Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Oppression is a disease that can only be cured by inoculation; Andrea Ayvazian; Connection Format

    Throughout the course of this class, there has been an ongoing theme. I’m not talking about the racism, sexism, feminism, or stereotypes but the solution that has been given for each. Andrea Ayvazian, author of Interrupting the Cycle of Oppression: The Role of Allies as Agents of Change, was on the same page as Allen G. Johnson’s Privilege, Power and Difference. In the paragraphs, I will summarize what Ayvzian text, give you connections with other work we’ve done, and describe why I think she is right!

    To begin I’m going to summarize the point Ayvazian was trying to make. She wrote that by having people become allies that we could decrease inequity, decrease violence associated towards minority groups (including sex, gender, race, religion) and promote positive role models for kids growing up today. According to Ayvazian, an ally is a member of the dominant group who works to dismantle any form of oppression from which he or she benefits from. She argued that people are more likely to hear other people out if they are part of the same group, which would bring about more equality. Then she said oppression works because of ideologies and violence against minorities. This combination creates an endless cycle that feeds itself and can only be stopped if we attack the institution as opposed to the individual. The example she provided was the one where women are more likely to ‘survive’ if the perpetrator of the violence is exposed through direct intervention, as opposed to teaching the individual women to defend herself. This in essence would reduce violence. Lastly, an increase in allies would make younger adults more aware of oppression and how to contribute. She argued that young adults in class rooms have a hard time naming white people who are anti racist, and by increasing their awareness they could provide positive role models for young adults, so that one day we can live in a “nonviolent army of allies” according to Ayvazian.

    Now that that you have the gist of the story let me show how it connects to our other readings. The fist example I have is of Johnson’s Privileged, Power, and Difference. He argued that although racism is a touchy subject people don’t like to talk about, we have to deal with it. What is more important is that this ties to the notion of allies, Johnson wrote that if the minority could do something about the situation they would have already, it is up to the people in position of power to make a difference. This ties to the notion of Allies because it requires people who are part of the dominate group to stand up and say, “No!,” to racism as Ayvazian would say it.

    Another way this text connects with other readings we have done in class, is in Anzaldua’s work titled La conciencia de la mestiza:toward a new consciousness. Anzaldua argued that the mestiza would breed a new form of consciousness that would result in less violence, and injustices. This ties to the notion Ayvazian was trying to make about providing positive role models. These role models would influence another generation of kids whom could change how the world would be in 10, 20, or 30 years. Although these two authors would agree on where the future should be headed, they differ in whom they believe will lead the charge. Ayvazian believes change would result from people who are part of the dominant group, hence the allies, whereas Anzaldua would argue that it is up to the people who are different to address the problem and inform others to reduce the fear of the unknown, which may be held by the dominant group.

    The next text I want to connect Ayvazian’s work to, is to Peggy Orenstein’s book titled Cinderella Ate My Daughter. Although Orenstein argued more than one point, her book mainly dealt with the values girls are associating themselves with, through various media and the potential problems it is creating for girls, women, and feminism in general. This may be a stretch but I think Ayvazian work connects to Orenstein’s book by the manner in which to reduce violence. Although Orenstein did not really talk about violence, she did write about the stereotypes children are learning through popular television. Boys are learning to be ‘a man’ through movies like “Hercules”, ‘Dragon Ball Z’ and other cartoons, which is projected through their anger towards women and society. Ayvazian argued that it is not the victims that need counseling after abuse though, but the institution by exposed direct intervention.

    Lastly I want conclude by saying that I believe in what Ayvazian and Johnson have been saying all along. For there to be change, people on the other side of the fence must stand up and say something. For example, I feel that the Occupy movement would be strengthened if they had more supporters who represent the 1% of the people who exercise their social, economic, and political power. It is easier to think of social reform as a metaphor. Think that racism is a sickness and society is the body, the main culprit is of the infection is the flu, who is the dominant group. For the body to get better the body needs inoculation of the flu or majority to cure or fix the sickness at hand.  Today, there are still some issue that need people from the dominant group to help those in need, such as the Dream Act movement, gay marriage movement, and Occupy movement.

    Before I leave I want to leave you with a good example of allies in the real world. On an article titled Look at All the Rich People Supporting Occupy Wall Street, I found a few wealthy people who are advocating for the 99%. Another article that I found that is similar is titled ‘Occupy’ protestors find allies in the ranks of the wealthy. But allies can be found in other movements as well, as you can see from the article labeled Celebrity Tough Guys that Support Gay Marriage.

Comments and Questions : All this reading has made me think about the situation in Rhode Island, regarding the Occupy Providence movement. I want to know whether the press it has received, has been considered positive or negative? What were the opinions of people considered the 1% in Rhode Island, regarding the movement? Based on the reading from Ayvazian, what could be done to strengthen Occupy Providence?


  1. I did my blog on connections to Johnson too! That was the first thing I noticed! Their views are so similar and they seem to be on the same page about it all. Our posts are very similar!

  2. I like your analogy of society as the human body. I was a little confused by it at first, but I'm guessing what you're saying is inoculation of the existence of dominance is what's necessary rather than inoculation or removal of the people or group of people itself. Right? Wrong?