We hear the word “ally” used a lot these days.
Whether we are talking about the Black Lives Matter movement or LGBTQ rights, people who are not Black or LGBTQ often refer to themselves as “allies”. I myself have used this term many times.
I recently interviewed Dr. Janette Habashi from Darzah and Child’s Cup Full on our podcast to talk about the issues facing women in Palestine. At one point in the interview, she made the statement “I need you to be in solidarity. Ally is not enough for me…You have to be in solidarity. Solidarity requires an action.” This really struck a chord with me. I wanted to understand these two terms more.
In researching the difference between allyship and solidarity, I came across an article by Jaime Grant of The Body Is Not An Apology called “9 Reasons Why Acting in Solidarity for Racial Justice Is Preferable to “Allyship”” in which she lists 9 differences between the two. As I read Jamie’s article and looked at some other perspectives, I’ve come to understand this as the difference – allyship is mostly performative and sympathetic, whereas solidarity believes that our wellbeing is intertwined and is rooted in empathy.
You will make changes when you believe it to be to your benefit.
What if you fundamentally believed that the wellbeing of others had a direct impact on your own?
One of my own personal soapboxes is this idea that the whole world benefits when we empower others out of poverty. How does your life benefit from a woman in Nigeria escaping poverty? What if she or one of the children she has and nurtures becomes the doctor who finds a cure for a cancer that you or a loved one will one day develop? What if she or one of her children becomes a major leader in the fight to end our dependence on fossil fuels? What if she or one of her children writes a book that fundamentally changes your life?
When we believe that her wellbeing is entirely interwoven with our own, we will look at her and her success differently. We will be more willing to make sacrifices for her betterment. We will be more willing to get our hands dirty in the fight against injustice. We will not be allies; we will be in solidarity.
How can you make one change today to be in solidarity with an oppressed and vulnerable population?