10 Tips on How To Be a Better Ally (According to Activists, Authors and Other Allies)

Art by Amber Ibarreche  @amberibarreche

Art by Amber Ibarreche @amberibarreche

At a panel hosted by the Teen Vogue Summit 2017, speakers Jessamyn Stanley (Yoga Instructor, Author, body positivity advocate), Vera Papisova (Teen Vogue Wellness Editor), Tyler Ford (Associate Editor at them., transgender activist) and Amani Al-Khatahtbeh (Founder and Editor of MuslimGirl), along with moderator and civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson, led a discussion about "How To Be a Better Ally," dissecting topics such as everyday activism - "ally-ship is a series of actions, not an identity," says Ford - building a movement and recharging your batteries when fighting an uphill battle. 

Below are 10 of their expert tips on How To Be a Better Ally, for any one who's hungry for a better, more inclusive world.

1.  "Nobody is voiceless, just those who are systematically silenced," says Al-Khatatbeh. "How can you use your privilege to amplify others' stories?," asks Papisova. There's one way that's very simple, she adds: "sit down and listen."

2.  "Reach for sources of information that come from that community and share those voices," suggests Al-Khatatbeh.

3.  "Never ask anyone for explanation of themselves," shares Papisova. Take it upon yourself to read writings, watch films and listen to music from members of the community you want to know more about.

4.  "One of the biggest ways you can show up is by checking your own people," says Al-Khatatbeh. As awful as it is, they're more likely to listen to you than someone from a community they are prejudiced towards.


5.  "You have to be an ally inside your home before you can be an ally outside your home," says Ford. "What's the point of showing up and protesting in the street if you can't check your racist family member at the Thanksgiving table?," adds Al-Khatatbeh.

6.  Build a coalition. "Ultimately, we're not all going to see things the same way," says Stanley. "You gotta see the big picture if we agree on more than we don't."

7.  Movements can and totally should stand for more than one cause, adds Papisova: "People are still fighting to feel like they have space," which she says causes in-fighting. "You can still have a voice by speaking up for someone else.

8.  Be a career activist (even if you can't swing the non-profit life). "Any job you have, make sure the people you're working with are different than you," says Papisova. She adds: "any job can be activism if you're doing the right thing.

9.  Stay grounded. "Maintain a bigger perspective," says Al-Khatatbeh. "We need to make ourselves centered in our purpose."

10.  Stay on track with self-care. "You can't give 100% to the movement if you aren't 100% yourself," says Al-Khatatbeh, who notes that it's much easier to perform regular, preventative self-care than to try to recoup after burning out. Stanley adds: "My worth is important to the movement. Taking care of myself is important to the movement. Especially when living in a marginalized body."



Kimi Recor