Full Episode

Allies

The word "ally" is thrown around a lot these days, especially by people who work to support women, people of colour, and those in the LGBT community. This week, we go beyond the buzz of the word to see what it really means... and whether it makes a difference.
Penn State student Logan Cawley wears red high heels and Nittany Lion socks for the Penn State University student-staged event "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes", Thursday, April 11, 2013, in State College, Pa. Students put on high heels and walked in solidarity to show support for survivors of sexual violence. (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Nabil K. Mark)
Listen to the full episode54:00

The word "ally" is thrown around a lot these days, especially by people who work to support women, people of colour, and those in the LGBT community. This week, we go beyond the buzz of the word to see what it really means to be an ally... and whether it makes a difference.

Here are the stories from this week's episode...

Why straight, white, able-bodied men have a role to play in workplace diversity

As a member of a visible minority who wears his Sikh faith openly, has experienced discrimination, and has a deaf son, Tej Singh Hazra says his lived experience has informed his work as a corporate inclusion manager. But even straight, white, able-bodied men can be allies in the workplace, he argues, because diversity shouldn't just be framed in terms of ethnicity, gender, ability or sexual orientation... but "human difference".

Feminista Jones doesn't think you're an ally

Activist, writer and social worker Feminista Jones believes language matters. That's why she doesn't like the term 'ally', at least not in the way it's popularly used today. She tells Piya the mutual benefit inherently implied in the term makes it moot, and that all too often people wear it as a badge to seek kudos. Instead, she suggests replacing it with 'co-conspirator', a term she says demands real action and real risk.

How much can symbolic acts by allies really achieve?

Put on your heels, strut your stuff, have some fun, and raise some money. That's the basic premise behind Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, a global event that sees men march in high heels and raise money for women's shelters. Darryl Andrée's been participating in such walks in St. Catharine's, Ontario for years. He tells Piya why he thinks such a symbolic act is a valid way to be an ally to victims of gender-based violence. 

Making space for mistakes and emotion in allyship

Over the past few years, Amanda Jette Knox's partner and child both came out as trans, and she came out as queer. That's made her think a lot about what it means to be an ally. She tells Piya what she's learned about the value of mistakes and emotion in one's attempt to be an ally, both from the perspective of being one, and having allies.