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23rd April 2024

Becoming an Anti-Racist Ally: A Guide to Taking Action in a Changing World

profile photo of Chikere Igbokwe
Author Chikere Igbokwe
five hands of different colors holding each other's wrists in a circular pattern

In recent years, the world has witnessed a significant shift in societal attitudes towards racism. As conversations around race become bolder and more inclusive, the importance of being an anti-racist ally has never been more crucial. In effect meaningful change, active engagement in anti-racist efforts is essential. One powerful way to contribute is by becoming an anti-racist ally. This involves not only recognising and challenging one’s own biases but also actively supporting and advocating for marginalised communities. Below, we’ll explore the concept of allyship, define anti-racism, and provide actionable tips for being an effective anti-racist ally.

Understanding and defining Allyship and Anti-Racism

Allyship is the active and intentional practice of supporting and advocating for marginalised individuals or groups, particularly in spaces where they may not have the same level of privilege or representation. It involves listening, learning, and taking action to challenge systems of oppression. An ally actively listens to and amplifies the voices of those experiencing discrimination. They work to educate themselves and others, and takes tangible actions to promote equity and justice.

Anti-racism, on the other hand, is the commitment to challenging and dismantling racism in all its forms. It goes beyond simply being “not racist” and requires actively opposing racist beliefs, policies, and actions. Anti-racism involves recognising the ways in which society privileges certain racial groups while marginalising others and working to address and redress these inequities.

The Changing Landscape of Conversations on Racism

In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in the way society discusses and confronts racism. With the rise of social media and increased awareness of systemic injustices, people are engaging in bolder and more honest conversations about race and privilege. This shift has led to greater visibility for marginalised voices and a heightened awareness of the need for systemic change.

Why Everyone Should Be Part of the Conversation

Conversations about race and racism are not just the responsibility of those directly affected by it. They are everyone’s responsibility. Racism thrives in silence and ignorance, and it is only by actively engaging in these conversations that we can begin to dismantle it. Every individual, regardless of their race or background, has a role to play in challenging racism and promoting equity and justice.

graphic on 4 common misconceptions of allyship (Performing, Platitudes, Position, Perfection)

Actionable Tips for Being an Anti-Racist Ally

  1. Educate Yourself: Take the time to educate yourself about the history of racism and its ongoing impacts on marginalised communities. Read books, watch documentaries, and listen to podcasts by Black and people of colour educators and activists. Understanding the roots of racism is essential for effectively challenging it.
  2. Listen and Amplify Voices: Actively listen to the experiences and perspectives of people of colour without centering yourself or your own experiences. Amplify their voices by sharing their stories, promoting their work, and advocating for their inclusion in discussions and decision-making processes.
  3. Speak Up Against Racism: Challenge racist attitudes, behaviours, and systems whenever you encounter them, whether it’s in your personal or professional life. Use your privilege to intervene in situations where marginalised individuals are being discriminated against.
  4. Take Action: Get involved in initiatives that are working towards racial justice and equity. This could involve volunteering, attending events, or supporting advocacy campaigns.
  5. Reflect on Your Own Biases: Examine your own biases and privileges, and commit to unlearning harmful beliefs and behaviours. Engage in self-reflection and seek feedback from others to continually grow and evolve as an ally.
  6. Support Minority-Owned Businesses: Consciously support businesses owned by people of colour by frequenting their establishments and purchasing their products and services. Economic empowerment is a crucial aspect of combating systemic racism.
  7. Advocate for Policy Change: Use your voice and vote to support policies and candidates that prioritise racial equity and social justice. Advocate for legislative changes that address systemic inequities and protect the rights of marginalised communities.
  8. Engage in Difficult Conversations: Be willing to engage in uncomfortable conversations about race with friends, family members, and colleagues. Approach these discussions with empathy, humility, and a willingness to listen and learn from different perspectives.
  9. Foster Inclusive Spaces: Create inclusive environments in your personal and professional circles where people of all races feel welcome, respected, and valued. Challenge exclusionary practices and promote diversity and representation in all aspects of life.
  10. Commit to Lifelong Learning and Action: Recognise that being an anti-racist ally is an ongoing journey that requires continual learning, growth, and action. Stay informed, stay engaged, and stay committed to making a positive difference in the fight against racism. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Use every mistake as learning moments.

Resources

Books:

Podcasts – Empire

Shiftbalance has a number of online resources available around Allyship, as well as developing numerous e-learning courses on the topic. See our Learning and Development page for more info on how we use e-learning solutions for antiracism and other Diversity and Inclusion trainings. 

Author: Chikere Igbokwe – Founder of Inclucive DEIB Consultancy, Allyship Community, Book Club and Diversity Advocate.

profile photo of Chikere Igbokwe

https://www.linkedin.com/in/chikereigbokwe/

Chikere is an accomplished Executive Recruiter, Facilitator, and DEIB Leader with a resolute dedication to anti-racism and allyship. Her unwavering passion for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) fuels her mission to educate employees, champion anti-racism and allyship, and propel organisations towards greater diversity and inclusivity. Chikere equips organisations with the knowledge and tools needed to become catalysts for meaningful change.

As the visionary founder of Inclucive, a DEIB Consultancy, Chikere has dedicated herself to assisting organisations in embedding inclusion at their very core. Her approach values long-term partnerships and thrives on collaboration with clients who share a commitment to laying a solid foundation for equity and inclusion.

In addition to her consultancy work, Chikere spearheads Allyship.co.uk, a vibrant community providing a safe haven for allies to gather, learn, and actively engage in their journey from Ally to Accomplice. She is also the creative force behind the Allyship Book Club, a thriving community boasting 450 members and steadily growing.