From the Students Themselves: What is an Ally? 

By Katie Patrick ‘21, Caroline Ross ‘22, Sloane O’Connor ‘22, and Dante Ornelas ‘24

Over the last several months, There has been a greater focus on the fight for diversity, equity and belonging in our world than ever before, particularly for Black people. Through social media posts and protests, society has been determined to get their message across: Black Lives Matter. However, it is crucial we also take actions in our school community. What exactly does it mean to be a good ally? We gathered students of various demographics and asked them questions about allyship and what it means and looks like in our community. 

How would you describe a supportive ally? 

  • “I would describe being a supportive ally in our school as someone who supports and uplifts the voices of the oppressed. Oftentimes minorities find themselves in situations where they don't feel comfortable speaking up especially when they are offended, but by being a supportive ally you can give minorities the platform to speak on their everyday experiences and allow for change to happen within the community.”- TJ Moss ‘21 

  • “Someone who treats everyone with respect and doesn't have any presumptions before getting to know someone. A lot of people have different assumptions and stereotypes and I think a supportive ally is someone who does not have these presumptions before hand.”- Ana Bach ‘21

  • ““I would describe one [an ally] as someone who listens to the group in question and hears what they have to say, then uses their privilege to make those voices heard. So like, retweeting someone on twitter or quoting someone when making an argument.”- Mimi Shea ‘22

  • “Spreading awareness is key to everything going on. I think people turn a blind eye and don't pay attention and realize how serious the problem is. Any discriminaton or prejudice you see, speak up and speak out because nothing can be changed unless it is talked about and brought up so use your voice and use your social media.”- Zach Gunn 21

Would you say that your white peers have been good allies throughout your time at SSSAS?

  •  “Yes, very much so! It’s great to see that they are aware of this problem and that they want to talk about it and use their platforms for the good!”- Tahirah Turnage ‘22

  • “Oh yeah definitely. I know at least a couple have been going to protests and all of them are in support of BLM. Again though, we can always be doing more.”- Mimi Shea ‘22

Where can society and people in our community improve in this area? 

  • “For one, I think we are doing a great job of communicating and taking ownership of what we aren’t doing. I think we are way ahead of the game in that area, however I think one area that everyone can improve in is listening and taking in the stories of those who have been oppressed. Oftentimes the best way to fully understand what someone is going through is to actually experience it yourself, in most cases, this won’t happen to the majority of society so the next best thing is actually listening to what the oppressed are saying. Oftentimes we may listen to what the oppressed are saying but we can’t understand what they are saying. Listening and understanding are two different things. This area is something I think we should focus in on a little more.”- TJ Moss ‘21

How have you been a good ally?

  • “I’m a firm believer in intersectionality and that you can belong to multiple groups, with that said we must take into account for people who are a minority and are oppressed. I am trying to take into account people who identify as belonging to multiple groups and ways of being inclusive to make sure everyone feels welcomed into our community.”- TJ Moss ‘21

  • .“I’d like to think so, but there’s always something more I could be doing. I’ve been signing petitions and donating as much as I can, but I haven’t been able to go to the protests because of COVID.”- Mimi Shea 

  • “I hope so as I am trying to educate both myself and the people around me!”- Grace Murphy ‘21

  • “Being a good ally is being someone who is understanding and supportive of the motive. If you're trying to make a change by going out and protesting and believing that Black lives really do matter, a true ally would support you with that and they'd go with you to protests and believe you have the strength to make a change.”- Zach Gunn ‘21

A discussion with the school co-presidents: How are they planning on encouraging allyship & supporting people of color in our community?

 Our school presidents, Olivia Duvall ‘21 and Barrett Lattrop ‘21 are both dedicated to taking extra measures to acknowledge the importance of affinity groups and to making sure people of color feel included in our community. They explain that one role of the SCA is to make sure the entire student body feels represented and calls out any injustice in the community. So, the SCA and affinity groups came together to find a way to make sure that people of color have greater say. They created a coalition that Barret explains is “to educate people on black history, because I feel like a lot of black history has been overshadowed by what the school forces us to learn in history classes so we don't get to grasp the full history of black people in our society.” Olivia says about the coalition that she “hopes everyone can become individual leaders and help fight to undo the bias that is occurring at school and in the world today.” Both presidents hope that they can do even more once they are allowed to hold more in person meetings and activities to help advocate. They are prioritizing the fight to stop injustice in our community and they look forward to working with students and teachers throughout the year to make that happen.