If you’re not aware, I’m on the Tok sharing heaps of content for Aussies who want to be good allies of Aboriginal People. Here’s one TikTok I shared recently that covered 4 common mistakes by allies of Aboriginal people. While the video points out the 4 mistakes quite clearly, I wanted to expand on each point here in this blog.
Ally mistake 1- Not working on or unpacking bias and privilege
You might hear people saying they are an ally to Aboriginal people. In reality, what does that actually mean? Allyship is not a title that can be worn like a badge of honour. Allyship is a verb. It’s an action based word which starts with what Aboriginal people often call “the work”.
When a person commits themselves to go within and unpack their biases not only around race but also colourism, classism, elitism, and educationalism, to name a few, that’s part of doing the work. Another part is realistically checking themselves and the privilege they hold.
Understanding the structure and constructs of your conscious and unconscious beliefs system will aid in your understanding of how they are man-made social constructs that’ve been used to benefits some and not others.
Knowing you privilege and how you fit into the privilege system will help to inform you on the places you hold power and influence. It spells out that spaces you have potential to create positive change as well as the spaces where you need to listen deeply to Aboriginal people. This segue into ally mistake number 2.
Ally mistake 2- Not listening and learning from Aboriginal People
There are people who believe they are allies of Aboriginal people yet they don’t stop to listen or learn from Aboriginal people. They often let their empathy lead the way and allow their own inner monologue to guide their actions based on what they would like if they were in the shoes of an Aboriginal person. This is a flawed process.
If you’ve followed my work for a while, you’d know that listening to and learning from Aboriginal people are key components of my allyship framework I teach my clients.
Without listening to Aboriginal peoples experiences, philosophies, kinships, culture, wants, needs and desires, you cannot be an ally.
Allyship must be lead by the group of people you are allying.
Without it, you’re behaving in the same way a coloniser does by thinking you know better.
Ally mistake 3- Thinking they have the solutions to Aboriginal issues
Sure, allies can be super intelligent but no amount of intellectual ability (based on the oppressors version of intelligence mind you) will ever equate to the in-depth and multi-dimensional knowledge, intelligence and wisdom that lived experience gives. A person who does not have the lived experiences of an Aboriginal person cannot comprehend the complexities of what the Aboriginal life experience is or how it impacts every facet of life. Have you ever wondered why so much taxpayer money is wasted on Aboriginal-centered projects and they fail? It’s because non-Aboriginal people believe they have the solutions to Aboriginal problems. For example, yes, they may be an expert architect, but they aren’t experts at designing buildings suitable or functional for Aboriginal people, culture, sociology and family structures.
Ally mistake 4- Not understanding how they participate in the oppressive Australian system
Last but not least, if a person doesn’t understand how they are participating within the oppressive Australian system, how do they know if they, themselves, are perpetuating the oppression of Aboriginal people or not? Knowing the actions and behaviours that support the continuance of oppressive social systems and institutions gives you the power to to choose how or if you continue to participate. The slight altercation behaviour can be the catalyst for massive positive change within that space. With this knowledge, the possibilities are endless with the type or world we can create.
These are just four of the common mistakes that allies make. I share so much about allyship on my socials so come connect with me there. And if you’re an entrepreneur who wants guidance from an Aboriginal person to create a concrete personalised allyship plan, I have a 4-week coaching program that’ll give you the framework of good allyship, and how you and your business fit into the ally conversation. It’s time to let go of the confusion and frustration about allyship and take some clear positive action that resonates with you. Book a free clarity call with me to find out more about the 1:1 program here.
Until next time I send strength to you in your allyship journey.