Every group that struggles for greater voice, rights, and fairness welcomes and draws strength from “allies,” people who are not a member of that group yet stand up for or work (mostly) behind the scenes to further the cause. It’s an important role, and one that can be very satisfying, but it’s also an unusual position as allies don’t typically lead. The stories of being silenced or suffering injustices is not theirs to tell. It also contains many challenges. In some ways, being an ally is fun, as activism on issues often garners praise and camaraderie, but it is also full of pitfalls. Are we making this cause “about me”? Am I wearing my role as a badge of honor? Or are we truly in the trenches, willing to be in the background, to be taught and changed by the stories we will learn? Being an ally also carries great responsibilities to be well-informed, well-spoken, and patient as we teach and inform. Allies must know their facts and understand a group’s larger goals. Allies also generally enjoy a “privilege” not shared by members of the group they are working alongside —being straight, white, able-bodied, healthy in body and mind, economically advantaged, etc.—generally unearned and so often unrecognized. How can allies come to understand their privilege and to use it in helpful ways?
In this episode, three people who work as allies—Jody England Hansen, Jerilyn Hassel Pool, and Mark Barnes—join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon for a discussion of this role (even perhaps “calling”) of being an ally. What have they learned on their journeys as allies for various causes? What have been the most gratifying things? The toughest?
Please listen to the episode and then ask questions or share your own experiences being an ally!
“Male Allies,” Conversation Seven, Ordain Women
Ordain Women–Male Ally Conversation, video of a Google Hangout conversation (hosted by Mark Barnes)
Fatima Salleh, Keynote Address at Sunstone Symposium “Theology From the Margins,” 14 March 2015