Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

How to be a Derby House Principles ally

Nick Pett, a senior civil servant in the UK Ministry of Defence, gave an outstanding talk recently on how to be an ally to the LGBT community.

I want you to watch it. And I want you to apply his sentiments to women and BAME/BIPOC and disabled wargamers as well.

To paraphrase his excellent example of what being an ally means:

It can’t all be about straight white non-disabled men asking marginalised people “What can I do to make your life better? And if you could just talk me through your trauma in order to educate me that would be really helpful thanks.”

It’s beholden on me to make it my work to develop my allyship so that it’s not about expecting the people experiencing discrimination to talk about it and explain it and help me—there’s stacks out there that I can look at and listen to and absorb without it adding to the load of marginalised people.

I think a lot of people talking about allyship would love to sell something that feels really cosy and overwhelmingly positive, that you’ve just got to slap a badge on and stick something in your signature block, and every year post something on social media about Pride happening or Black History Month, and never actively do anything that is any of the -isms. And I’m not selling that, because it’s rubbish. I think allyship is and should be hard work. And you have to think carefully about how much you can call yourself an ally, particularly if nobody marginalised in wargaming would agree with you. 

If you’re going to claim allyship you need to be working at it every day: I didn’t come out of the womb understanding what it’s like to be a woman or LGBT or BAME/BIPOC or disabled. I’ve spent a long time trying to learn. I’m reading books about their history and their presence and that’s the kind of thing that I commit to doing because if I’m going to try and represent people I need to understand them and their lives. You should know and understand that the vast vast majority of what is out there that you will come across casually without any effort at all is cis-gendered heterosexual white and non-disabled and is casually if not deliberately phobic and discriminatory in a variety of different ways.

If you as a marginalised wargamer are to be confident in my allyship then you ought to be able to see it everywhere I go. You should be able to see me and hear me and know my allyship wherever I am. You will know my allyship because I wear it on me somewhere all the time—and I don’t think these are empty symbols unless the behaviour that comes behind undermines them. I want people to be able to see that women, LGBT, BAME/BIPOC, and disability communities are something that I love and support and want to protect and celebrate.

Signing up to the Derby House Principles means:

Representation: striving for parity of women and minorities in your wargames and at your wargames, events, conferences, panels, socials, working groups, etc. And not just in admin and junior roles.

Opportunities: mentoring, encouraging, and opening doors for women and minority wargamers. Celebrating their achievements and actively seeking out their contributions.

Support: fighting for women and minority wargamers’ rights to equality; pushing back whenever you see women and minority wargamers not being treated with respect; not standing for words and actions that demean women and minority wargamers. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

Here’s your starter for ten of things you can watch to help you be a better Derby House Principles ally:

Hannah Gadsby on drawing the line between good and bad:

You should also check out Nanette:

Feminism is trans-inclusive:

Disability is not the worst thing in life:

Mercury 13:

“If we’re going to send a human being to space, we should send the one most qualified.” Mercury 13 tells the remarkable true story of the women who fought for their place in the stars.

The Happiness Lab:

Read more about the Derby House Principles for diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming here.

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