick.
  • Provide academic support to underclassmen.
  • Assist in set up & clean-up for campus events and programs.
  • Donate unwanted clothing to a local charity.

Random Acts of Kindness

  • Pay for someone’s coffee or meal.
  • Leave anonymous compliments on classmates’ doors.
  • Surprise your roommate with a thoughtful gift.
  • Give a genuine compliment every day.
  • Write and share inspirational quotes.
  • Offer a friendly greeting to passersby.
  • Share a helpful tip with fellow students.
  • Start a kindness challenge on social media.

Supporting Mental Health

  • Promote mental health awareness on campus.
  • Offer a non-judgmental space for friends to vent.
  • Attend mindfulness or meditation sessions.
  • Be sensitive to friends’ mental health needs.
  • Encourage peers to seek professional help when needed.
  • Share resources for counseling and support.
  • Offer to accompany a friend to counseling appointments.
  • Host a stress-relief event in your residence hall.
  • Create a safe space for open conversations.
  • Advocate for mental health initiatives on campus.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • Attend cultural events and gatherings on campus.
  • Learn about different cultures and traditions.
  • Invite international students for cultural exchanges.
  • Support diversity and inclusion initiatives.
  • Challenge stereotypes and biases when you encounter them.
  • Engage in dialogue about cultural awareness.
  • Offer assistance to international students adjusting to campus.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Share traditional recipes with friends.
  • Attend guest lectures on diversity and inclusion.

Acts of Kindness Online

  • Leave positive comments on classmates’ social media posts.
  • Share helpful academic resources.
  • Avoid engaging in online negativity.
  • Promote healthy online discussions.
  • Share inspiring stories and quotes.
  • Offer a virtual shoulder to lean on.
  • Send encouraging messages to friends.
  • Promote online awareness campaigns.
  • Organize virtual events to stay connected.
  • Support online mental health initiatives.

Spreading Joy and Laughter

  • Share funny memes and jokes with friends.
  • Host a game night in your residence hall.
  • Plan surprise movie nights in common areas.
  • Decorate your living space with positivity.
  • Share personal stories of overcoming challenges.
  • Encourage humor and laughter in everyday life.
  • Celebrate birthdays and milestones with friends.

Promoting Self-Care

  • Share self-care tips with friends.
  • Organize self-care workshops and activities.
  • Offer to accompany a friend on a self-care day.
  • Provide support during busy exam periods.
  • Encourage a healthy work-life balance.
  • Create self-care kits for friends.
  • Share stress-relief techniques.
  • Promote regular exercise and healthy eating.
  • Offer to help friends create study schedules.
  • Celebrate each other’s accomplishments.
  • Always be a supportive friend and peer.


Spreading kindness on campus is not only about making others’ lives better but also about enhancing your college experience. These ways to spread kindness on Millersville University’s campus can foster a positive, inclusive, and supportive community. Remember, kindness is contagious, and your actions can inspire others to do the same. So, let’s make our campus a better place, one act of kindness at a time!

*** Graphic by Scott M. Helfrich, Ed.D. 

10 Motivational Quotes from the Black Community

Since 1976, the month of February has been recognized as Black History Month. Why February, you may ask? “Negro History Week” by Carter G. Woodson originally had its debut in February. President Abraham Lincoln, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and African American abolitionist, author, and orator Frederick Douglass, were also both born in February.  

  1. “Freedom is never given; it is won.” – A. Philip Randolph  
  2. “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” – Dr. Mae Jamison 
  3. “One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” – Arthur Ashe 
  4. “You never know which experiences of life are going to be of value . . . You’ve got to leave yourself open to the hidden opportunities.” – Robin Roberts 
  5. “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” – El Hajj Malik El Shabazz  
  6. “Change will not come if we wait for some other people or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – President Barack Obama 
  7. “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.” – Maya Angelou  
  8. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker 
  9. “You never know how or when you’ll have an impact, or how important your example can be to someone else.” – Denzel Washington 
  10. “There’s always something to suggest that you’ll never be who you wanted to be. Your choice is to take it or keep on moving.” – Phylicia Rashad  

Add your own favorite motivational quote from any inspiring individuals from the Black community.  


Gabrielle Krick is a senior Business Administration major with a concentration in Management and minor in Marketing at Millersville University. Her interests include human resources, social media marketing, and content marketing. When she graduates in May 2023, Gabby hopes to work for a large company’s human resources department, specifically representing minorities and the LGBTQ community. She hopes to either stay in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area or move somewhere near Rehoboth, Delaware.  

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How You Can be an Ally in the Fight Against Racism

I want to start off this blog post by saying that I am White and could never begin to understand the struggles that Black people face everyday. It is my responsibility not just as a White person, but as a human being who believes people should not have to live in fear because of the color of their skin, to educate myself on the struggles of black people and learn what I can do to help. I may not be able to share the experiences of Black people, but I can learn about their suffering, stand with them, grieve with them, and fight for change. Being an ally means struggling with others, acknowledging the issue and drawing attention to it. I want the Millersville University community to come together and support our Black brothers and sisters by being allies. By recognizing their suffering and suffering with them. One of Millersville’s EPPIIC core values is compassion. Now more than ever members of the Millersville University community must show compassion and demonstrate leadership to bring about positive change. Here’s how you, no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, can educate yourself and become an ally in the fight against racism: 

  1. Visit this link to check out anti-racism resources including articles and books to read, videos, TV shows, and movies to watch, organizations to follow, and more:*JaTmVVS2r9dqi2IRgtTFHg
  2. Learn about how to show support by reading this article:*JaTmVVS2r9dqi2IRgtTFHg
  3. List of books you can read to learn more about racial justice: 
  4. Click the link to learn how you can support Black-owned businesses:
  5. Here is a resource with links for places and organizations you can donate to, petitions you can sign, and representatives you can contact:
  6. List of bail funds:
  7. Donate to the Official George Floyd Memorial Fund to support his family:
  8. Another good resource showing different ways you can help:
  9. Text “JUSTICE” to 55156 to join Color Of Change, a nonprofit organization, in their efforts to demand justice for Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was shot on February 23rd, 2020.
  10. Text “ENOUGH” to 55156 to join Color of Change in their efforts to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed in her home on March 13th, 2020.

Millersville University is proud of its students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are using their voices to promote positive change in society and are doing what they can to educate themselves about systemic racism. We must remain compassionate and be allies. We must support the Black community and those who are suffering. We must fight for freedom. We must do better. Remember to stay aware and active, but also be sure to stay safe. If you are going to protest, protest peacefully. Continue to follow CDC guidelines to protect yourselves and others from COVID-19. Head over to to visit Millersville University’s virtual calming room to deal with any stress, anxiety, anger, and so on that you may be feeling. Remember that you are not alone. Millersville University is here to help all members of our community in any way we can. Together, we can educate ourselves and support each other, and hopefully make this world a better place for everyone.

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Fall 2019 Disability Film Festival

Every semester Dr. Thomas Neuville organizes the Disability Film Festival. This semester there are three full-length films and five short films being screened. Each screening is held in the Myers Auditorium in McComsey Hall from 5:30–8:30 PM. There will be a post-screening discussion following all screenings. All screenings are free and open to the public.

The festival kicks off on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 with a screening of Raising Faith: Stories about Dyslexia. The film documents the experiences of nine young people and their families. The primary subject, Faith, shares wisdom about the way she learns and how she negotiated her education through middle and high school, and now college.

The second screening on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 consists of five short films: “Ian,” “The Right To Be Rescued,” “The Interviewer,” “The Best and Most Beautiful Things,” and “Awake.” “Ian” documents a boy with a disability who’s determined to play on the playground despite his peers bullying him. “The Right To Be Rescued” tells the stories of people with disabilities affected by Hurricane Katrina. “The Interviewer” focuses on Thomas who gets more than he bargained for in his interview at a prestigious law firm. The film was devised with 12 people living with a disability, all of whom actively participated in the development of the film. “The Best and Most Beautiful Things” highlights the relationship between Brandon and Emily, who are, respectively, learning sign language and trying to speak. “Awake” follows Miles, who is traumatized by his father’s death and is cursed by his own subconscious. He is taught a lesson by his subconscious through repetition of dreams.

Pennhurst: They’ve waited a long time to tell their story is being screened on Tuesday, October 22, 2019. Pennhurst is a documentary chronicling the stories of people whose lives were irrevocably intertwined with the history of the Pennhurst State School and Hospital. Pennhurst was a massive institutional home for the developmentally disabled and closed in 1987.

The festival concludes on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 with the screening of 2e2: Teaching the Twice Exceptional. The sequel to 2e: Twice Exceptional follows teachers of a school in Los Angeles dedicated exclusively to educating highly gifted students with learning disabilities or differences.

Thank you to Dr. Neuville for organizing this educational opportunity for our faculty, staff, students, and community members! We appreciate the work you do here at the ‘Ville.

Glowing Through The Darkness Event

The Center for Health Education and Promotion will be partnering with the Social Advocacy Living Learning Community and Lambda Chi Alpha to host Glowing Through the Darkness. This event supports mental health awareness and participants will be able to walk, roll or run around the quad in the Mental Health Awareness Mile. The event will also have information and activity tables. By participating in the event, you will be supporting those who are affected by suicide and mental health. Engaging in the event will also take the first steps towards breaking the stigma around mental health. Mental Health is very important and affects many people here at Millersville, so it is crucial that we acknowledge it and support those who are affected.

 Glowing Through the Darkness will take place on April 25th from 7-8pm. Check-in will start at 6:30pm on the quad. After the Mental Health Awareness Mile, there will be a glow party for students which will celebrate life in the SMC MPR starting at 8pm. To sign up for the event, there is a link below or you can register at the MU ticket booth.

Make sure to come out and support those affected by mental health and suicide.

Register through this link ! For more information on the Social Advocacy Living Learning Community click here. We hope to see you there!



Social Advocacy Living-Learning Community

Located in West Village Suites on Millersville’s campus is the Social Advocacy Living- Learning Community, which engages 20 undergraduate students. A living-learning community, also known as an LLC, is a group of students who live together in the same residence hall and share similar academic or other interests. These communities are designed to encourage student engagement through designed co-curricular learning activities.

Each community is themed and groups students with similar majors or interests together to create an environment that helps students gain skill sets such as effective communication skills, and networking skills among many others. These communities offer these students a unique residential experience that can provide them with skills inside and outside of the classroom. Within these living-learning communities, students may take advantage of tutoring, guest speakers, cultural programs, career workshops, community service, and research projects.

The Social Advocacy  Living-Learning Community that we have here on campus was created for Anthropology, Psychology, Social Work, and Sociology majors. According to Dr. Karen Rice, Department Chairperson for the School of  Social Work and adviser for the Social Advocacy Living-Learning Community, this LLC is centered around social advocacy and empowers students to be aware of  cultural and social diversity within our society. Students who participate are passionate about advocacy, equity, social justice, and inclusion.

Dr. Karen Rice has provided some information about the program and activities her students have been participating in . She said, “Since our inception this fall, our students have engaged in team building exercises learning ways to communicate and enhance trust. They have explored their own identities and that of others and identified ways to foster change and build capacity. ”

She also touched on the specific activities her students are participating in. “Some of our students participated in the United Way Day of Caring.  Additionally, our students had the opportunity to learn, first-hand, from a Syrian refugee the challenges faced in obtaining employment and ways others are assisting in overcoming those hurdles. Our students participated in a cooking class led by one of the Syrian refugee women. This experience not only fostered compassion but allowed our students to explore their own assumptions by trying something new and hearing personal stories .”

Overall, this program is very important and is a great way for students to be able to build a positive community, and positive social change. To find more information about living-learning communities, check out our website .

5 Faces of Oppression

Oppression, as we define it is—prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control. Of course what we might start to realize is oppression can take on many forms. It can affect many dimensions of society and social life. Oppression can attach itself to the workplace, within institutions, possibly within homes, in the realm of education, and occur between person to person.


On Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 at 6:00p.m. in the South Village Great Room, a discussion will be held observing oppression. It will not only talk about how we define it, but also how oppression itself has five (5) faces. These faces are: exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, violence, and cultural imperialism. Through this discussion we will be looking to expand on ideas such as these:

  • Discuss what racism can be and how it can take many forms. 
  • How to confidently respond to acts of discrimination. 


The goal of this event is to not only facilitate a dialogue, but also affirm with a “call to action” identifying oppression as a whole and its associated umbrella terms. More so to that, inspire students who feel lost about how to approach these conversations. What we are urging is that students come to this event looking to learn and respond affectively and actively to halting oppression. Students have a role that determines the success of the program. Not only will you be asked to generate a willing participation, but also to ask questions. The idea behind this event is to show how students can carry this information into tense situations. It encourages a stronger,   more positive approach to impacting negative ways of thinking.

If you are willing and able to commit to this event, not only for your benefit but for others as well—we would to have your company. RA LaChaun Freeland and RA Eugene Thomas will be hosting this event. Be sure to bring your friends who may have a passion for justice or just has trouble helping others. See you there!



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.