What are Advocacy and Allyship?
Advocacy and allyship are closely related terms that often intersect, but are not the same. Being an advocate involves being aware of a problem, educating yourself and others on it, and speaking up about it. Being an ally involves acknowledging your own privileges, transferring your privilege to others, and standing up for the cause. Activism is a combination of both advocacy and allyship, it means that you are using both advocacy and allyship to act on a problem and create political and social change.
In this guide we are focusing on how to be an effective advocate and ally. Once you have a good grasp on this, you can read more about how to get involved with activism in our toolkit linked here.
Where Do I Start?
The first step to being an effective climate activist is to educate yourself on climate science and the needs of your community. Understanding the scientific basis of climate change, the basics of climate policy, and how both of these concepts are affecting communities will help you know what to lobby for and help you feel more confident when lobbying. Our guides on decoding climate policy and the 2018 IPCC Special Report on Climate Change will help you build this background knowledge before you move forward!
How to Be an Effective Advocate or Ally
Advocacy and allyship can quickly become surface-level, as it does not necessarily require any sort of social action on the advocate’s part. Even if an advocate sees themselves as speaking for a group, they may not be sharing the full perspective of a marginalized group, they may be misrepresenting their struggles or desires, or they may be involved in actively oppressing the group themselves. Good intentions can turn harmful easily when trying to be an effective advocate or ally.
Therefore, advocacy should be combined with action to be the most effective. However, here are some ways that you can become a more informed citizen and advocate in terms of the climate crisis.
- Get informed! Use our resources alongside resources other organizations have taken the time to put together to inform yourself about the climate crisis, the current state of policy, and climate justice. Learn from multiple perspectives, often marginalized groups are left out of the conversation – seek out voices from those groups so that you can become most informed.
- Gain knowledge specific to your community. Search out organizations that are already doing valuable work within your community surrounding the climate crisis or other environmental initiatives. Listen to what they have to say! Climate change is affecting us all. Become familiar with the unique challenges and threats your community is facing, as well as the achievements they’ve made towards equity and sustainability.
- Start sharing. The simplest way to advocate is to begin conversations about topics like climate change or climate justice, even if they are uncomfortable. Since you’ve gained all this knowledge about the climate crisis, it’s your responsibility to communicate it with people you know and love. The easiest way to begin positive change is through a conversation!
Now that you have an understanding of advocacy and allyship, put these tools and knowledge to work! Follow our Humanist Guide to Activism to get involved with climate action in your community!