On Monday 28th of June, Simone Roche MBE joined co-founders of She Leads for Legacy, Sharon and Afiya Amesu for a conversation titled, ‘How to be an Effective Ally’. As Sharon explained as she introduced Simone to the attendees of the event, “Simone’s agenda around race and gender began before the events of May 2020 […] The platforms that Simone has founded work to bring visibility and acknowledgement and credit to people from minoritized backgrounds”. Her experience and authenticity as an ally made Simone a well positioned source of information to pass on to Legacy Leaders. Here are some of the core takeaways that Simone imparted to attendees on Monday evening.
Throughout the conversation, it seemed the word that underpinned the evening was ‘intentional’. In the same way that this word underpinned the mood of the evening, so too should it underpin the efforts of allies as they promote and champion the communities they stand for. As Simone suggested, the title of ‘ally’ is not given lightly, requiring active commitment rather than passive reaction. In Simone’s words, ‘it’s not just a badge you can put on’. Quite rightly, it is our duty as allies to ensure that the impact of our work matches the intention of the promises made in the name of supporting marginalised communities. As Simone said, “if we’re intentional, active, and really focused on making that difference then we can, we should and we have to”.
Make a consistent and concerted effort
In order to be effective in making this difference, it is also necessary for allies to be resilient and consistent in their allyship. “If there’s an obstacle, you find a different way around it”, Simone commented. “You’ve got to be determined. If you’re on this journey, you’ve got to be all in”. When it comes to the practical things that we can do to create this change, Simone encourages everyone to look into their skillset, and see what they can offer as an ally. “You have something within your gift that you can do, so use it”, she said. As a natural networker, connector and communicator, Simone knows that one method for creating effective change is to “go out into your own communities and ask people, unearth those role models”. Simone explained how everyone is in a position to take action, that “even if it’s something as small as reading up, and then passing it on to someone else”, these smaller actions go on to create larger waves of change.
Ask questions and Listen to the response
Most importantly, before launching into decisive action that we assume will solve the problems of the communities we support, as allies we must first listen carefully to what is needed from us. This sentiment was summarised by event co-host, Sharon Amesu: “as allies one of the key things that we can bring to this space is the mindset of the scholar. The humble scholar who’s wanting to learn more and will lean into that inquiry in a curious honest way”. This was echoed by Simone, who encouraged attendees to embrace the fact that they aren’t always going to get it right, but instead to focus on asking questions. Particularly around the language we use as allies to talk about the challenges that marginalised communities face, Simone urged, “if you’re unsure of the language to use, ask!”
If you have found the contents of this conversation to be engaging and insightful, make sure to keep an eye out on the She Leads for Legacy events page. You can register to their sign up list to receive regular updates, and be the first to know about the next change-making conversation Sharon and Afiya Amesu will be hosting.