Essay about What Makes A Good Ally?

Essay about What Makes A Good Ally?

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In asking the question, “what makes a good ally?”, I draw upon several articles on the Indigenous self-determination movement and ally activism to find the answer, including Harsha Walia’s “Decolonizing Together: Moving Beyond a Politics of Solidarity Toward a Practice of Decolonization,” Zainab Amadahy’s “Listen, Take Direction, and Stick Around: A Roundtable on Relationship Building in Indigenous Solidarity Work,” and Dr. Lynn Gehl’s “Ally Bill of Responsibilities.” Each article proposes different ways of being an effective ally, including, as Amadahy’s title simply states, by listening, taking direction, and sticking around. However, upon reading these articles, I was left with two further questions: what does it mean to identify as an ally, and when someone says, “I am an ally?”, what do they mean?
Many non-Indigenous individuals choose to become active participants, or “allies,” in decolonization efforts that support the self-determination and rights of Indigenous peoples. However, the individualized nature of the ally identity has its own problems: when one believes that being an ally is an identity, as being Indigenous is an identity, their personal desires may supersede the desires of the movement as a whole. Indeed, there is a false equivalency between an individual ally identity and an Indigenous rights movement. Thus, when an activist says, “I am an ally,” they may be speaking from a place of ego, perceiving their actions as something that creates their personal identity, as opposed to being part of the larger movement. To be a good ally is to abandon one’s own status as an individual and fight collectively against a system that systematically oppresses entire groups and peoples.
The individualized nature of the ally ...


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...at in the end, it is the oppressed group that must directly face and live with the consequences of the movement’s actions (27).
Walia, Gehl, and Amadahy’s articles each offer prescriptions for how to be a good ally. An important theme arises amongst these articles: allies must step back and allow Indigenous people to lead the movement. However, it is also important to address that being an ally is not an identity, it is a way to describe what actions an individual undertakes in order to offer, as Walia advocates, “sustained, ongoing commitment” to Indigenous self-determination efforts (47). Being an ally requires individual effort but for a collective good. So, how does someone be a good ally? A good ally must listen, take direction, stick around, and acknowledge their privileges. Lastly, they must reject their ego and not focus on being good but focus on doing good.

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