Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Cycle of Oppression

Interrupting the Cycle of Oppression: 
The Roles of Allies as Agents of Change
Andrea Ayvazian

**Ayvazian focuses on the concept of being an ally in her reading. She stresses that becoming an ally, as a dominant group, is crucial to spreading the word to stop the forms of oppression that exist. 

"One way to overcome this sense of immobilization is to assume the role of an ally. Learning about this role--one that each and every one of us is capable of assuming--can offer us new ways of behaving and a new source of hope(Ayvazian)"

**According to Ayvazian, an ally is a member of a dominant group in our society who works to dismantle any form of oppression from which she of he receives the benefit. For example, men standing up for equal women's rights, a heterosexual standing up for homosexual rights, a white person standing up for the rights of people of color. She also describes the dominant groups as the ones receiving unearned advantage, benefit, or privileged.  I really liked the point that she brought up within her reading about the opportunity these dominant groups have: "the opportunity to raise hell with others like us and to interrupt the cycle of oppression".

**As we have mentioned in class, the most effective way to end all of this is to stand up and call it out. The dominant groups need to recognize there is a problem and stand up for the underprivileged rights. Due to the social, economic etc, inequality, society will listen to these dominant groups over the targeted ones. 

"Allied behavior is clear action aimed at diminishing the oppression of others in areas where you yourself benefit--it is proactive, intentional, and often involves taking a risk (Ayvazian)"

**Ayzazian also goes on to mention the relationship between oppression and violence. She mentions a group called The Batterers Anonymous where former perpetrators of violence come to talk to current batterers about violence. She also says that statistically, these groups help reduce the acts of violence that these batterers commit after hearing the former perpetrators talk about it.

**Another point she brings us is that we need positive role models who demonstrate equality. She mentions that it is hard for our children to become something they have never heard of or been exposed to. It becomes difficult to fight for the rights of other when you have no experience or prior witnessing of it before.

"The role of ally offers young people who are white, male, and in other dominant categories a positive, proactive, and proud identity. Rather than feeling guilty, shameful, and immobilized as the "oppressor," whites and other dominants can assume the important and useful role of social change agent (Ayvazian)."

**The connection to this article I would like to talk about is to Johnson's Privilege, Power, and Difference. Johnson talks a lot about ideas similar to those of Ayvazian. He talks about us getting along, and the dominants standing for the targets (maybe not in so many words.)

"I've been active in the movement against violence against women and have done diversity training in corporations and universities (Johnson)" 

**I want to relate this quote to Ayvazian's point about violence. She wants to stop violence in order to help to stop oppression. Johnson also participated in such activity. The quote from Johnson that really stuck out to me in relation to Ayvazian's piece was as follows"

"Understanding how to bring dominant groups into the conversation and the solution is the biggest challenge we face"

**Both of these authors are stressing the idea that the cycle of oppression will only end if dominant groups stand up for the targeted groups. I think that is one of the most important things I've learned in this course. I never really thought about that as a solution and it really opened my eyes to the opportunity we are all capable of: being allies.

**I was searching for some videos on oppressions and equality and I found this one of the golden girls talking about marriage equality. I think it's funny :) Enjoy!

**Point for class: How can we expose our children to tolerance and acceptance? I want my children to be sensitive to the fact that inequality exists. How do we teach the younger generations to abolish oppression, before they learn it?


  1. I love that you used a clip from the golden girls! its one of my favorite shows ever!

  2. Your cycle picture really speaks to the true argument of this article. The idea that a stereotype can go as far as a Internalized oppression is scary. We need to stop this cycle before it gets out of hand. Great post!