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Anti-Oppression Resources: Allyship/Activism

Understanding Privilege

What is privilege? 

"Privilege" refers to certain social advantages, benefits, or degrees of prestige and respect that an individual has by virtue of belonging to certain social identity groups. Within American and other Western societies, these privileged social identities—of people who have historically occupied positions of dominance over others—include whites, males, heterosexuals, Christians, and the wealthy, among others. 

In Hawaiʻi, certain ethnic groups that are considered minorities on the North American continent, including Japanese-Americans and Chinese-Americans, can be considered a privileged social identity group. Learn more about privilege in the Hawai'i context with the following resources.


What is allyship?

Allyship is the lifelong process in which people with privilege and power work to develop empathy towards a marginalized group's challenges or issues. The goal of allyship is to create a culture in which the marginalized group feels valued, supported, and heard. Since everyone holds systemic power in some areas and lacks it in others, everyone has areas in which they can practice allyship.

"[As a white person,] I’ve described my journey as an antiracist as I’m a poisonous snake — not inherently bad, but I carry a poison that can kill, and I need to do everything in my power every day not to bite people of color, and I need to, just like a snake, shed my skin, not that I can get rid of my white skin but shed the embedded white supremacy that lives with me and in my community. And that’s not easy work. It means changing everything about what we’ve always known."

--Molly Sweeney, organizing director at 482 Forward, an education organizing network in Detroit

A Few Do's and Don'ts

In a nutshell: nānā ka maka, hoʻolohe ka pepeiao, paʻa ka waha


  • Do be open to listening
  • Do be aware of your implicit biases
  • Do your research to learn more about the history of the struggle in which you are participating
  • Do the inner work to figure out a way to acknowledge how you participate in oppressive systems
  • Do the outer work and figure out how to change the oppressive systems
  • Do amplify (online and when physically present) the voices of those without your privilege
  • Do learn how to listen and accept criticism with grace, even if it’s uncomfortable


  • Do not expect to be taught or shown. Take it upon yourself to use the tools around you to learn and answer your questions
  • Do not participate for the gold medal in the “Oppression Olympics” (you don’t need to compare how your struggle is just as bad)
  • Do not behave as though you know best
  • Do not take credit for the labor of those who are marginalized and did the work before you stepped into the picture
  • Do not assume that every member of an underinvested group feels oppressed

From the Guide to Allyship

A Kāhea

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Everyone in Hawaiʻi, with our varying historical positions, can do more to educate ourselves at this moment—ourselves included. We are grateful for our conscious readers who challenge us to always think more deeply. Last week we reposted a photo of a local police officer and a Black boy smiling together without critically examining its message and implications; this week, we recommit to doing better. Turning to Hawaiian knowledge, this Kānaka resource, from Kahala Johnson, a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Ph.D. student with a focus in Indigenous Relations, Alternative Futures and Political Theory, can be a step for all to healing and action. “Get plenty of resources out there for haole to ally with Black folks,” Johnson says of this kāhea, which guides Hawaiians through understanding how to learn from being called out, misapplying Kapu Aloha, and the need to support the Black Lives Matter movement using moʻolelo and lāʻau lapaʻau . “Get more we gotta talk about,” kākou/mākou/we says, “but this is an intro.” With this post, we’ll also take a pause on social media today to allow our team to further educate themselves—read, watch, listen, then listen again—and engage with their communities on how to interrogate systemic inequalities, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, and how policing policies brutalize Black people on the U.S. continent and native and indigenous communities in our own home. We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

A post shared by fluxhawaii (@fluxhawaii) on

Ally in Training

Learning About Activism


Other Ways You Can Help

  • Donate to bail funds or mutual aid groups.
  • Join a mutual aid group if you can't donate to one.
  • Remotely provide protestors with protection against COVID-19 and tear gas.
  • Read about systemic racism, privilege, prison and police abolition, and the history of oppression against Black people in this country.
  • Talk to your racist family members about what's going on and hold them accountable for their views.
  • Call or text your elected officials.
Windward Community College Library • 45-720 Keaʻahala Rd. • Kāneʻohe, HI 96744
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