Ever find yourself wanting to help in a social movement although it does not affect you directly? You want to help a particular demographic although you are not a part of it.
We live in an age where social media is the modern activist’s tool. Twitter is a vocal weapon. Minority movements have gained dominance through platforms like Twitter and Facebook. The term ‘minority’ does not only apply to minority in numbers; it also means the minority in representation. A group can be the majority in size, but their voices and views are suppressed by the dominant narrative, which can be smaller in size but hold greater power and presence.
How do you support a movement when the movement does not relate to you? The go-to way of thinking is, ‘It does not affect me so I do nothing,’ but you can do something. In other words, this is how to be an ally if you are a person of privilege.
To be a person of privilege varies in numerous ways, although, in this scenario, it means having an unjust benefit or advantage solely based on the individual’s identity, which can include social status, citizenship, race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. Depending on the identity criteria some can be more privileged than others. When you embody a characteristic that is perceived as more favorable to society than another and that characteristic gives you an unearned advantage, you are considered privileged.
Now the question is, ‘How can I help?’ and ‘What do I do?’
1. Understand your position
Once you understand you have an unfair advantage, use it to help others. If the discussion is about the oppressed and the oppressed are the only group shining a light on the issue, their voices fade into the background and the discourse only stays among that demographic. Using your voice to support a movement expands the narrative and brings diversity within the topic. Once your voice is heard, the voices of many may follow.
2. Research, research and more research
Wanting to help and speaking out is important, but knowing what you are speaking out about is even more so. Take the viral hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. During the earlier development of this trending topic, most people did not understand that the phrase was meant to show police brutality towards the black community. The hashtag #AllLivesMatter started due to a lack of understanding of the message behind what #BlackLivesMatter really meant. #BlackLivesMatter was meant to show that all lives are not being taken, nor being treated as less than human or constantly seen as criminals. #BlackLivesMatter started to show that black lives matter, too. The black community and black lives should be treated and represented equally like all other lives. Doing your research on an issue or a movement through social media posts and by reading articles can save you from voicing an ignorant claim and help you be an ally to those who are not in your position.
3. Speak, act and do
The final and most important aspect of helping is to speak up. It is one thing to want to help but another to actually help. Lending a helping hand in conversation and not being afraid to inform others is extremely important. Simple acts of posting an informative article, retweeting empowering words and being a supportive voice in conversations can go a long way. Remember that as an ally, you are supporting those whose voices are not being heard, but you do not speak for them. You only uplift, encourage and amplify what they are saying.