So you want to be an ally? Newsflash: it’s not up to you.

I am writing this as a white, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, middle-class British female in her early twenties.

When Ropa asked me to write about white allyship, I initially said, ‘of course, if you think that it could be positive’.

Then I tried to write it.

And stopped.

Tried again.

And walked away in frustration yet again.

This process was repeated many times.

My frustration? I felt like everything I was saying was either too simplistic, or too repetitive; too obvious, or too assured. After all, who am I to think I can write about allyship? I don’t want to be a badly placed echo of what other people are saying much more articulately on other platforms. I don’t want to suggest in any way that I am an ‘authority’ on this subject or that the allyship I try to build into my life is an ‘archetype’ or ‘ideal’ in any way, or even makes me an ally anyway.

So how to write this blog? Or is it even right to try?

Around my fiftieth draft, I articulated to a friend the conflict I was having over whether I should write a blog on this topic, and how to write anything worth reading. She pointed out that maybe that’s the point: maybe that’s what you should write about.

My title is the only thing that has remained from draft one and it highlights that discomfort in writing about being an ally. I cannot ‘identify’ as a white ally. I can only work hard every day to try and be one, and to practice allyship.

‘White womxn, stay in your lane. Leading anti-racism work is not it. This is not your work to lead. This is your work to do. Follow, amplify, center and pay Black womxn’
Monique Melton

Ropa and I previously had a conversation about our fears and conflict over ‘contributing to the noise’. We agreed that when developing your own voice to speak into these issues, you must ensure that what you are saying is constructive and worth something, formed with integrity and serious thought. As a white person, my voice should not be centralised in talking about race because being conscious of my race and experiencing racism is not my lived experience. But I can talk about whiteness and use my privilege to speak out and speak up. I am not neutral; I have a race. For me, that race gives me a privilege I must actively work to dismantle to make a fairer and more equal society. When I have nothing to add to discussions, I must recognise the role I can play in amplifying black people's voices.

This blog contains no easy answers. But that’s exactly the point. Being an ally is all about the questions: the world we live in should be questioned, scrutinised and changed. Because the structures and institutions that dictate the world we live in are unequal, oppressive, prejudiced, discriminatory, and harmful. For change to start happening, we need to question what is in place, every step of the way.

There is no endpoint. There is no finish line, and no appraisal to be gained. One can be an effective ally one day and then mess up the next. I wonder whether the use of ally as a noun is misleading because allyship must be more active than that. It should be a verb. ‘Allying’: the process of doing something. And doing it all the time, not just when the time and place suits. Being an ally is not a s