Allies – What does being an ally actually mean?
One of the editors of this book, Dana Alison Levy, sums it up in two words – it’s complicated.
Every person you meet, every friendship group you’re a part of, every classroom, noisy dinner hall or workplace you enter is filled with those from communities who need supportive allies – whether you realise it or not. Maybe you do too but your voice goes unheard?
We all have our own life experiences that mould us into who we are, how we interact with others and the friendships we make, so, what can you do? What can you say to support those around you?
You may consider this just another anthology but it’s not. It’s way more than that. This collection of life stories from seventeen YA authors creates a much-needed insight into what life is like for many who are at the sharp end of discrimination and prejudiced by wider society. Stories of courage and bravery unfold as they reveal a snapshot of their lives – from trying to be recognised as so much more than a person in a wheelchair to standing up and supporting those being racially abused, and many more.
When you open this book, a welcome warning is in place for those who may have experienced similar situations in the chapters to follow or perhaps know people they care about who can relate to the stories shared and in chapter one, Dana Alison Levy asks the reader to consider how they see others. With racism, ableism, transphobia and privilege, to name a few, out there for the world to see, some choose to ignore it all because it doesn’t affect them or their way of life. With generous links to websites, word swaps, self-reflection prompts, anti-racism advice, podcasts and author recommendations, I like to think this book may change their minds.
As suggested, and a fact I strongly agree with, it is not the job of a transgender person or autistic person or gay person to educate you in the way of their world. Aim, to the best of your abilities, to keep yourself informed and have conversations with those who need your support. Listen to them, read and buy books written by them, follow them on social media and interact with their posts, or ask your library for information – there’s always more to learn and advice to take on board. As part of my own research, I spoke with allies I know and I couldn’t agree more with YA author, Patrice Lawrence, when she said “…there’s so much onus on being dignified and reasonable about challenging inequality but people shouldn’t have to be brave just for trying to live their best lives…”
I admit to not getting it right all the time but I strive to do my best. In my opinion, allyship comes in many forms and this amazing book is just the start of a journey that may help you. For some, reading a book like this is a box-ticking exercise, they should perhaps consider the situations and predicaments shared, and contemplate the things they can do better.
Thank you to I.W Gregorio, Dana Alison Levy, Sharan Dhaliwal, Marietta B. Zacker, Lizzie Huxley-Jones, Naomi Evans, Natalie Evans, Cam Montgomery, Kayla Whaley, A.J.Sass, Eric Smith, Shakirah Bourne, Aida Salazar, Brendan Kiely, Adiba Jaigirdar, Andrea L. Rogers and Derick Brooks for collaborating together to create this must-read collection of truths.