Tiffany over at Blackfeminism.org ALWAYS provides useful links and has insightful things to say. She links to piece by tekanji which outlines loads of ways to be a nice guy (in light of the privileges we experience in the world.) The list also outlines beautifully how to be a sensitive ally.
Some highlights from How to Be a Real Nice Guy:
Accept Your Privilege
It all starts with one simple self-realization: you are privileged. Chances are, your reading that has made you feel defensive. While it’s a perfectly natural, and common, reaction, don’t let it get in your way of actually thinking about what the statement means. What you need to realize is that we all have privilege to some degree: white privilege, male privilege, heterosexual privilege, etc. The hardest thing is to do is to get over your instinct to fight and say, “But I’m not like that!” If you can do it, you’ve completed the first step towards being a nice guy in reality rather than words.
Criticism is Not Hatred
Any time a minority busts out with an angry critique (or even a nice one), someone will eventually come up with the, “I’m sorry you hate men/whites/heterosexuals/etc.” line. With rare exception, minority individuals do not hate privileged indivuduals, but we do hate how many privileged individuals act! Learn to take criticism. Learn to not deflect it with excuses about how the minority person is just angry, hateful, etc. Even if the person in question is angry, hateful, etc. Even if you, personally, don’t act that way.
Don’t Use the Language of Opression Against Minorities
I cannot stress this one enough. Your foray into identity politics will inevitably give you a new set of vocabulary with how to define oppression, discrimination, prejudice, etc. This can be a powerful tool if used right, but can also can turn you into a Grade A Asshole if used wrong. Don’t forget that, with many groups, a sincere apology and inquiry as to the correct terminology will go a long way. And remember that you will find that different groups have different definitions of what language is acceptable. It can be annoying to keep the rhetoric straight, but do your best and you should be alright.