With the Black Lives Matter movement gaining more and more momentum each day, a new term has come to the public discourse, non-optical allyship.

For the past few weeks, there have been protests around the world in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The public discourse on institutionalised racism is one of the most important conversations that we need to have within our society today.

Recently, a new term has entered that conversation after it began to be popularised online. That term is non-optical allyship, but what does it mean and how can I practise it?

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Non-optical allyship: Meaning

At the time of writing, there is no set definition for ‘non-optical allyship’. However, the meaning of the term is being refined more and more people as begin to understand and share it.

The writer and activist Mireille Harper was the first to bring non-optical allyship to a large audience when she shared a ten-message thread to Twitter.

She describes ‘optical allyship’ as: “Only serve[ing] at the surface level to platform the ‘ally’, it makes a statement but doesn’t go beneath the surface and is not aimed at breaking away from the systems of power that oppress.

Therefore, ‘non-optical allyship’ is contrasting to this definition; providing a deeper, more supportive role in the fight against oppression.

The term essentially means “It’s not enough to be ‘not racist’ anymore”, i.e. you can’t just speak up alongside protestors, you have to act together against institutionalised racism.

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How to practise non-optical allyship

In a thread that has now been shared and reshared across the world, Mireille revealed 10 things that you can do today to practise non-optical allyship.

“I felt as a mixed race person who was emotionally capable despite the current situation that I could use my learned experience, skills and compassion to offer this advice to allies and anyone else who was seeking advice but didn’t know where to turn.” – Mireille Harper.

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