Being an ally for universal equality and representation and a conscious citizen is something that takes work and attention every day. It is something we look at closely in our Allyship 101 Workshop. You need to keep your eyes and ears open to what is happening around you and have a willingness to use all of the tools you have to help even the playing field and eliminate discrimination for everyone. This is not work that we can take a vacation from, but there are some simple things that we can all do to work towards a better future.
Give Your Time
One of the most valuable things you have is your time. Over the past year, we have learned again and again how precious it is and how quickly it can slip away or we can take it for granted. And as the world goes through this reawakening, many people are reorganizing their priorities to give more time to things that align with their values (like spending time with family) and less to things they previously felt like they had to do (like being nearly chained to an office desk for 40+ hours a week).
When we think of volunteering, many of us think of thing like helping out at food banks, working with arts and culture organizations as a hobby or maybe mentoring youth. But there are all kinds of ways that you can help to boost individuals in your community or can work towards long-lasting systemic change by volunteering your time. Find a charity that you feel passionately about and offer some time. Or, you could volunteer for a local candidate during an upcoming election. Join community groups and professional associations and use those opportunities to promote diversity and inclusion.
Volunteering has a wealth of benefits for you as well as for those you give your time to. It can increase happiness, sense of purpose and your community connections. It is an especially great choice for those who are retired and have a wealth of work experience and knowledge to offer others.
We live in a world where we can have almost anything in the world delivered to our doorstep in a few days with just a click of a button. But do you pay attention to the impact of how you choose to spend your money?
One of the best ways that we can all promote diversity and help create a more equitable distribution of wealth is through our spending power. Money really does make the world go ‘round and people are paying attention not only to the things you choose to buy but also who you choose to spend your money with.
Look into the companies you support and how they impact your local community and the economy as a whole. Do you agree with the company’s values and business practices? Are they supporting their staff or cutting huge checks daily only for a select few at the top? Are you able to find a similar product at a local establishment? Are you supporting business owners from a variety of backgrounds?
Another way to support diversity and representation is by looking into how you spend your entertainment dollars and by paying attention to advertising. What television shows and movies are you watching? What books are you reading? Are you supporting brands that show diversity in their marketing? For example, how size inclusive are the clothing stores that you frequent?
We have seen so many impacts of climate change over the past decade and we each have a responsibility to change our daily practices to reduce the damage that we do as people in the future. Look into reducing your footprint through sustainable products. Examine the practices of businesses when it comes to the environment before you buy. Who do those businesses support politically? Are they working towards being more sustainable in the future?
We have so much information coming to us at all times these days. We get news alerts on our phones, have access to millions of websites (some more credible than others) and see people posting stories, opinions and information on social media. But even when everything is coming directly to your inbox or is available on your daily feed, you still have to put in some work to get to the root of any news story.
While most media outlets will claim that they are unbiased, many have a political leaning. This is more pronounced in some countries than others, but is true the world over. If you have a main news source, understand that there is a good chance on at least some issues, they are not given you the full spectrum of information. Seek out opposing opinions before making your own judgements on what to believe and support.
Diversifying your social media feeds can be one of the easiest ways of opening yourself up to a wider range of perspectives. Follow activists and people who are exposed to different sides of the world, either because of a differing identity, location or circumstances. If you see someone post a news event (even someone you know and trust), do your own research before jumping on board and reposting.
If you’re interested in issues of equality and social justice, seek out voices who are affected by those issues and unbalanced systems on a daily basis. Look to them for information and what you can do to help. If you can, amplify their voices for others on your own platforms.
There are so many little things that we can do to help improve the world around us and make it more inclusive and safe for all. Do your part to help in the movements that are looking to break down systemic failures and realize long-term change. But look to your own impact as well. This is a great way of boosting your own effective allyship and goodwill. If you want to learn more about what it means to be an effective ally, our Allyship & Advocacy Workshop Series is all about finding new ways to make an impact and support marginalized and historically excluded communities.