Do Your Friends Need a Serious Ally Tuneup?
One of the things that gets me through rough days (weeks and months) is supportive friends. Knowing that I have people to reach out to is essential. Just last week I was reminded of how important it is to have people who support me.
Last week I left a job interview that had been ripe with casual racism. The type where nothing is overt, but everyone is aware of what is happening. I told myself it was fine; I didn’t really want the job. After leaving the office I headed back to work. While in transit I had time to reflect on what had just happened. It was a combination of angry and embarrassed and hurt. As I sat with those feelings a couple of messages popped up on my phone from friends who knew I’d had the interview. I sent out two different responses to the message. One of the responses told friends that the interview had gone fine, but I wasn’t really interested in the position. The other response detailed the situation I had faced and how upset I was leaving the interview. I was very intentional with who received which message. Some of my friends can handle these moments and offer the needed support. Others, not so much.
I didn’t put a lot of thought into it until later that evening when reviewing the messages from friends. I noticed the friends I didn’t even consider broaching the topic of racism around. These friends were all white. I took note of the friends who I opened up to and their varied responses. My other friends who identify as P.O.C. expressed a range of feelings similar to my own. I had white friends who reacted similarly, offering support or apologies. I had one or two who just trailed off or asked questions to make sure I wasn’t overreacting. For the most part I didn’t respond to those friends. I felt disappointed that they didn’t see this moment as a need for support and allyship. I faced similar situations around my queerness and how my straight friends handled the discrimination I faced. I realized that having friends, who are also allies, is important to me. Cultivating and nurturing relationships where I can be my most vulnerable, and be loved and supported takes time and effort. It’s worth it to have the best people in my corner. Here are some helpful tips if your friends need an ally tune-up.
- Send some articles to a friend who could stand to strengthen their ally game. This is fairly non-confrontational. You can tell your friend in person that you want to send them some articles to check out and maybe talk about what allyship looks like. You could also opt to send the articles via text or email with a little blurb about why you’re sending the articles along. I don’t recommend just posting an article on social media and hoping the person reads it and gets it. This may fail because A) the person may not read it and B) this is pretty passive aggressive and it may cause further problems. I tried this once and things did not get better.
- In a private setting tell the friend how you are feeling. Help them understand from a purely personal point of view why you need them as an ally. Maybe they don’t understand what you’re going through. If they aren’t apart of that specific community, they truly may not understand your struggle. They also may not understand how tiring it can be to face the same issues over and over again. Allyship is built on empathy.
- Ask yourself how important the friendship is to you and whether or not this person can be an ally. Maybe you're ok with having friends who don't get it or won't have your back (and that's ok)! If you're ok with keeping things light with this person, then let it be. However, if you need friends who will support you and stand up for you, be intentional with your friendships. Some people might make better acquaintances. These are people you can catch up with at a party or an outing, but maybe not the people you turn to when things get rough.
Navigating these relationships with friends can be difficult. Anytime we reach out to other people as a result of dealing with a tough situation asks us to show a great deal of vulnerability. Being vulnerable can be just as difficult as sitting through a tough situation. You get to choose who you share your vulnerability with. Just like you get to choose who you share your good moments with. For what it’s worth, I believe that anyone who is a close friend should be an ally to us, and we should show them the same support.
If you are looking for some good articles to send to friends, hit me up on IG: @ephiphsfromtiff! I’m happy to share some links. Also, if you’ve come across some good articles that can make for better allies leave links in the comments!