Every year since I joined dev.to I always got excited when march came around. The flood of #shecoded stories in my feed is always prompts in me feelings of inspiration, thoughtfulness, anger, empathy, sadness, laughter, and many others.
This year I was a bit conflicted when I saw the addition of the #shecodedally tag.
Don't get me wrong, helping, supporting, listening, lending our privilege to (and some cases just getting out of the way of) our friends who are not cishet white males is extremely important.
But on the other hand, I don't think I've ever read a sentence that began with "I'm an ally to X" that didn't end up implying the total opposite of allyship to X.
In effect, people advertising their allyship has almost the same effect as people saying they are "the least [racist|misogynist|antisemitic|homophobic|etc.] person I know," you almost know for sure that what will follow that statement will make you cringe.
I guess to me, allyship is not a title you achieve, something you can BECOME ("I am an ally"), it's something you DO. It's a way you live your life and something you have to be conscious of and keep doing on an ongoing basis.
The second you bask in the glory of having become an ally in your own mind is the second you stop actively allying (that's a word! Don't @ me!) and, ironically, stop being an ally.
In other words, if you ever feel the need to tell someone you're an ally, stop and ponder what was it that made you feel that need. What are you trying to defend yourself against? What is the action or statement you made that would cause you to feel the need to declare your allyship? Could it be that the best course of action at this point is, not to defend your ally "status", and instead be quiet, listen, and learn for next time? (hint: yes).
The only ones who can give you the title "ally" are those who you are allying with. Virtually any time I've heard someone give the title to themselves it never ended well.
So during this month, please stop focusing on being an ally, and instead focus on listening, empathizing, and actually allying. Who knows? You may find yourself one day being called an ally, not by yourself, but by the people who actually matter.