Campus resources talk being a good ally, importance of educating each other
Being an ally can be defined as rejecting oppression, creating inclusivity and fostering an environment where people are safe and welcomed as important in all moments.
At the University, resources like the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and the LGBTQ Resource Center are available to help students better understand what it means to be an ally.
The Center for Diversity and Inclusion interim director, Michael Crook defined an ally as someone who holds a dominant identity in society and advocates for a marginalized group by using their given privileges.
“A person who actively promotes and aspires to advance the culture of inclusion in society,” Crook said. “For example, white women can be actionable allies to people of color, men can be allies to women, able-bodied people can be allies to those with different abilities and so on”
LGBTQ Resource Center director, Kevin Nguyen, shared what the community can do to become better allies and ways to educate oneself and others.
“Don’t wait for someone else to confront inappropriate behavior,” Nguyen said. “Use inclusive language and respect pronouns.”
Another way to be a good ally is to determine your motives for being an ally within yourself. Asking yourself questions like ‘why do I care about being an ally for this community?’ or ‘why do I want to be an ally?’ then figure out if your motives center you or the community you are trying to be an ally for, Crook said.
He added that a good ally centers the marginalized communities’ and individuals’ experiences and truth and work to ensure the betterment of that community.
“Listen to the needs and stories of your friends and family and people who have marginalized identities,” Crook said. “Own not just your intentions but also your impact.”
There are multiple opportunities on campus for students to educate themselves on becoming good allies such as attending events and workshops and engaging in classroom discussions. According to Crook and Nguyen, learning the appropriate language for the respective community and apologizing and correcting your mistakes are also beneficial approaches.
“Verbally express your support to marginalized groups and always address any negative statements/comments about others in regards to their identities,” Nguyen said. “Learn why certain terms and phrases are harmful and not acceptable.”
Nguyen details what someone should say or do if put in a situation where others are making derogatory comments. Ignore it, refuse to laugh, casually leave and use soft confrontation while educating like saying ‘please don’t say things like that.’
“Language can be very powerful, taking actions to advocate for the community when no one is watching and working to be the best version of yourself are just a few things that can go a long way in most communities,” Crook said.
CDI offers a “safe, non-judgemental space” to learn about themselves and deepen one’s understanding of others, according to Crook.
Nguyen shared that involving yourself in LGBTQ organizations inside and outside of UH, CAPS and the Montrose Center are ways to actively become a better ally and integrate into different communities.
“I think considering your relationship with someone is really important before you engage in allyship conversations,” Crook said. “Learn by doing, take actions, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and keep going. Discomfort is our teacher and there is no better teacher than experience.”