10 Tips for Showing Up in Solidarity

As human rights activists working in solidarity with marginalized communities, it is vitally important to show up in a respectful and responsible way. This resource is primarily made for allies who do not self-identify as Muslim, Arab, South West Asian or North African.

  1. Center the leadership, stories and voices of the affected community. Connect with community leaders and organizers. The role of allies is to build space, amplify the community’s voice and show up responsibly to their spaces.

Our job as Allies is to elevate the community’s call to action, their stories, and make it easier for communities under attack to do the work they need to do.

2. Recognize and be mindful of the cultural context and space that you occupy.

Being a responsible Ally means doing your cultural homework but don’t assume that the same standards apply everywhere. People practice individuality always, so if you don’t know; ask questions but ask folks who you feel comfortable with and have an established relationship with. Be aware of the cultural norms of the community you are working in solidarity with. For instance, personal space is culturally relative. Not everyone will be comfortable shaking your hand, or being asked direct questions.

3. Don’t co-opt religious/cultural symbols and garments regardless of your intentions.

Appropriation is not solidarity work.

4. Reach out to local Muslim and Arab community organizers to find out how you can show up as an Ally.

Solidarity work can be acts like carrying water, working security, answering phones, washing dishes and serving food. All movement work is important work.

5. Be aware of how much space you are taking up and more importantly when to step back. Practice self awareness and mindfulness.

When in doubt; listen then offer. If you do not self identify with the impact community be aware that you are a guest in that space. As a good guest you do not want to overstay your welcome or dominate the space.

6. Never photograph anyone without their expressed permission and consent.

Muslim and Arab communities are being surveilled under the Countering Violent Extremism program. Don’t compound their collective trauma by violating their privacy or space.

7. When invited to a cultural, community or religious space always show up with an offering. Never show up empty handed.

Offerings can be material support, physical or emotional labor. Let the community know what skill you bring to the table.

8. Match your intention with your impact.

Mosques are places of worship and maybe the community doesn’t want attention drawn to them. Don’t hold a protest outside of a mosque or other community gathering place without the invitation of the community.

9. Allyship is a dynamic process.

You may commit an unintentional micro-aggression, and be called out/in. The important thing is to be accountable to your actions and learn from your mistakes. That means listening and taking responsibility for impact. Discomfort is an important part of growth.

10. Saviors are not needed, solidarity is.

Saving people deprives their agency or ability to make change. Being an ally means creating the space and providing resources to a community under attack to make the change they need.

Thank you to our partners CAIR- California and the Islamic Center at NYU (ICNYU)!