Becoming an Ally: Breaking the Cycle of Oppression
James S. Frideres is associate dean (research) in the Faculty of Social
Sciences at the University of Calgary and the author of A World of
Communities: Participatory Research.
Anne Bishop is an angry person: she is angry at other people, angry at
the social organization of Canada, and angry with herself. As an adult
educator and social activist, the author’s goal is to teach others how
to overcome the internalized oppression that people accept and to move
toward liberating the individual, thereby achieving the liberation of
others. The book shows how people can get together, become allies, and
deal with oppressive actions by others.
Becoming an Ally contains many insights into the issue of oppression
and how to deal with it. Unfortunately, the organization of the material
is difficult to follow. For example, the author presents an interesting
discussion as to how supranational systems have been created and lead to
oppression but then leaves it, never to integrate the argument with the
remainder of the material. And, while the book has a “structural”
mode to its analysis, the examples always seem to be reduced to
individuals. Strategies presented for overcoming oppression are nearly
always linked to the individual and not to the structure of society. The
muddled thinking and confused organization make this book less useful
than it could be.