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Talk:Submissions/Allies Birds of a Feather

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Latest comment: 7 years ago by Seeeko

Hi and thanks for this submission :) I have two concerns with this talk, maybe you can provide more information to mitigate them. Firstly, I fear that a lot of people are not familiar with this kind of vocabularity and won't realize this is about them. Like, I know men who are in the "yeah I want to fight sexism but I don't know how to do it properly" mindset but will not think of themselves as "allies". Maybe that can be handled by wording the submission differently.

My other concern is about focusing on "allies talking to allies" in a multi-axes talk. I'm more used to a downstream approach where for instance, women talk within each other on what they really need men to do (and not what they think men are able to hear without seeing them as "going to far" or something). Once this work of gathering needs is done, the knowledge is passed down to the allies. I fear that in a setting where we'll discuss several axes in the same time, switching for ally to "minority" status, we won't be able to identify real issues and useful behaviours to tackle them. Do you have any additional information / experience that would help me be more confident in the sucess of this talk ? Léna (talk) 20:51, 8 April 2017 (UTC)Reply

Hi Léna, many thanks for your excellent and thoughtful questions, and equally, many apologies for the delayed response. We've been doing some exciting "ally" work ourselves recently, and have been a bit caught up with that. I do see your point around language - not everyone understands the word "ally" or "allyship", even as they may understand the concept (especially in non-English languages). It's sometimes useful to start building shared vocabulary around an important concept, like this one, but I agree, we could/should add some clarifying language. What do you think about adding language that says "if you consider yourself an ally - i.e. you do/would like to support others in fighting systemic bias (especially if you don't feel you face it yourself or you don't look like the people you support\)"? A bit wordy, but clearer? Suggestions welcome!
About the downstream approach vs. this one, I think multiple methods have their value, for such a complex subject. But certainly, for the Wikimedia movement, it seems to me that we do some (though arguably, not enough) "safe spaces" in which specific communities talk and work with each other, but we have had fewer to no spaces in which we've talked about the messy and tough practices of standing up for and supporting those who _don't look like us. Particularly as we work towards greater diversity and inclusion in our movement, we do need to start having these spaces, even as the safe spaces continue to exist - and conversation between them is encouraged. I'm afraid of promising too much with this session! - no session of limited time can do everything, especially for a subject this complex. But we are testing our approach in other spaces right now, and intend to work with a methodology of small group discussions and appreciative inquiry, so that we aren't being directive, instead truly have a shared conversation about different strategies and approaches of support. And please, we'd love more thoughts from you on this! Would you like to join in designing the session if it's accepted? :-) Anasuyas (talk) 07:18, 26 April 2017 (UTC)Reply
I will also add here that one of the classic challenges in the downstream approach is that, while allies do need to hear from women (/people of color, /LGBTQ folks /etc) what/how they can support marginalized folks, there is also some work that allies just need to do on ourselves which shouldn't take up marginalized communities time. For example, learning to listen and not take up too much space. This is something that takes practice for some folks (!), and can take support to get good at it. But it isn't something that, say, a trans person should have to spend their precious time teaching a cis person to do. It is, however, perhaps something that a group of allies can work together on to get better at. This is a somewhat simplistic example, I know, but I think it can be a possible outcome of multi-axis sessions like this, if the right connections are made. Echoing Anasuya also in looking forward to hearing other ideas you have, and making changes to the text based on what you'd suggest. Cheers, Seeeko (talk) 07:33, 26 April 2017 (UTC)Reply