There is controversy around the term “ally” because it has been misused by people who tend to be passive in their behaviors and actions and who may disagree with systemic oppression. There are a variety of terms to represent solidarity from an active stance or that challenge people to engage in more integrated and committed social justice and liberation efforts. Some of these terms are:


Leaders who hold privilege, speak up against injustices, and create spaces to hear the voices of oppressed individuals or groups by:

  • Valuing and respecting individuals and their group identities, considering differences in social power

  • Acknowledging the political nature of advocacy, asserting that all communities have a right to fair treatment, human dignity, and equal access

  • Raising consciousness balanced with cultural humility and constant personal examination of worldviews and beliefs


Leaders in prosocial change, advocacy, social justice, and human welfare who engage in acts of service for the public good and organize to bring socio-political change. Activists are often part of the oppressed groups they are advocating for. They promote human welfare by:

  • Connecting to a collective to engage in sustained and intentional social progress that challenges oppressive social structures

  • Avoiding the perpetuation of systemic oppression

  • Raising others’ awareness of the suffering caused by oppression


Leaders with privileged identities who acknowledge that in order to create sustained structural change, they may have to break laws that are oppressive and based on colonial structures and ideas. Accomplices respectfully listen and value Indigenous cultural practices and dynamics. They are explicit about their agenda in their efforts to build trust and create mutual consent. Decolonization of indigenous lands and concerns are the overarching goals through:

  • Formulating mutual understandings

  • Becoming complicit in the struggle towards liberation on an ongoing basis

  • Restoring Indigenous identities and attacking colonial structures

  • Articulating your relationship to Indigenous. Peoples whose lands you are occupying

  • Confronting and unsettling colonialism


Video about a racial assault on July 4, 2020: "I Was Nearly Lynched on Independence Day"To turn on closed captioning you can either press C on your keyboard once the video is playing or click the "CC" icon in the video controls. To turn on closed captioning you can either press C on your keyboard once the video is playing or click the “CC” icon in the video controls.

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    Take some time to think about how you want to use your privileges to engage in solidarity with oppressed groups. What would you like to accomplish? Where does this passion come from? 

    For more information about terms for solidarity and support, as well as ideas for active engagement, download the PDFs at and