Self-Care for Allies

Being an ally and unlearning racism requires difficult work and it is ok to feel tired and overwhelmed. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.

  • Comfort in/dump out: This model, known as “ring theory,” helps ensure that we are both getting and giving good care. In ring theory, the most affected person is in the middle of a series of concentric circles. They turn to the people around them for support. In turn, the people in the first circle turn to the people around them for support, and never the directly affected person. In ring theory, you always have someone to “dump out” or “vent out” to, which allows you to be supported enough to “comfort in” to the directly affected population, or others struggling to offer support.
  • Take a break: The work of allyship is long and ongoing. While it is never ok to ask a Black person to process your feelings about allyship, it is ok to process your feelings with other allies and to take a rest when you need to. Communicate with your colleagues when you are feeling tapped out, and seek support from your circles. You will come back refreshed and ready to continue the work.
  • Seek institutional support: If you are feeling overwhelmed, unsure, or unsupported, let UMBC colleagues know. Talk to your supervisor, get input from colleagues in similar positions, and contact ECR for troubleshooting and ongoing training and development. This work is on all of us. You are not alone.


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