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    4 MIN READ

    How to be a better ally 

    Cultivating Allyship Through Conscious Efforts

    Imagine a world where you are seated down for a meal with a group of friends and the wait-staff walks up to the table to say: “Hi everyone! Still, sparkling or tap, and what pronouns should I use for you today?”.

    Being an ally is defined by Forbes as “any person that actively promotes and aspires to advance the culture of inclusion through intentional, positive and conscious efforts that benefit people as a whole.”

    In very simplistic terms, allyship is the practice of harmony that our world desperately craves now more than ever. Whilst embodying allyship comes very naturally for some, human nuances can sometimes make digesting allyship incredibly complex, and there’s varied literature about the concept adding to the noise. In this way, our personal journey towards allyship is part of a great collective awakening, but like attending a funeral, leaves a dualistic collapse of personal comfort with shared pain in its wake. Knowing that our incoming reality relies on the creativity of individuals, here are 4 of our own personal realisations about allyship.


    Using a quote from Forbes about allyship might seem like a contradictory move, given that for a lot of us, Forbes is a fore-bearer of the kind of capitalist celebration that we are hoping to dismantle in this lifetime. Their interest in allyship might come as too little too late for some, but to me, it epitomises the changing paradigm we are feeling the discomfort of. Just earlier this year we saw just how quickly brands could be publicly “cancelled” by ignorance to intersectionality. Think *DollsKill* failing to engage in sensitive conversation about the Black Lives Matter movement. It highlighted some of the drastic gaps in human awareness that we suffer from in plain sight. At the moment, a brand selling and marketing clothing are rarely schooled on issues of people of colour. But that doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way. Regardless of our very human ability to make moral judgements, it is critical we use precious energy to generate solutions to issues rather than adding our own unabated criticisms all the time. We sometimes forget that instead of demanding something to be cancelled, we can hold a conversation about how it can be mended or improved.

    In the example of DollsKill, instead of being burnt to the ground, the fast-fashion company were able to donate $100k to the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, and reinvigorate their process of buying and selling merchandise to include $1 million worth of black-owned brands in their clothing range. In our quest for allyship, these are the sorts of actions we can call brands to invest in, rather than just yelling “die!”.


    We must remember that as consumers, there will always be blood on our hands because of the way our current world is structured. It’s important to acknowledge that this reality is beyond unideal and the only way forward is to create new realities. We know we are a few worlds away from a world where pronouns are part of public dining experiences. But those worlds will get further away the more we seek to criticise ourselves and those around us for missteps.

    Confronting the ego to acknowledge that we’ve done wrong by others whether we meant to or not can be hard, especially knowing that despite our best efforts, we will probably slip up again. Combined with changing the status quo though, we have to support ourselves to feel safe in the reality we are currently in. Although at first it’s easy to feel hurt by reality, when the past catches up with you, it’s important to recognise that it means opportunity is knocking on your door. By allowing shame and fear to rule our mental state, we are not able to support anyone as an ally, because we are either driven to inaction, or we block the conversation from extending further than ourselves. In other words, we aren’t really open to listening when we are feeding our own personal shame stories.

    Remember, every single human has been reared under the same oppressive systems, so unlearning and relearning is a collective experience. You may have heard the term “decentering the self”, particularly in conversations about allyship. All it really means is leaving space for others in our quests for a better world. It looks like asking questions and listening to the answers rather than deciding you already know. It also looks like celebrating other perspectives without affecting our sense of self. It’s where there’s less right vs wrong, and more of: “That’s really interesting!”.


    Keeping our ears open eagerly for when we might be able to learn more allows us to turn experiences that feel like wrongdoings into opportunities for connection, particularly with the people who illuminate new information for us. Imagine what kind of world we would create if we thanked people for calling us out when we aren’t acting in alignment with a new world. Sometimes, thank-you is all that is necessary, but sometimes there is sorrow that needs to be acknowledged too. Sorry is a word that is hard to come by, but in our collective healing process, sometimes sorry is the most vulnerable acknowledgement of an obvious pain. Even if we aren’t ready to respond further than a simple sorry because our emotions are overwhelming, by saying the word, we create a culture of self-acceptance and begin the process of freeing everyone from old cycles.


    I’m learning too that it is not anyone’s job to comfort us all the time when we slip up, or to constantly be educating us. Whilst allyship does rely heavily on individuals from marginalised communities, we need to be realistic with our privilege in order to support and contribute to the authorship of a new world. Challenge your sense of entitlement to answers, and be committed to doing the work rather than expecting results to be something you can buy or find magically. Find time to be grateful for the abundance in your life. Doing any form of self-work means establishing your key self-sustainability practices so you have the energy to be the person you want to be.

    You are the flower farmer and their flowers. You are the god and the human. Remember your connection to earth, water, fire and air: nourishing food, plenty of water, exercise and taking time to breathe and relax. Your energy is precious.