What does it mean to be an Ally? Community members explain

Together We Rise

Support for the black community is also extending into “allyship.”
Taking on other people’s struggles as your own, and transferring your privilege to those who don’t have it.

Community members say ally-ship is a start, but it’s not the end goal.

An online guide to allyship reads allies recognize that though they’re not a member of the underinvested or oppressed communities.
They support and make a concerted effort to better understand the struggle.

An ally, by definition, means to unite formally or enter into an alliance for a collective cause.

Ryan Hidden, Executive Director Change of Peoria said, “My mindset is like, how can I be a better brother to my brothers and sisters. How can I be a better friend? How can I use my skills, talents, knowledge, and privilege, to prevent harm and repair past harms? Because it’s about being interconnected.”

Hidden, A grassroots political organization aims to ensure inclusivity, Justice, and equitable policies in the local community. He says being an ally is just a step in the right direction.

“You shouldn’t have to be like, hmm, do I want to be an ally or I don’t want to be an ally?” Hidden said. “It should just be automatic, but unfortunately, it’s not. Even though it’s a pretty low bar, it does begin to help alleviate some of the harms to black people. We just need to go further. I mean, I would rather have people be allies than not, but still… It’s not enough.”

Bloomington-Normal’s not in our town, A citizen initiative aspires to stop the hate and build a strong inclusive community.

“We have held numerous marches. We’ve held educational forums. We try to create a space where people can come together, sometimes tackle hard issues, have difficult conversations, and at the same time… Show our mutual support for each other,” Mike Matejka, Chair of Not in our Town Bloomington-Normal.

Matejka saying… “It’s each and every person’s responsibility to educate and have tough uncomfortable conversations.”

“Look in the mirror and say, ‘look, I probably have… I have benefitted in life because of the color of my skin. Now, how do I ensure that is not a standard that is still operative in our society?'” Matejka said.

Both Matejka and hidden said allies must work each day to make a conscious effort to be aware of implicit bias. Each saying, Central Illinois has room for improvement.

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