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Allyship in POC and Disabilities

October 2021

Wondering how you can be a good ally to your peers with marginalized identities? Below we discuss this important aspect of your role as a graduate student. Remember that we are

stronger together!

In this month’s module, we will discuss how to be a good ally to people of color and disabled people.


We hope that you continue engaging with this content beyond the end of the module.

Cracked Concrete Wall


People of Color (POC)
October 10 - 16, 2021

There are many ways to be an ally for people of color, and you don’t have to be a person of color to be an ally!  Below we discuss challenges that people of color face and ways to be a good ally. 

Challenges faced by POC

Unrealistic expectations
Systemic exclusion

How to be a good ally


Things that are happening to POC change frequently (e.g. #BLM and xenophobia towards Asians).  Always try to keep up as to what is going on (this is best to do your own research and not just ask a POC what issues they currently dealing with.  If you ask a POC to explain their issues to you, it’s more burden on the POC as some topics may not be able to explain.)

Avoid "performative" allyship

Australian journalist Monisha Rudhran defines performative allyship as “the practice of words, posts and gestures that do more to promote an individual’s own virtuous moral compass than actually helping the causes that they’re intending to showcase.” Example: Supporting racial equity but lacking diversity in leadership

Speak up

Speak up in your own social circles and get uncomfortable.  This is the best way to call people out for being racist and using privilege to voices that don’t normally have privilege. 






Continuously evaluate your allyship.  Allyship is not just a one-time checklist.  Always evaluate where you stand in your allyship and be open to criticism.  

Lined Surface


October 24 - 30, 2021

The term disability refers to a large range of conditions, which collectively and individually can be varied and dynamic. In academic settings, there are some common barriers that disabled people/people with disabilities (PWD) face. Below we discuss unique challenges faced by this group and ways to be an ally.

Challenges faced by disabled people/PWD

Accommodations Process
Ineffective Dispute Resolution Mechanisms
Inadequate Funding for Graduate School

How to be a good ally


There are many different forms of disabilities, which can change over time.  Even people with the same disability can have very different experiences despite having similar disabilities.  Determine how the person wants (whether it be identity-first or person-first) to engage as you talk to them.  Learn what is ableism, which is discrimination in favor of abled.


Ensure the content you are producing can reach all audience. 

Some examples:

  1. Having close captions for virtual lectures/presentations

  2. Not choosing colors that a colorblind student can’t see.



Advocating does not only have to come from disabled people/people with disabilities (PWD).  Abled people can advocate and be proactive when discrimination comes up.



Allyship is not just a one-time checklist.  Always evaluate where you stand in your allyship and be open to criticism.  Mistakes will happen as your learning so don’t let it discourage you to be an ally.

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