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Still Making Sense of Allyship

In June, I was already exhausted from my own fear and frustration of growing racism and prejudice as a Chinese woman born and living in the UK, since Brexit, since Covid-19; this continued heartbreak was exacerbated in light the senseless killings and police brutality in the US. Even more so, the dialogue around #BlackLivesMatter, public figures vocalising transphobic ideas, and the exasperation of “why are we still talking about this – why can’t people just treat people as people”. With my final last f***s, I channelled this into three open sessions to help people make sense of the complex picture around how we understand and talk about diversity.

These sessions were designed for people who were trying to make sense of the language used when talking about prejudice; to learn more about the experiences outside of their own; and who wanted to know what they could do to make people feel safer, but didn’t know how. After three hours, engaging with 80+ people, my heart was on track to heal again.

Since then, attendees have changed how they approach talking about race in their workplace; commissioned for organisational training on active allyship; run their own workshops; written beautiful blog and social media posts; joining together to support one another in their own allyship journey; and being braver in having those conversations at home, at work and on social media. These incredible people are owning and using their power, influence and privileges to bring people together through opening up opportunities and environments for a curious, courageous and compassionate conversation that most of us have experienced as divisive, problematic and difficult.

Thank you to each of you have taken part and supported these sessions and subsequent events for specific groups. Due to demand, I will be hosting three more sessions in August. Still open to people who are interested in learning more and addressing their own internal barriers; still free to attend. These sessions are open, semi-structured conversations where we can bring our collective understanding, experiences and tools together to help each of us make more sense around allyship for ourselves. In order to do this, you’ll find a PDF with some ground rules to enable an environment where this work can happen.

TLDR: all you need to do is sign up for details in the form below and bring into the session with you your curiosity, compassion and courage.

Thanks for taking the time and interest in this work! If you have any questions, you can drop me an email. Speak soon!

Crowd-sourced Allyship Resources

One of the most helpful outcomes from the Making Sense of Allyship sessions has been the crowd sourcing of resources to deepen our own understanding and doing our own work – a key component for becoming an effective ally – whichever type of ally you choose to be.

Of course, this is not a definitive or exhaustive list – it’s a designed to be a starting point, collated from a range of recommendations and signposts. The idea is that it will help you on your educational and curious investigations into the issues surrounding prejudice, hate, discrimination, allyship, implications on and impact of workplace cultures, and in overcoming personal barriers to having difficult conversations. The disclaimer here is as expected – I haven’t read, watched or listened to everything on this list; there’s been an overwhelming amount of contribution and I’m getting through some of these materials myself.

If you’d like to populate your own search histories and curate your own learning experiences, I can point you in these directions… with special thanks to those who contributed! As you collect your own resources, support those content creators, educators, causes, and charities that you come across, in a way that you are able. Elevate their voices; like, subscribe and share their content; work, collaborate or volunteer with them; donate and/or buy from them where you are able.

Allyship, not saviourship

My YouTube Playlist on Allyship, not Saviourship

BLOG POST: So You Want To Be an Ally to Black People? Let’s Talk About It

BLOG POST: My white friend asked my opinion on white privilege

BLOG POST: 100 Ways White People Can Make Life Less Frustrating For People of Color

RESOURCE: The Guide To Allyship is an open source guide if you wanted to contribute.

 

Performative allyship and tokenism

My YouTube Playlist on Performative Allyship and Tokenism

ARTICLE: Tokenism: The Result of Diversity Without Inclusion‘ in Medium.

ARTICLE: ‘How to Avoid Inspiration Porn’ in Forbes

Exploring Privilege

My YouTube Playlist for Exploring Privilege

ARTICLE: Teaching Tolerance has a magazine feature on “What is White Privilege, Really?”

 

Stories and Experiences

My YouTube playlist for Stories and Experiences

MOVEMENT: If you ever get the chance to attend or run a Human Library event – do it! The training I got to facilitate these events was the very start of my own journey.

BLOG: My own mental health advocacy blog: Ambitious With Anxiety

FILM: The Danish Girl (2015) is loosely inspired by real life experiences of a transgender pioneer

 

Understanding Intersectionality

My YouTube Playlist for Understanding Intersectionality

POST: ‘Yellow Fever: cure needed, say Asian victims of sex prejudice’ in This Week in Asia explores the colonialist roots of the fetishisation and exotification of Asian females.

Understanding prejudice

My YouTube Playlist for Understanding Prejudice

POST: Psychology Today explores this in their article, “Understanding Prejudice, Stereotypes, and Racism.”

ARTICLE: ‘‘They never go off the rails like other ethnic groups’: teachers’ constructions of British Chinese pupils’ gender identities and approaches to learning” (Louise Archer and Becky Francis, 2005)

FILM: Whatever your thoughts are on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther (2018) grapples on so many themes around race, identity and the impact of slavery and colonisation. The Take does a rather good exploration of the symbolism in this film.

 

Myth-busting and further learning

My YouTube Playlist on Mythbusting and further learning

BOOKS: My GoodReads Allyship Resources Bookshelf

PODCAST PLAYLIST: Here is a Spotify playlist that I’ve put together of episodes that I think you might find helpful. This a list of individual episodes, rather than podcasts to follow – so again, just a starting point – if there is an episode that fits with you, give them a follow!

POST: More resources and recommendations by Cultura Obscura

POST: Complex has compiled a list of “The Best Social Justice Movies and Documentaries”

POST: Online Universities.com also have a list of “Fantastic Films for Teaching Social Justice”

POST: Mental Health Foundation: The mental health of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities

Finally, if you want to continue having the conversation, you can follow me on social media platforms or drop me an email if you want to join my allyship network and/or arrange a call on how I might be able to help promote and ingrain allyship into your personal or professional lives.

And if you are so inclined and would like to share a token of your appreciation, you could always…

Buy Me A Coffee

Good luck with your own education and actions

Lou

 

Making Sense of Allyship

The concept of allyship is on lots of people’s minds right now. At my most optimistic, the focus on community during the global lockdown and the demand for proactive allyship, in the face of, what I hope is, the death rattle of prejudice, brings me the belief that we’re heading in the right direction.

However, I understand that there are those of you who want to find out more about how to be an effective ally, without making the issues around race, gender, sexuality, disability, class or age about you. Having spent months talking and writing about the increased racism that I and other East Asians across the world have experienced due to fears and views of Covid-19, I acknowledge that I am privileged as British Born Chinese woman that I do not face the same level of aggression or fear that my Black peers face. As a heterosexual, cis-female, I have the privilege of people not calling to question those parts of my identity.

It’s OK that we are privileged; what are we going to do with it?

These events are in response to the demand of more people wanting to address and use their privilege to help others. I understand that this can be a huge reality and identity shift, so in order to do my part, if you want to have a conversation about what it means to be an ally, I’d be happy to help.

This is open to 100 people per session because Zoom says so. My intention here is not to preach or educate but to give people a space to explore and reflect on what kind of ally they want to be. I am not going to pretend to be an expert or that I know what it’s like to be anyone other than myself, a British-born Chinese, heterosexual woman from a working class background, with a history of poor mental health. I am, however, going to do my best to facilitate a curious, compassionate and courageous conversation for anyone who wants to explore this with me. Where possible, I will bring in voices other than mine.

I am volunteering my time and services for these events – because I feel like this is the right thing to do. My intention is to just run these three sessions – I have no idea how much these will take out of me or what the response will be like. We’ll see what happens! In case you’d like to know how the sessions might operate, have a look at the below PDFs – the second is in monochrome for those of you with visual impairments.

Admission is free, providing you have completed the registration form. The data I collect here is purely to manage numbers and safety of all participants – they will not go into any kind of mailing list. If you want to support me, then your attendance and future action is enough. I can promise you that there’s no sales pitch at any point. If you want to do your bit to make the world a safer place for more people, then that’s plenty for me right now.

Thanks for reading this and hope we’ll speak soon.

Lou