A Guide To Becoming A Minority Group Ally

A Guide To Becoming A Minority Group Ally

Navigating social oppression in the US.
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In light of the election results I thought I'd share this again for anyone that doesn't understand why minorities are freaking out.

Navigating the Terms

Sociologists define minority and majority groups based on their social power, or more to the point, the ability of one group to oppress another. Due to politically endorsed institutions such as slavery and sexism individuals who are not "White" and/or female have been oppressed systemically since our country's founding. Since the sociological definition of minority does not have to do with population size it has become more correct to refer to majority groups as Dominant and minority groups as Subordinate.

Subordinate groups consist of any individuals who are not white cis-gender straight Christian males. The LGBTQ Community, all individuals who identify as any "race" outside of white/Caucasian, anyone that does not identify as Christian, anyone identifying as female, disabled, and many other individuals are all apart of the subordinate group or minority community.

Oppression has many forms like prejudice, discrimination, and racism.

Prejudice is when an individual uses a stereotype to characterize an individual that they do not know. For example assuming an individual likes a certain food item because of their perceived nationality or ethnic characteristics is prejudiced. Also assuming and individual is unintelligent because of a physical handicap is prejudiced as well.

Discrimination is a physical act against another person because they are a minority. For example a use of force on an unarmed individual because they are perceived to be dangerous due to their ethnic background. Using a racial slur or sexually objectifying a woman verbally are also acts of discrimination. Terminating a worker because of their minority status and even not including someone in a group are all acts of discrimination.

Racism, sexism and many other such "isms" are systems of oppression that reinforced by the actors of the law like police officers, members of congress, and senators. Once a majority group has normalized itself and it is interpreted as the default for what is proper in a society the members all gain a power and influence in society. Accessing education is easy for members of the majority due to income inequities so their power and influence becomes passed down their generations. These individuals do nothing to actively investigate the plight of the minority and act on their prejudice as a whole. Thus it becomes increasingly difficult for individuals of the minority to access education, have social mobility, or own property which means their pursuit of happiness is interrupted by this system.

Because our brains are hardwired to identify things it is nearly impossible to view another individual without judgement. I am not saying that individuals should attempt to not see people as different from them. It is better, instead to acknowledge your bias internally. When we do not know or understand someone our brain fills in what we do not know with stereotypes, getting to know people from minority groups that make you uncomfortable is a great start to seeing beyond what makes them different from you.

Understanding "Ally"



1. What Is Inequality?


The evasion or stripping of rights that benefit the dominate group.

Income Inequality can result in Location Inequality which leads to greater exposure to stress, poor air, bad water, and an unstable economy. (URBAN ECOLOGY)






2.War?

The use of the word ally implies a war. There is a sort of social war for minority people that they must battle every day. Each day colloquial language, discriminatory coalitions, and governmental policies impact the lives of people who are highly underrepresented in politics. This is a war. Lives are being lost, trans-lives, Muslim-lives, female-lives; will you fight with us?

3.Oppression can be systemic and covert

Systemic Oppression

System- A series of networks, typically a cycle where the inputs and outputs are dependent upon one another.

Oppression- Withholding rights

Therefore Systemic Oppression is: A political cycle that withholds rights.

Macro-Aggressions are a distinguishable historical event that set precedent for a legacy of prejudice

4. Covert Oppression: Micro Aggressions
An insult, gesture, presumption, verbal or physical assault against a minority person or group.
  • The Danger of #JK

Comedy is an excellent stress reliever and way of dealing with complex subjects in simplistic formats. Jokes become dangerous when they reaffirm systemic inequality.

5. How to Be an Ally No one is asking you to become a superhero but getting educated about the history of minority people is a great place to start. After education comes activism; join a movement, donate to a cause, attend BSC meetings, become a part of ODB. Live every day to make difference, don’t let jokes slip by without addressing them, don’t be afraid to correct people, and don’t get testy when you get corrected. Become aware of your privilege, practice mediation, encourage minority people and support individuals that you see struggling around you.

Resources

§AAPD (American Association of People With Disabilities) www.aapd.com

VocaLady www.vocaladymagazine.com

NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) www.naacp.com

HRC (Human Rights Campaign) www.HRC.org

GLAAD www.Glaad.org/gotyourback


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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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What It's Like To Be In The Minority AND Majority Groups

Your perspective shifts, the world around you looks different, you become different.

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This semester I'm taking quite a few classes that have discussions and readings surrounding the topics of racism, prejudice, discrimination and different group dynamics in this world. We talk a lot about how they intertwine with each other or how they most definitely do not.

For as long as I can remember, I was the girl in my classes that was asked those certain questions. The ones you get asked when your skin color isn't the same as everyone else. "What are you?" "What kind of food do you eat at home?" "Can you speak languages that aren't like... English?"

My parents are from India, so my ethnicity is Indian. My skin is brown and my hair is black. I don't look like any other ethnic group except for Indian, so people tend to zone in on all the questions that flood their minds when it comes to talking to others that are apart from their culture.

Elementary school was around the time when I realized that while I grew up in Missouri and had the same American traditions (for the most part) as everyone else, I was always slightly put in an outer group because of my skin color. Middle school was when these realizations became more of a reality. People would ask me questions about my ethnicity, but they wouldn't ask in a nice way -- they didn't really want to know. It was more of a mockery, an intentional exclusion from their world. A world that I was already living in, but for some reason I was singled out.

When you're in middle school, you're already insecure about quite literally everything about yourself. So at a place where I had absolutely zero confidence, those words of exclusion would hit me hard. There were many more instances in middle school where I would get asked questions like If I spoke "Indian," if my family was Hindu... the list goes on. Each time I would get asked a question like this, a little piece of my culture felt like it was being stripped away. I began to feel ashamed for things that I had no reason to be ashamed of. In the public eye, I felt like I couldn't express that part of my ethnicity and if I did, I would get made fun of for it.

High school, on the other hand, was a different story. A better story? Maybe a story that I felt more included in. While people occasionally would ask me pinpointed questions about my ethnicity, they were less derogative questions that people genuinely wanted answers too. Who knew people actually can grow up from middle school to high school? It was like I shifted worlds a bit. I was pulled out of a world of pointed fingers and into a world of acceptance and awe. All of sudden, people were fawning over my hair, complimenting my skin tone and feeding me the affirmation that was stripped away in middle school.

I was still the minority in some instances, but I was also part of the majority group. I never had to worry about cops treating me differently, I never had to be watched when I went into stores and as time went on, I was just another young woman living in America.

Being able to have two perspectives of each group has been extremely beneficial to me. I've been able to side with others from different standpoints as well as have a voice in different environments when it comes to speaking about ethnicity and culture. I'm very proud of my cultural background as well as my background within all my other affiliations that I identify with. This is just a part of who I am and I'm glad that I've gained confidence over the years to live that out to the best of my abilities.

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