Listen to members of marginalized
groups and to others speaking in
Believe their experiences and the
reasons they attribute to them, rather
than saying, “well maybe it wasn’t because of your race.” It’s easy to rationalize hurtful behavior, but doing so
doesn’t help the impacted individual
in the moment.
Empathy, not sympathy. Members of
marginalized groups don’t need our
pity or our grief. They need us to do
our best to understand where they are
coming from and to support them.
Learn about ally behaviors, because
being an ally for disadvantaged
groups is a constant learning process.
These behaviors aren’t static, nor are
Speak when and where appropriate.
It is important to act where we can,
and part of that action is speaking out
when we see troubling behavior. But
it is also important that we do not
drown out the voices we’re trying
to support. This is part of building
Take responsibility for privilege. While
we can engage in ally behaviors in all
aspects of our lives, our responsibility
increases when dealing with members
of our own dominant groups.
Take responsibility for failures. Trying
to behave as an ally is hard, and we will
inevitably fail at times. When someone
points out your own problematic behavior, be humble, receptive, and thoughtful. Accepting responsibility, apologizing, and correcting your behavior goes
a long way.
This is not about you. Being an ally is
supporting the marginalized groups you
are working to support. If you engage
in ally behavior to look good or to get
credit or accolades, you’re doing it for
the wrong reasons.
It’s okay to enjoy problematic media, as
long as you engage with it. It’s okay to
enjoy movies or music with troubling aspects—such as caricatures of particular
groups, inappropriate jokes, or stereotyping—but be aware of those troubling
aspects and view them with a critical eye.
You might also talk about these troubling
aspects with others so that they can engage critically as well. NWL
The Movement for Black Lives
How to Confront Sexism at
Five Tips for Being an Ally
WSBA Diversity and Inclusion
Program can provide training
on what ally behavior looks like,
along with a variety of other
diversity training. More infor-
mation is available to www.wsba.
org/about-wsba/diversity or by
contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. PHIL BRADY works for the Washington State Department of Financial
Institutions. He just finished a three-year term on the Board of Gover-
nors, representing the 10th Congressional District. He can be reached
1. In general, when I refer to dominant power
group I’m referring to groups that have historically been favored or more powerful than
other groups. This includes, among many
others: men, people of European descent,
wealthy people, cis-gendered, and heterosexual individuals. Membership in one
dominant power group does not preclude
membership in disadvantaged groups—in
fact, most of us are members of both kinds
2. Mr. Porter is a Ph.D. candidate in the Human
Centered Design & Engineering program at
the University of Washington, and an advocate
for people with disabilities. You can find more
information about him here: www.jrp3.com.
3. For a fascinating article on how women in
the Obama White House used a strategy
they called “amplification” to empower each
other, see www.washingtonpost.com/news/