Interrupting the Cycle of Oppression:
The Role of Allies as Agents of Change
By: Andrea Ayvazian
I really liked the Ally reading, and feel that Ayvazian did a great way of showing examples and relating to her personal life, making it easier to understand. Right in the third sentence she already gives advice on what we can do to help, and she states, “ One way to overcome this sense of immobilization is to assume the role of an ally.” In a couple paragraphs later she goes on to state the definition of an ally. “An ally is 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.” I always knew ally meant friend, or supporter, but I never really thought of it in the sense of someone in a dominant group. Then she goes on mentioning that many times instead of sticking up for someone who needs an ally, many people just ignore the fact, and feel that its someone else’s responsibility, which I think all of us have been guilty of sometime in our lives.
I found it very interesting that she said even though some people can be entirely dominant at some point in there life, they wont be forever. She used the example of a white, able-bodied, heterosexual, Christian male, and said even he will grow out of his dominance when he reaches old age. I wish everyone could realize this fact, because I feel that some people shy away from being an ally, thinking they will never need one, but someday they might be a senior citizen needing help to cross a busy street.
Another quote explaining the definition of an ally is when she states “ Allied behavior is clear action aimed at dismantling the oppression of others in areas where you yourself benefit, it is proactive, intentional, and often involves taking a risk.” I believe the risk is what scares most people away of being an ally, but I think they should at least start off helping in small ways, to see that they will probably feel very good when they do help.
For some ways you can be an ally, visit the website mentioned by the video above, which is here.
Comments/Questions for class:
In the article Ayvazian wrote that an example of a small step she made to be an ally was that she has held off marrying her partner (a male) until gay and lesbian couples can be married and receive the same benefits and legal protection that heterosexual couples already have. In what other ways can we help some targeted group, like how Ayvazian has done? I consider her step to actually be a big step, but I’m sure there are some smaller steps to being an ally we can talk about in class that can help targeted groups.