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“Be an Ally” video fosters strength through understanding

Talking about our differences may be uncomfortable but bears fruit, Davis says.

Headshots of people who speak in the video

VCU Health has produced a new video encouraging allyship to overcome differences.

“Be an Ally” supports the health system’s commitment to recognizing and embracing diverse backgrounds, identities and lived experiences. 

“One of the foundational pillars of diversity, equity and inclusion is the need to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” said Marcelle Wilson Davis, DSL, director of diversity, equity and inclusion for the health system. “To be effective allies, we must take the time to listen to one another . . .  There is strength in our differences.”

In “Be the Ally,” individuals of different races, cultures, sexualities and physical abilities describe the challenges they’ve faced and how allyship can help bridge the divide.

“To have an ally just means to be human, to have a heart, to not judge,” says Heba Abbassy, whose family hails from Egypt.

“Allyship is authenticity,” explains Evan Lee-Ferrand, who straddles lines of race, language and sexuality. “In authenticity, you’re really ready to embrace the differences other people bring to the table.”

Effective allyship means educating oneself about those who are different so that we can (1) learn about each other, (2) understand our own mistakes, and (3) speak for those who don’t always have the opportunity to speak for themselves, Davis said.

“It takes courage to share our lived experiences. It is important that we are intentional about supporting each other regardless of our differences.”

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