Interrupting the Cycle of Oppression: The Role of Allies as Agents of Change
Extended Comments on Mike's Mind
I also found this article a very good read in the purpose in how becoming an ally a great way of diminishing the power of oppression. Ayvazian describes an ally as a member of a dominant group in our society who works to dismantle any form of oppression from which she or he receives the benefit. She discusses the dominant group, as white, heterosexual as the particular force and group to rid society of all the negativity that comes with oppression. But whites are not the only group classified as dominant. Everybody has some sort of dominance within their genetic make-up whether it be gender, race or sex.
As Mike stated in his blog, we learned in class that an agent is someone who stands up for someone who is being bullied, attacked and targeted. Ayvazian goes on to say allied behavior is an effective way to interrupt the cycle of violence by breaking the silence that reinforces the cycle, and by promoting a new set of behavior through modeling and mentoring. She defines modeling and mentoring these abusive powers by standing up and taking action to fight the cause of oppression. When you see it happening, do something about it. Silence is only adding to the problem especially if you are part of the dominant group. She also made me realize that white, heterosexual males aren't the only dominant groups. For example, when Kenneth Jones referred to allied behavior as "having my back". That statement is so true because you are helping with the fight to rid oppression altogether when you were work together no matter what race, sex, or gender. People of all colors, shapes and sizes bring more awareness to the table when we come together to fight the cause. Jones is not classified as "dominant" because he's African American but he can talk to his fellow African American males because he is viewed as the same as them. He later states he's reaching out to the group Andrea would have a hard time reaching out to because she's a woman and classified as less. In return Andrea can reach out to the whites where Ken would have a hard time reaching because of his race, gender and sex. That's the definition of "having my back" where if everyone took that approach we would have a fighting chance to rid the world of oppression or make a big difference in that aspect.
The quote is on the bottom of page 599. "The anti-racism trainer Kenneth Jones, an African American, refers to allied behavior as "being at my back." He has said to me, "Andrea, I know you are at my back on the issue of race equality-you're talking to white people who cannot hear me on this topic, you're out there raising these issues repeatedly, you're organizing with other whites to stand up to racism. And I'm at your back. I'm raising issues of gender equity with men, I am talking to men who cannot hear you, I've made a committment to combat sexism."
I also agree with Mike that Ayvazian's article does relate to Johnson's "Privelege, Power and Difference." Where Johnson states we need to step up and take a stand anf fight oppression. Where if we just stand around and not do anything we are adding to the problem. Also Yamato's article "Something About the Subject Makes it Hard to Name", sheds light to being aware and taking a stand on oppression. We need to stop shying away from the problem and recognize what can we do to help and fix the problem.
Overall great article Mike. I enjoyed your comments and questions to share with the class. It starts with the individual iside of us to diminish oppression overall. By education, awareness, mentoring and modeling hopefully we will begin to make bigger strides in this area. I also believe a Gender and Society class like this one should be mandatory in all college's as a Gen. Ed. requirement.