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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Dear White People, It's Time To Recognize Our White Privilege

It's time to create needed equity between races
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White faces surrounded me. Walking through the hallways, sitting in class, talking to teachers, looking at my reflection in the mirror; it was an extremely rare day where more than a quarter of the people I encountered weren’t white. Growing up in a community that lacked diversity, there was an immense amount of white privilege.

Surrounded by so many other people of the same skin color, it was easy to disregard the advantages I had because of my race. Growing up, I found that many times I would recognize these privileges were times that I experienced white guilt.

I do not think that I should have felt guilty for being born with white skin; however, I am rightfully guilty of allowing myself to ignore the privilege I have. At a young age, I had trouble grasping the concept of white privilege because my friends who were not white received the same benefits as I did.

We all made the same soccer teams, we all got the same grades on our group projects; I assumed we all had the same advantages. My naïve point of view evolved as I aged and opened myself up to seeing the difficulties limited to the African American experience.

Once I reached an age where race became a noticeable factor in my daily life, I found myself pondering the concept of “white privilege”. Being young and beginning to understand the idea of inequality, I began to see that I had advantages as a white person that black people did not have. I began to notice my white privilege.

White privilege means that life is catered to people who are white. It is advantages you have when you are brought into this world with that will stay with you until you leave it. To my friend Allyson, a black college student, white privilege means “the ability to have safety and security that I will never have because of my skin color”.

Growing up in the same area, Allyson and I both agreed that regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender, there was an equal opportunity in our high school. The differences, however, were manifested in what white students did with their privilege. Over the span of four years we had multiple optional school days dedicated to diversity, and many white students, backed by their parents, chose to not attend despite the chance to further their experience with diversity.

Allyson saw that while white students and black students received almost equal benefits, “it is the reaction to certain opportunities that differentiate amongst white students and students of color”.

Allyson also enlightened me on certain aspects of white privilege that I had trouble recognizing. When going to the store to shop for hair products, there are many aisles available to satisfy hair and body products for white consumers, but a minuscule part dedicated to her needs that fell under “multicultural beauty”. This is a perfect example of how society has been built to cater for white people and further establishes white privilege.

As a white woman in America, my reason to bring up the issue of white privilege is to remind white individuals the importance of taking a step back to recognize how our lives are raised on a pedestal the second we're born. I am not saying that we need to get rid of this privilege, but we need to elevate others to create equity amongst all races. We do not need black convicted felons filling our prisons while white individuals who committed the same crimes receive a “get out of jail free card”.

We do not need black citizens getting shot by police officers because they looked “suspicious”. We do not need this criminal act of racial profiling that is plaguing our society and generations to come.

We demand change. It is long past the time to create this needed equity between races, but it is up to each and every one of us to take the opportunity to be open to a mentality that will allow each of us to contribute to a world that caters to all needs, no matter your skin color.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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Feminism Is Not About Equality, Blanket Encouragement, Or White Women

Feminism is about truly supporting all people in the most effective and validating ways.
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I hear a lot of misconceptions about feminism from all kinds of people. The more I read about it, the more I learn -- and the more I want to share. Feminism can always improve as new opinions and experiences arise.

First of all, let’s cover the stereotypes and the basics: feminists are not bra-burning, men hating, won’t-take-their-husband’s-last-name, “falsely accusing,” super angry women. We are not saying that men can’t hold the door or buy our dinner. We are not saying women can’t be perpetrators. We aren’t saying all men have it completely easy. We aren’t saying that women MUST get the highest position in her company or that women can’t be stay-at-home moms if they want to.

Women are allowed to be women in the ways that work for them and make them happy. A man being polite, or a man and a woman alternating buying dinner every now and then, is indeed okay. Different variations of feminism exist, and feminism is not what we -- as both men and women -- always think of it.

Feminism is not about equality -- it’s about equity. Equality is treating all people the same, while equity makes sure people have equal opportunities. It levels the playing field when barriers come into play for certain people. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, different experiences, and different levels of privilege that need to be accounted for.

Feminism is supporting other women -- except when it’s not. Feminism is not women blindly supporting all women or using blanket statements. We teach each other because we want the best true support and equity we can provide. We call each other in instead of calling each other out.

For example, some women who are recovering from eating disorders may post before-and-after pictures from their lowest weight to their current, recovered weight. I get why, and I’m proud of their progress, but shining a light on eating disorder recovery can be best served another way. By having that discussion and calling them in, we are being supportive in an effective way.

Before-and-after pictures can imply that people with eating disorders are always skinny. They imply that eating disorder recovery is solely about weight and body image, when it’s a mental disorder with a complex etiology. Before-and-after pictures don't portray recovery in an accurate way: they perpetuate stereotypes and further the idea that if people have eating disorders and need treatment, they must be super thin to get there -- which can be life-threatening, as all eating disorders are serious, regardless of weight.

Many people encounter barriers to treatment, whether that be because of money, insurance problems, or being afraid to go to a doctor because they don’t feel “sick enough.” In this way, feminism means breaking stereotypes and supporting the recovery of women of lower socio-economic status, for example.

I could talk about this for days.

Furthermore, if feminism isn’t intersectional, it’s not true feminism. I’m so over white feminism, and I’m a white woman -- imagine how “over it” people of color feel.

White feminism doesn’t account for transgender women who may have different body parts or can’t live in women’s shelters, and the compounded problems and dangers they encounter because of that. White feminism doesn’t account for the struggles that women who are also of color face. It ignores the fact that Native American women are 250 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.

If I could put numbers in all-capitals, I would.

These problems Native American women face are exacerbated by the stereotype that sexual assault affects only white women. They’re exacerbated by people who wear risque Native American costumes on Halloween that sexualize these women.

White feminism gives credit to white women when it’s supposed to be given to black women. Tarana Burke -- a black woman -- created the #MeToo movement -- and that is hardly ever mentioned.

Intersectional feminism -- the opposite of white feminism -- gives credit where it’s deserved and it looks out for the best interest of all women. It acknowledges the seriousness of not acknowledging feminism when it endangers the lives of people. In addition, intersectional feminism also exists for men.

Intersectional feminism goes against toxic masculinity that says men have to super macho and buff and aren’t “allowed” to cry or enjoy “female sports.” Feminism also supports the whole family as families that include women who are cared for, who carry babies, who contribute to income, and more.

Forms of resistance to feminism fall into a few categories, such as appeals to oneself, to progress, and to authority.

Appeals to oneself -- otherwise known as “Well I don’t assault women!” -- ignores the basic concept that if you aren’t doing something, you aren’t helping, you're hurting. Instead, call in friends who make sexist comments about “a woman’s role” or objectifying comments about a woman’s body. Look out for women at parties who have been drinking -- and don't judge them for doing so.

Appeals to progress -- otherwise known as “But we’ve come so far in history!” -- ignores the fact that we indeed still have problems, such as the safety of women. Yes, we’ve come a long way, but we still have work to do.

Appeals to authority -- otherwise known as “I know better than you!” -- ignores the women who have endured these experiences firsthand. It ignores that each experience is valid.

That’s the point of it all -- feminism welcomes all people. It embraces safety and equity. It calls people in when they could support their passions in a more effective way. It helps create safer situations and benefits all intersections of identities. It’s not white, or ignorant, or angry, or hateful. Feminism is about truly supporting all people in the most effective and validating ways.

Cover Image Credit: Nelly Rodi

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