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What it Means to Be an Ally

Our GSA was educated on what it meant to be an ally on 12/9/11 by Alison, a representative from True Colors

Milo Stein

on 20 December 2011

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Transcript of What it Means to Be an Ally

What makes an Ally? First: What makes you You? Imagine you go to the perfect school. No bullies, no teasing, everyone is different: but somehow, everyone gets along. The reason they all get along is because there is something for everyone, be it an activity, a club, or whatever else they can think of. And whenever the school does something, they consider the needs of everyone.

But how can they do it? How do they keep track of everyone?

Simple. On your first day of Freshman year you fill out a little passport. Sex, age, gender identity, disabilities, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, language spoken at home, religion, and a little box left for whatever else may make you who you are are included on this passport. Whenever important decisions are made, the school considers every factor listed. But things aren't how they used to be.

There are more students at the school than ever, and budget cuts are being made left and right: including the passport program.
At first they try to cut as little as possible, but as time goes by more and more factors have to be eliminated.

This was supposed to make things easier for the administration, but the parts of the passport that were cut are slowly becoming taboo, even illegal, to speak about at all. This "Perfect School" is a metaphor. It's how our lives have all become.
It's true: we live in a world that doesn't take into account what your differences may be. But what were some of the things you might have written? What about potential disabilities? Or the language barrier, or your faith?

There are many things that make us who we are, and no one wants to give those things up.

An un-official list of what makes us Us: AGE- being 16 is a whole lot different from being 60. Prejudice against people of a certain age is called ageism. SEX- the physical sex you were born with. Prejudice against a certain sex is sexism. GENDER IDENTITY- Many people express a gender that is different or modified from their phsyical sex. GENDER VARIANTS include transgenders, genderqueers, and people who are two-spirited. A person whose gender expression and physical sex are the same is called cisgender. Prejudice based on gender expression is called transphobia. CLASS- how much money a family has. This can mean any number of things: assets, businesses, savings, and income, just to name a few. For teenagers class can be represented as transportation, because how they get to and from places is often based on how much money their family can afford to spend. Prejudice against people of a certain class is called classism. RACE- in America, there are six different races recognized by the government: White, African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, or "Other". This is a flawed system, to be sure, but nevertheless it is the definition of race in the United States. Predjudice by race is called racism. ETHNICITY- more specific than race, this is the country someone (or their family) is from. Prejudice against another ethnicity is xenophobia. SEXUAL ORIENTATION- the gender or sex someone is romantically attracted to. Those who are attracted to the opposite sex or gender are heterosexual, and those who are attracted to the same sex or gender are homosexual. There are a wide range of terms in between, such as bisexual and pansexual, and there are even those who are not romantically or sexually attracted to anyone, and this is called asexual. Prejucices against people of different sexual orientations are usually lumped into two terms: homophobia and heterophobia. RELIGION- the faith someone practices or observes, if they observe one at all. Prejudice against someone of a different faith is called faithism. Each of these things makes us who we are. As humans we tend to think that just because we share the same trait with some people, we should immediately be friends with them.

But there are so many traits to consider, so many other factors that make up a person! A few more definitions first: Privileged Words associated with privilege are words like influential, lucky, well off, and special

Someone who is privileged has the power to sway an argument in their favor. Oppression Oppression is characterized by unfairness, separation, and control

Oppression is the privileged using their power to keep those not privileged from gaining anything. The Privilege Ladder: White, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Christian,
aged 25-50, western European, upper class Everybody else An Ally Someone who uses their privilege to help those who are oppressed. Being gay does not make me an ally to all who are gay.

Being black does not make me an ally to all who are black.
Being an ally is about using your own abilities to help others, whether or not they share the same oppressions. It's about closing the gaps between the rungs on the ladder of the oppressed.
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