What’s beyond step four?


In general, I do not believe there is a manual to human condition and relationships.  Because of this, I have a hard time mapping how I interact with others based on manuals, step-by-step guides, etc.

With that being said, obviously I’m going to give a guide to being an ally, however unconventional and non-defining it may be.

**Refer to the photo above for suggested facial expressions to each step**

Step One:  Most everyone is already a bad-ass at step one.  It’s the clueless, unaware, we’re all equal, not-spending-a-second-on-it step.  It’s the step that causes a lot of people NOT to be an ally.  This step is unrecognized privilege.  If you’re white, you don’t recognize your benefits of being white. If you’re able-bodied, you don’t appreciate your privileges of being able-bodied. If you’re rich, then you’re not thinking about what it means for those who are low-income not to have the same luxuries.  If you’re male, you’re not taking time out of your day to think about what you did today that gave you privilege.  If you’re straight, same story. If you did not experience abuse, same story. If you are documented, same story. If you have an identity that’s not marginalized, same story.

Step Two:  WHHHHAAAAAATTTT? I’m privileged and just because I’ve accepted that doesn’t mean that I can move on to being an ally? Fuck no.  Before you can call yourself an ally, you’ve gotta do some self-work realizing your privileges and its affects on your relationships.  Personally, I just spent a year talking about power, privilege, and oppression and I still haven’t totally realized what it means to be privileged. Constantly checking yourself takes time and is a constant process that no one can ever say they’ve aced.  To start to be a good ally is to start doing self-work. Then doing more self-work.  Then doing some more self-work.

Step Three:  Honestly, I believe I’m still in step three a bit.  I’ve had some discourse, I have a stronger hold on what it means to be white, to be male, to be able-bodied, to be privileged, etc.  I find myself getting excited to talk about these issues with others. Anti-oppression work isn’t about a badge that you get to put on your sash.  It’s about understanding and working toward equality. Step three is beaming yourself down from some holy social justice pedestal.  Yes, do most people of a privileged identity not know what the hell is going on?  Probably, but that doesn’t mean that you get to vomit knowledge on them constantly.  That doesn’t mean that just because you have mastered the jargon (obviously I’m still on this step because I’m throwing out privilege, oppression, and ally more than I’m breathing air) you get to be angry at your fellow white/straight/able-bodied/male/etc. folks.  Take a look back at step one, friend.  It’s not an intentional step to be in all the time.  Relax, continue your journey, and don’t preach.

Step four:  This has to be my favorite step so far.  It’s simple.  Listen, support, and understand you still are clueless.  Step four is kind of a step one in my book.  Step one is one of ignorance, step two is one of self-understanding, and step three is one of calm-the-fuck-down.  Step four is one of effective action.   You should never be all, “oh, I’m an ally, spill your heart” or “oh, I understand that you don’t get equal rights, let’s be besties.” That’s kinda arrogant…and sometimes more offensive.  Step four is being supportive however you can without being abrasive.  To me, this step is one that I’m currently in and I think I’ll be in for awhile because I’m learning so much from not being abrasive with my new-found allyships or having expectations.  You’re still clueless, but at least you’re aware that you’re clueless, you are taking steps toward becoming more educated on things you didn’t even consider before now, and you are showing support by not being a lack of support.


Step four is kinda a medium-level step two.  and step one is always going to be happening.  I went through step three, so that’s probably not across the board.  These steps are just my own steps.  There are many more steps that are coming and I’ve probably went through more than four steps.  Steps, steps, steps. steps. steps.

In closing, allyship is way more than meets the eye. People need support in different ways, people give support in different ways.  Allyship is a trail that you must blaze on your own with guided support.

Should I say privilege, step, or ally one more time? PRIVILEGE, STEP, ALLY.

Look for another post when I realize  and can articulate steps 5,6,7,8.


3 Comments on “What’s beyond step four?”

  1. angelynnmarie says:

    This is awesome! I have such a complicated relationship with Step 3 (I’m sure I have complicated relationships with all of them in the struggle to be a better ally!). But I’m gonna comment on 3!

    It’s like, yeah, get off the pedestal where you think “being an ally” makes you better than others, for sure, but there’s this tension where sometimes it IS important to preach. Figuring out when I’m doing it out of standing up for what’s right versus self-importance is an ongoing push and pull. I totally agree though that the jargon and language of anti-oppression can be a kind of power, and like any power it can be abused when you are, as you saying, vomiting knowledge constantly.

    Also, I just love imagining you making that face in Step 3 picture at someone before you lay down some serious knowledge, and it makes me happy. 🙂

  2. Jean says:

    I love this so much. I just want to send it to everyone I know.

  3. Cherise says:

    I love this. Thanks for sharing, Josh!

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