The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The following information is adapted from Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice edited by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin (Routledge Press, 1997).
An ally is typically a member of advantaged social groups who uses social power to take a stand against social injustice directed at oppressed groups (e.g., Whites who speak out against racism, men who are anti-sexist). An ally works to be an agent of social change rather than an agent of oppression.
An ally feels good about his/her own social group membership and is comfortable and proud of his/her own identity. An ally takes responsibility for learning about their history and the history and cultural experiences of oppressed groups. Allies fiercely advocate for the equal rights and protections of all persons. They are not only interested in understanding how institutionalized oppression and discrimination is codified, implemented, distributed, reinforced, and circulated; but are also radically engaged in eradicating these practices in society and culture. Allies are engaged listeners and respecters of human difference. They acknowledge the unearned privileges they receive as a result of their social status, and work to eliminate or change those unearned privileges into rights that oppressed members can also enjoy. Allies recognize that unlearning oppressive beliefs and action is a life-long process, not a single event, and they welcome each learning opportunity. They are risk takers-- willing to try new behaviors; and, are wholly committed to taking action, in spite of their own fears and resistance from other advantaged group members, to fight against social injustices in their sphere of influence. They are willing to make mistakes, learn from them, and try again. Lastly, allies understand the connection among all forms of social injustice and they work to speak out against social injustice in their daily lives.
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