Each spring, ROOTEd (Respecting Ourselves and Others Through Education) holds a series of events about allyship in social justice, otherwise known as Allies Series. The programming usually consists of an allyship 101 teach-in, a discussion, and a panel featuring activists and community organizers. Having been a ROOTEd Peer Facilitator for the past three years, I think this is some of the most meaningful work the group does.
Most fundamentally, allyship means aligning yourself with a person, cause, or movement with whom/which you don’t identify. This might look like a non-black person supporting Black Lives Matter. On a more interpersonal level, it might be naming an oppressive comment a friend makes for what it is when neither of you experience that particular oppression. ROOTEd emphasizes ‘ally’ as a verb over ‘ally’ as a stable identity. Allyship is proven through continuous and active engagement, not through mere identification, which can lead to appropriation of struggle. Self-proclaimed allies who latch on to the identity but don’t actively challenge oppression, whether by redistributing resources or educating themselves and their communities, are a disservice to what allyship could and should look like.