Systems of oppression are alive and real even in the twenty-first century. These systems of oppression operate on the personal, interpersonal, cultural, and institutional levels. Power and privilege at all levels needs to be examined and addressed in order to achieve sustainable change.
Human diversity is beautiful and natural and is something to be embraced, not feared. It brings us, our communities, and our organizations many strengths, gifts, and opportunities for positive growth.
We must examine privilege and oppression as it relates to our own personal identities and experiences in order to effectively create systemic change.
All forms of identity based oppression (racism, sexism, classism, ableism, heterosexism, etc.) are intertwined and therefore require we deeply examine these relationships and construct a multi-faceted approach to resisting oppression.
Effective anti-oppression work is a journey which requires a commitment to a process, constant analysis (both of self and organization/community), and continuous education.
The voices of members of the oppressed community must be at the forefront of the movement and actions to dismantle that form of oppression.
Melinda Haus, M.S.W. Director, Educator,
Activist, and Passionate Agent of Change
Melinda was born into a family and community of activists which helped form the foundation for her life’s passion working for social justice. After acquiring a disability at the age of 15, she learned quickly about the oppression people with disabilities face and later went on to work at Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services, Inc., Michigan Disability Rights Coalition and United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan. Melinda has also been involved in many collaborations addressing injustice such as co-facilitating an institute on the intersections of race, class, and disability with Allies for Change and improving domestic and sexual violence services for people with disabilities and LGBTQIA* individuals through the Partners Against Violence and Injustice in Michigan and the I Am for Survivors projects with the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. Additionally, she has experience working with the LBGTQIA community through her work at the Michigan State University LBGT Resource Center and serving on a national committee for the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce. As a white woman, Melinda is continuously examining white privilege and racial justice through educational opportunities, but most importantly through authentic relationships with people and communities of color; all of which has gifted her with personal growth, education, and a commitment to racial justice.