Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Talking Points #6 Connections: Ayvazian and Occupy websites

Discussion on "Interrupting the Cycle of Oppression..." and Occupy Websites

Andrea Ayvazian speaks of the position many people find themselves in when they recognize issues of inequality but are unsure of how to address them.  The simple fact that the best action and direction for eliciting change isn't clear and obvious may leave many inspired to make it happen unwillful to take the initiative.  Ayvazian states; "it is hard for young people to grow up and fight racism if they have never met anyone who does."  This makes complete sense, as awareness is what begins the steps toward change.  If an individual is aware of a problem, but unaware of the possibility to take action or what options for action may be, the odds of that individual making a move on that problem are far less likely.  In Privilege, Power, and Difference, Johnson speaks of the importance of our decisions to participate in taking a stand.  He writes; "by changing how we participate in the world, [we] become part of the complex dynamic through which the world itself will change."  The Occupy Providence movement exemplifies this idea.  Those who are feeling the impact of economic inequality and displacement, as well as unethical economic control have been locked in the pursuit of government and social recognition of the need for change in practices.  Having the motivation and mindset for change is necessary, but it is through the example of those who help to pilot a cause, that the awareness that not only an issue of inequality exists, but also that the possibility to act against it exists as well. 

The term ally refers to a member of a dominant group who acts against forms of oppression of any kind that they might otherwise reap the benefit of.  An example of such an individual could be a male who is active in feminist rallies, or speaks for the equality of women in the work place.  Or the example Ayvazian speaks on of the group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, wherein heterosexual individuals work to increase awareness and equality for homosexuals.  Ayvazian describes such behavior as; "intentional, overt, consistent activity that challenges prevailing patterns of oppresion, makes privileges that are so often invisible visible, and facilitates the empowerment of persons targeted by oppression."  She states that such actions are intentional and often involve taking a risk, which I relate to Audre Lorde's words on survival and taking a stand against oppression in "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master's House."  In the piece she says; "[survival] is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish."  I find this statement applicable here as it speaks of the reality of taking action, and that it is necessary to work beyond consequent negativities rather than allow them to be deterrents and impasses. 

Ayvazian continues by discussing the need for those in dominant positions in society to take up causes for equality, as the progress for change is considerably closer at hand for those who are in a position of power to advocate for it.  She says; "Because of our very privilege, we have the potential to stir up good trouble, to challenge the status quo, and to inspire real and lasting change."  The idea of good trouble is interesting, as the challenging of set norms causes trouble for the establishments that support them.  Any such trouble in the effort of positive enforcement for equality bases itself on good intentions and a new establishment of more diversity-conscious norms.  Johnson also addresses the need for those in a position of greater power through privilege to acknowlege and accept responsibility for taking part in enacting positive change.  The need for equal justice should not be a cause left to the oppressed and targeted groups to take on alone.  He states; "if people in privileged groups don't include themselves in the solution, the default is to leave it to blacks and women and Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, lesbians, gay men, and the lower and working classes to do it on their own.

Comments / Point To Share

While our readings address various angles of privilege and oppression, it is clear how they intertwine.  The need for equality bewteen groups stands far less a chance of being fully realized when being preached for by those experiencing the oppression alone.  "The master's tools will never dismantle the masters house" is a phrase which applies to all areas in advocating change toward equality.  When being afforded less power in society is the issue being pressed, where does the power for change come from when the disadvantaged themselves are the only ones doing the pressing? 

1 comment:

  1. I like your quote "If an individual is aware of a problem, but unaware of the possibility to take action or what options for action may be, the odds of that individual making a move on that problem are far less likely". I pointed that out in my blog also. If we are not exposed to the problems that exists early on, it will become difficult to stand up for it.