Ways to be a better ally

Mental Health

Are you a non-black person unsure of how best to support the anti-racist movement? Here are some ways you can help

There has been an outpouring of support for black lives in the last week and, in this moment of crisis, it’s an amazing and important thing that we are fired up and ready to show our support.

But we know that this show of online activism is not the extent of the support we can provide. And, at the risk of this moment in history becoming another opportunity for virtue signalling, we really must do more.

The words are ringing in my ears; ‘Not being racist is not enough’. Being an ally isn’t passive, it requires action and it isn’t about being comfortable. To be real allies, we need to challenge ourselves, our behaviours, and the behaviour of those around us.

If you’re ready to make change – now and long after this media storm – here are some ways to help you do that.

Understand what it means to be an ally

Ally (noun)

1) a country that has agreed officially to give help and support to another one, especially during a war

2) someone who helps and supports someone else

Of course, we must show our support to our friends on the other side of the Atlantic. But, we need to remember that although the fire is strong in America right now, racism isn’t just another country’s problem. There’s a crisis in the UK, too. And allyship can start at home.

“Saying you’re an ally is much easier than actually being an ally. Saying you’re an ally looks good on paper, if you’re never taken to task for doing nothing.”

If you have friends or loved ones that are black, check-in with them. This is an emotional time, so find out how you can best provide support. Encourage them to practice self-care and be there for them.

Listen and learn

Listen and listen good. Listen, without asking questions. If you need some inspirational accounts to follow right now, here the influencers, authors, and public speakers who are helping us to learn.

But don’t ask minority groups to educate you – your education is not someone else’s burden. Learning about discrimination and racial injustice is hard, but it has to be a self-education.

When you learn something from a book, article, podcast, film, or TV programme, share it in the hope that it can help others to understand. But remember, whilst these are important and helpful steps, this is not the extent of allyship.

Speak out

Raise your voice about things that don’t feel right. Call out your friends, family or colleagues when they say something racist and don’t make excuses that people are too old or young to learn – we all have the capacity to learn and change.

Use your voice and your platforms to reach people and share what you have learned. Regardless of how large or small your circle is, understand that your voice can travel to places that others’ can’t.

Don’t be afraid to get things wrong. If it’s a choice between not speaking up at all or speaking out and getting it wrong, get it wrong. Get it wrong, learn from it, share what you’ve learnt and do better next time.

Be prepared to do the work

If you’re able to put your money where your mouth is, donate to racial justice funds and anti-racism charities like the UKBLM Fund, Resourcing Racial Justice, Black Minds Matter UK or the Minnesota Freedom Fund. Or find other causes that are doing work you want to support.

Sign petitions. All Black Lives Matter petitions can be found on their website, or you can sign your name for Justice for George Floyd or call for the suspension of exports of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields to America.

By all means, diversify your social feed and your bookshelf, sign a petition, make a donation, but also think bigger than that. Look for ways to turn these singular actions in a moment of crisis into ongoing habits that can continue to make change.

Turn a donation into a subscription or commit your time to an organisation that is doing the work. Hold brands accountable for the promises they are making in the wake of this crisis and speak with your money. Support black-owned businesses and brands that are in this for the long haul.

Write to your MP and demand the immediate suspension of UK sales of teargas, riot shields and rubber bullets to the US. Demand that they condemn President Trump’s use of force against his own citizens. Demand the release of the delayed report into BAME Covid deaths.

Then, whenever the next election rolls around, use your personal power to put a cross in the box of the person that will be the best ally on a political stage.

Put courage before convenience

If you’re feeling fired-up about the injustices of our world right now, let this be the motivation to continue to fight – long after the media’s focus has moved on. After this initial wave of motivation fades, what will be required is the consistent application of courage, by many people, for many months.

In this video, Chartered Psychologist Kimberley Wilson implores us to continue to be courageous, because it’s about time that we took an opportunity to make real change – to change history.

We have to keep holding ourselves and our communities accountable. We have to keep repeating these actions, continuing to do the work required.


Please know that this is not an exhaustive list – there is not a simple tick-list we can use to combat racism.

There are so many ways that you can commit to change and show your allyship. The tips found here are simply the tip of the iceberg. Use your passion to do your own research and do the things that light a fire inside you.


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