Allyship, from a 2018 Forbes magazine article, is "any person [who] that actively promotes and aspires to advance the culture of inclusion through intentional, positive and conscious efforts that benefit people as a whole."

So how does one follow upon the Pioneer issue of war and war in Ukraine? A war that is relentless against Ukrainians as we speak.  My default when faced with overwhelming odds in life’s manifestations is to reground in those life places of the doable. The doable I turn to with us is also an exciting new word for me. Allyship! I hope it can be a do-word and a doable for many of us at OCCC.

Allyship, from a 2018 Forbes magazine article, is “any person [who] that actively promotes and aspires to advance the culture of inclusion through intentional, positive and conscious efforts that benefit people as a whole.” Nice! Culture, inclusion, intentional, positive, conscious, benefit, people as a whole. Yes. Those things.  Sunlight galore. That is what I call a good definition, and what I call a word that we can share as the OCCC community of persons.  Persons who can work against wars, little and big, and persons who can work for each other and for our community wholeness.

Let’s together make allyship a doable for OCCC. My doable of just last week was to attend a staff/faculty training on allyship for faculty/staff. Organized and presented by two of our most wonderful professors, Thomas Horne and LeErin Probasco, the training brought me into a community on campus I am so happy to join. There also was our Director of Diversity, Fatemeh Radmard, OCCC Counselor Kelsey Oliver, and old friends Mary Turner and Valerie Havrilla. I mention them all because they are terrific OCCC people who you can reach out to for any reason, and perhaps now reach out for allyship.

I realize that the essential meaning of the word is applied to institutions as outreach and safe zones for LGBTQIA+ members. Yes, please, and thank you. But this word is too great for us not to take use it for all OCCC relationships. I really love this word in the context of how we behave toward all – human, non-human, and anything in between. It resonates deeper in the heart than the word tolerance and is less pushy than the word compassion. How should I act toward strangers? Allyship. Towards colleagues? Allyship. Towards my students? Allyship. My difficult work relations? Allyship. My ecosystem and biodome? Allyship.

As an essence of supporting and keeping safe our LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters and non-binaries, I needed some thoughtful discussion to help me be centered better for this important work. Professor Thomas Horne was there for me. He sorted out why the use of pronounced pronouns matter. They are a sign and signal of our sensitivity and understanding of alternative ways of being in a society. An outreach that how I am is as important as you are and how you are is as important as I am. The sensitivity needed to build the most positive relationships to those who feel as outsiders, and let’s be honest with some very current state bills being signed, made outsiders by our Oklahoma legislative body.  Being mis-gendered by others involves hurtful naming and dead naming, stepping on human rights, and misunderstanding the make-up of intimacy and sexuality as a human essence for all of us.  That gender is a spectrum which includes intimacy, attraction, sexuality, and expression of identity.  These things are for all us to navigate in each of our lives, so what else is there in understanding this and in supporting others on different but the same, journeys but allyship? The same is always more than the different in being human. Why I will always argue that sunlight always has a larger profundity in life than shadow. Allyship-being more sunlight than shadow for self and others.  Thank you, Professor Horne, for your sunlight.

Doing allyship (again from Forbes Magazine) is:

  • a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people.
  • not self-defined—work and efforts must be recognized by those you are seeking to ally with.
  • an opportunity to grow and learn about ourselves, whilst building confidence in others.

Trust is the key here for me. That we each find our self-integrity in that hard work of know thyself. That we each then bring that integrity forward in daily interactions and relationship building. That it is a community-building transaction, no transformation. That unkind, unreflective, and poorly thought-out judgements are replaced by curiosity, an embrace of our social nature and needs, and just the fun of being with others who are working for a common good. For OCCC, that is empowering our students while doing the same for ourselves through learning and growing into our best humanness. Oh, yea, allyship. 

The dark is so dark right now with the war in Ukraine (and never forgetting those other places where governments bring suffering).  And the sunlight is here around us, too. In us more precisely, but then around us as each of us brings that light out to bear upon the people around us as we interact in an OCCC community of allyship.

Cheers to my allies, all!