Sunday, December 5, 2021

Work With Us, Not For Us: Strategies To Become A Better Ally For Indigenous Peoples

We are writing this article together – Kelly, an Aboriginal woman living in Comboumerry Country, and Richard, a Canadian white settler living in the lands of the Minjungbal people of the Bunjalung Nation.

Kelly, as an Australian Indigenous Academician, is often treated with guest lectures. She is keen to accept these invitations because she believes that acts of reciprocity and relationship are important building blocks for reconciliation. In addition, her job requires her to teach indigenous history and knowledge.

Unfortunately, in many cases, her knowledge is appropriated, reproduced without permission, often misinterpreted or somehow distorted and colonized. All this happens under the guise of a non-indigenous person with “good intentions.” In addition, Kelly often manages her indigenous knowledge.

This is not uncommon for indigenous scientists.

The result for these academics is often an increased and unpaid workload and a lack of opportunities for collaboration between academics or faculty. All this is combined with the trauma that occurs with constant microaggression and racism.

White people often do not understand the nature of the difference in power and privilege of whites – with all the attendant benefits, including money, prestige, and even the ability to act.

Besides, good intentions alone are not enough. Settlers need to understand the principles of proper alliance.

This requires not acting on behalf of anyone, but giving up space and decision-making power to others, and prioritizing the voices and experiences of indigenous peoples and communities. Indigenous communities can address all issues concerning themselves and their knowledge. Allies must understand that this is non-negotiable.

Here we invite you to think about some strategies that will help you become a good ally for indigenous peoples and communities.

What can I do?

1) First, allies must embrace and confront racism, explore how they can be part of the problem, and look for ways to change.

It means thinking and accepting your own privilege. Acceptance allows us to better understand how we influence others.

2) Always put the voices of indigenous peoples ahead of your own. Their voices – not the voices of the settlers – matter in what happens to their communities. This applies to everything – law, politics, healthcare, funding decisions, choices made (or not), and research done (or not).

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3) As allies, someone’s skills and accomplishments do not take precedence over indigenous peoples and their needs. Rather, allies should prioritize building “the right relationship”. It is the act of establishing relationships with the Aboriginal peoples as allies in a culturally acceptable and reflective manner.

4) Listen to and believe the voices of indigenous peoples and take a position of cultural humility.

Cultural humility is the pursuit of self-awareness and self-awareness. It also means addressing power imbalances and developing mutual, non-paternalistic partnerships with Ancestral peoples and communities.

In addition, any right to determine the form or direction of political, economic or academic projects in which indigenous peoples are involved should be waived. This should be determined by the indigenous peoples or in consultation with them.

5) Publicly support the sovereignty, self-determination and autonomy of indigenous peoples. In this case, only act if the indigenous peoples find it valuable. If they say it can be harmful, refuse and keep quiet.

6) Finally, if consistent with the relevant indigenous voices, teach (not preach) anti-racist messages to our white peers and others.

It is important to involve peers in this process. People need space to express their views, even if their views may be perceived as “racist”. Open dialogue is a way to overcome potential hostility that can arise when people are defensive.

More: For too long, research has been done on indigenous peoples, not on them. Universities can change that

All people have the right to autonomy and the right to determine what is right for their own communities. This is also a manifestation of power, because only those who are privileged enough to make that choice can do it. Being the best ally means using the space given to you to provide space for people who are too often excluded from the conversation.

If you are being labeled as racist or culturally insensitive, listen and take this comment seriously as a gift and an invitation to change.

Racism is a white problem, and white people have to solve it.

This article is republished from – The Conversation – Read the – original article.

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