Reading time: 3 Min.

An ally is a person who stands up for or advocates for people and groups other than his or her own.

There are people who, like myself, experience discrimination or multiple discrimination. As a queer woman of color, I experience LGBTQIA* hostility, sexism, and racism. I carry this burden every day like a backpack that I can’t take off. Allies understand that this burden exists and are willing to carry it.

Any person can be an Ally. Even if you are not a member of a marginalized group, you have the ability to support others within those groups.

In order to support disadvantaged people, we must embark on a journey all our own. One journey I would like to encourage you to take begins with mapping your own identity.

My identity and privileges

The path to Ally is different for each person and depends on their membership in diverse identity groups. This means that we must first be aware of which group we feel we belong to. Our identities can be complex and include various aspects such as gender, ethnicity, family roles, professional roles, and religious affiliations. It is best to make a list and write down all the affiliations.

For each group, ask yourself the following 4 questions:

  1. What privileges do I experience because of this group membership?
  2. Have I ever been disadvantaged because of this group membership?
    It is quite possible that you experience both privileges and disadvantages within a group.
  3. Which of these affiliations are visible and which are invisible?
  4. Which of these affiliations are most important to you?

If you have taken a self-critical look at your identity, you will surely realize that you too are disadvantaged at one point or another. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get support from others in these situations? The awareness of your privileges opens at the same time the view for the disadvantage of others. You can become an ally to those who don’t have your privileges.

Do’s & Dont’s: Some food for thought that can help you on your way to becoming an ally:

Do’s & Dont’s: Some food for thought that can help you on your way to becoming an ally:

6 things you should absolutely do:

  1. Be open and listen. When members of marginalized groups tell you about their experiences of discrimination, accept them and learn.
  2. Be open to conversations – both with people within oppressed groups and with people who have more privilege.
  3. Be aware of your implicit biases and try to avoid them. These are biases that are embedded in our subconscious. They cause us to have feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics such as skin color, ethnicity, age, or appearance. (A free test called the Harvard Implicit Association Test (IAT) to test your cognitive biases can be found here.
  4. Consider what path you can take to change oppressive systems.
  5. Be loud on and offline and give a voice to those who don’t have your privileges.
  6. Educate yourself, learn from history, and follow people on social media, for example, who are standing up against the prevailing ‘-isms’.

5 things you’d better not do:

  1. Don’t assume that every person from a marginalized group feels discriminated against. As they say in my hometown Cologne “Jede Jeck es anders.”
  2. Don’t expect an award for your allyship. It’s not about winning an award and bathing in applause, it’s about empowering others.
  3. Don’t act like you know everything better. Learn to let go of your ego and try to accept that there are always things you can still learn.
  4. Don’t expect people to belong to a certain identity group. For example, your colleague may be gay and need support in his or her coming out process. When you don’t make assumptions, you give people the space they need.
  5. People with experiences of discrimination don’t need pity, they need you, as Ally!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *