Learning the ABCs of Allyship

Corey Ponder
6 min readDec 27, 2020

Did you know that someone proposed a new “Alphabet Song”? One that rids us of the famed LMNOP (read “ellemenopee”) in favor of each letter getting its shine in the song.

Of the few things that brought me joy this 2020, watching people on social media mourning the loss of LMNOP and questioning life’s cruelties over this change was pretty high on my list.

While I was squarely in the camp of the outraged who felt like a part of their childhood was taken away, it did make me think — what a perfect analogy to allyship.

What are the ABCs we are practicing and have internalized when it comes to showing up as an ally? Maybe we have developed a routine so familiar that we can recite it without thinking and practice it on autopilot. However, if there is a different way, a better way, that someone proposes, it sparks a visceral reaction.

It’s not easy to change. We are creatures of habit and change can be ugly, especially when we are confronting the uncertainty that comes with new decisions. In addition to that, I think opening up to change also means confronting who we currently are and accepting that we aren’t where we could be, or worse, where we thought we were. Regarding allyship, I think many of us take pride in our commitment to helping and showing up for others and feeling accomplished when we “do good”; however, these feelings of affirmation are limiting us in some ways, keeping us from pushing to a place where we are acknowledging our blind spots, thinking about where we still may be biased, where our privileges remain unchecked and harmful to others, and where our silence on issues functions as reinforcement of unfair outcomes.

We are so caught up in the song we sing ourselves sometimes that we don’t make room for the song we probably need to hear. We tell others we are allies or own it as a badge of honor, but aren’t actually aware of how others may perceive our commitment when it counts. We may support the ideas that everyone deserves respect and psychological safety; however, our interaction with our environment is very individualized and narrowly focused on how the environment impacts us, rather than how we impact the environment. We may show up for the cause, but not show…

Corey Ponder

Tech policy professional by day, wannabe superhero by night. Passionate about building communities, spaces, and platforms focused on inclusion and empathy.