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Redefining Who An Interfaith Ally Can Be (Hint: It’s You and You and…)

We need solidarity and allyship more than ever, especially in these increasingly divisive times.

More people of all faiths, non-faiths, denominations, political beliefs, and people of all kinds are coming together in solidarity. Various interfaith movements have united in response to horrific tragedies. Some examples are this viral social media campaign of #SolidarityIs or this interfaith service in France.

To continue this movement of solidarity, we need to redefine who an ally is.

What is an ally?

As stated in my original Huffington Post article, an ally is usually a member of a more dominant, or privileged, group. As part of the dominant group, the ally can use their privilege to “combat inequality and oppression of disadvantaged group.”

But this traditional definition causes a distinct divide, as mentioned in the original article:

But this understanding sets up an an “us” (dominant group) and “them” (oppressed groups) dichotomy when in reality the dynamics of power and oppression are much more multidimensional. Experiences of disadvantage are varied and can manifest in everyday interpersonal and group interactions, through institutionalized practices and policies, and in our taken-for-granted norms, beliefs, and values. It used to be the case that only members of the dominant group could speak on behalf of those being oppressed, but thanks to the social media revolution, this is no longer the case. If it were, consciousness-raising movements like Occupy Wall Street and #BlackLivesMatter wouldn’t have garnered worldwide media attention.

Who can be an ally?

While the dominant should still continue to use their privilege for the oppressed, going past this traditional frame can go a long way.

Instead, let’s redefine who an ally can be. As stated in Huffington Post, an ally can be someone who:

Actively supports and defends the rights and dignity of people from social groups other than their own.

Or is personally committed to fighting oppression and prejudice anyway they can.

Works to create interpersonal, institutional, and cultural change.

Is you.

Is me.

By redefining who an ally can be, we can spur the movement of solidarity and change even further. By positioning ourselves as an ally, even as part of the minority, the oppressed, or even the privileged, we can make strides towards creating positive social and cultural change.

Read the full article here.

Photo credit: © Kanlayavadee Thephasdin Na Ayuthaya | Dreamstime.com

Lori Fazzino

Lori Fazzino

Lori L. Fazzino is a sociologist, public intellectual, and consultant for the national Secular Student Alliance. She earned her Bachelor’s in Sociology from Pacific Lutheran University (2010) and Master’s in Sociology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, (2012) where she is completing her Ph.D. in Sociology and teaches as a graduate instructor. Her research interests include religious deconversion, the lived experience of irreligion, deviant heroism, Evangelical Christian culture industries and embodiment.

Claremont Core

Claremont Lincoln University

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Lori Fazzino

Lori Fazzino

Lori L. Fazzino is a sociologist, public intellectual, and consultant for the national Secular Student Alliance. She earned her Bachelor’s in Sociology from Pacific Lutheran University (2010) and Master’s in Sociology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, (2012) where she is completing her Ph.D. in Sociology and teaches as a graduate instructor. Her research interests include religious deconversion, the lived experience of irreligion, deviant heroism, Evangelical Christian culture industries and embodiment.

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