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Ally is a Verb not a Noun

May 31, 2020


The United States is seeing rioting and protest at what appears to be an unprecedented scale, with reporters being arrested and blinded whilst being filmed by the US police force whilst bearing witness1  to the actions arising from the lack of justice for Black Americans.  This racism is not new but to the privileged has never been so blatant as with the 9-minute video of George Floyd dying under the knee of a nonchalant white officer with history of racial abuse2.  This is just the latest atrocity.  Indigenous peoples are having their lands further stripped whilst they receive little or no care from the government charged with protecting them3, women are having their reproductive rights stripped away4, transgender people at the highest risk of being victims of violent crime especially if they are of colour5, poverty is endemic and increasing6; I’ll stop there.

The UK too is in crisis.  Brexit7, the coronavirus pandemic8, the police are acting with ever increasing force with authorities having learned nothing since our riots in 2011 about the systemic racism within the institution9, Windrush is deporting myriad black people and disenfranchising those not yet deported who have a legal right to stay here10, Grenfell Tower burned and those who didn’t die have yet to be rehomed11 (absolutely would not happen in a richer, whiter neighbourhood), and in many other ways we reflect what is happening in the United States.  It feels like something must give and soon.

I am white (and having traced my family history I am so Anglo-Saxon it hurts).  I am cisgender.  I am in a straight relationship and have identified as heterosexual throughout my life.  The assumption I am straight was right in my case.  Most of the time I present as able-bodied although am not.  I have been educated to degree level.  I have the right accent.  I’m laden with privilege.  I am furious.

So, what can I do?  I’ve written about being an ally before, and my view has updated.  I called myself an ally and that was a privileged thing to do.  To those with privilege over the group requiring supporting and uplifting ally must only be a verb, never a noun.  It is a name to be given not taken.

Now more than ever it is important to be an ally.  Black people are being murdered on the streets by the authorities, not just murdered by the impact of greater poverty caused by the systemic racism inherent in our societies.  Women are being killed in domestic violence incidences at a higher rate since the epidemic began because of lockdown and isolation12, not just because women are property and it’s a family dispute and there are no resources to get away even if society hadn’t decided they were to be economically tied to the breadwinning penis-owner of their household.  Disabled people are a forgotten people, or so it feels, yet are statistically more likely to suffer domestic abuse13 and poverty14.

If you are reading this and are completely unable to relate to what I have written, then congratulations!  You are stock full of privilege!  Now examine that privilege.  Don’t just say you agree with equality of opportunity, with caring for the least healthy and most vulnerable members of society, and with loving thy neighbourhood if you don’t back it up with action.

I’m disabled, my activism is mostly armchair based because it’s all I can do.  But I still strive to do because being an ally is active, not passive. Do the work, do the research, don’t expect to be taught. It is not the job of the oppressed to be proving the point.  It is for the privileged to empathise, understand, listen, learn, and act.

Ally is a verb, not a noun.  Remember that.





  2. USA –

UK –

  1. UK –

US –

  1. The simplest explanation –
  3. 1998-2010

2018 article




From → Ideology, political

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