Guidance Note: Being a Better Ally

Following a very productive webinar on race and allyship, the Humanitarian Women’s Network (HWN) has put together this Guidance Note to help our members navigate this tricky world we live in — and to provide the best support to each other. Some of this information arose from our discussion and some from the research we conducted thereafter. It was apparent from our meeting and the reactions that have followed, that we will have a follow-up webinar to explore how we can collectively do better. Next Webinar is slated for Sunday, 06th September 2020.

The Baseline

It’s critical that in order to discuss the merits of an issue, we have to start from a shared set of facts. To open our webinar, we first asked ourselves, How Did We Get Here? Here you will find a presentation that gives an overview of the Black Lives Matter movement and the global policies that have taken place since 1502 that resulted in the 60 days of protest we’re seeing today.

The Issues

A number of recurring issues were raised in our discussion, such as:

Q: Is aid work modern-day colonialism? Can we still be aid workers without contributing to structural racism?

A: This is a TOUGH one. The short answer is most participants of the webinar think that the aid system and colonialism are too intertwined. Ultimately, there was no resolution on this. However, WE are in a position to decide to do aid differently so WHY DON’T WE? If you would like to participate in an HWN localization action group, DM our Admin.

Q: Is listening enough? Or do I need to speak out in support of the equal treatment of black people?

A: It is incumbent upon all of us to SAY SOMETHING and then to DO SOMETHING. Here is a great article on WHAT TO SAY and here is one on WHAT NOT TO SAY/DO.

Q: Is being colorblind enough?

A: Here’s a great article to explain the shortcomings of colorblindness; and here is one that looks at the academic research on colorblindness as an ideology.

Q: Racism has shape-shifted over the past 500 years: what does it look like today?

A: It looks like walking into a room and being the only black person in it; it looks like skin whitening creams; it looks like being followed in a store or being called aggressive. It looks like a litany of micro and macro aggressions that we hope to parse out. Join our Book Club as we read White Fragility to explore this issue and more.

Q: In Cancel Culture, how do I even begin a discussion on race without saying something offensive?

A: You can’t. Race is a minefield but imagine how it is for the people living under its thumb? Make mistakes, get out of your comfort zone, dive into the messy miasma. And if you want a place to start, join us at our next webinar.

What we can do Next:

  1. Listen to our Sunday, 19th July 2020 webinar here (DM Admin for PW) where we offer tips on approaching tricky issues with some entry points for discussion.
  2. Join the HWN book club as we read White Fragility; this will be the topic for our August webinar.
  3. Join us for our next webinar, Sunday, 06th September 2020, when we’ll discuss White Fragility.
  4. Check out these resources so you can learn more about where we are and how we got here:

~ Books

~ Podcasts

Team at Humanitarian Women’s Network