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Action and Accountability Required to Challenge Oppression

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The need for personal responsibility is stronger than ever for those who claim to be part of the evolving movement against oppression in any and all forms. Here's a basic refresher on what oppression, power and control are really about: 

Ø Oppression is defined as systematic, pervasive, routine and institutionalized mistreatment of individuals on the basis of their membership in various groups which are disadvantaged by imbalances in power in society.  
Ø It is the invalidation, denial or non-recognition of the complete humanness of others -- based on race, gender, socioeconomic or other factors.
Ø Oppression takes the form of institutional as well as individual mistreatment, including violence.

 

Ø Control refers to exercising power over, restraining and dominating. Oppression is a form of control that  is expressed in five areas: thought; feelings; drives (or priorities); behavior and environmental factors.

The freedom of all of us depends on whether we continue to minimize how those who do not have the best interests of the masses in mind, can continue to control mostl resources by having oppressed groups fighting among themselves while taking their focus off the important issues. One way we all can help create a better world is to stop letting trivial matters separate otherwise decent people. None of us will agree on everything, but we must be clear that respect for the basic humanity of all people is required.

Ask yourself: Based on differences in areas such as language, social class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and physical ability -- what assumptions do we make about ourselves and others? What truths or half-truths do we accept that cause us to devalue and dehumanize someone just because they are different from us? What are both positive and negative assumptions and qualities we assign to particular/specific people based on group identification related to race/ethnicity, language factors, gender, etc. What difficulties do we have in addressing and accepting differences among people? What are barriers to revising/updating our own knowledge, attitudes and actions? What are our own personal characteristics that we disown that are similar to other people, where we make excuses for ourselves yet want to believe the worst about, and condemn, in other people? 

Another area for each of us to examine is how we support the status quo which is no longer working (if it ever did) for the masses. Why do so many people focus on a politician's sexual escapades rather than his views about poor people or whether a politician feels entitled to privileges to the point that basic laws shouldn't apply to her? We need to challenge the moral insanity (among those with sociopathic tendencies) that masquerades as "being normal." Their non-sense needs to be called out and no longer rewarded. To demonstrate this kind of clarity requires decency and diligence, responsibility as well as accountability for ourselves, even though we must acknowledge that we all are imperfect as individuals.

We need to stop looking to politicians only to provide leadership. Just because they are elected doesn't mean they are good leaders. There are brilliant scholars, writers, psychotherapists, police officers, doctors and nurses, teachers, parents and grassroots activists,etc. -- people in different professions and diverse communities -- who have insights that are valuable. They can be supported as leaders in their areas of expertise, capacity and contributions in challenging the dysfunctional societal systems  to promote a better world.

As a conscious African American woman (I increasingly became conscious by dealing with issues rather than avoiding them, recognizing I still have much to learn), I have always been part of the anti-oppression movement. In the best ways I can, I use my consciousness through my work and personal interactions. One way is by doing trainings on Mental Health, Culture and Diversity issues. I challenge basic premises and assumptions that support oppression of people based on the nonsense that one group (whether based on race, gender or money) is inherently superior to all others. My basic message is: No one is completely inferior or superior in all areas. We each can learn from others who are both alike and different from us. Diverse people we meet in life may be more knowledgeable or experienced in some ways we are not, but we all have worth as human beings and something of value to offer no matter how relatively minor or small a contribution.

America needs ongoing exposure to direct, no-nonsense people in all professional fields (not just politicians) who will provide clear, rational and reasonable solutions, with balanced approaches that show respect for the intelligence of, and compassion for, people in general. 

Those who are basically decent need to be prepared to pay a price as well (often psychosocial but sometimes in the form of physical threats against them), because there will be resistance.  When change is threatening, people resort to personal attacks against the messengers. Major systemic barriers exist because, as Abolitionist Frederick Douglass has been quoted as saying, "Power concedes nothing without a demand."

And there often is resistance among many who themselves are oppressed. They may be otherwise decent, but if they are less "evolved" (less conscious), these people will personally attack individuals who take them out of their comfort zone. When people are forced to confront fears and anxiety, it is common to "project" and place blame for their issues onto others. It is a hard pill to swallow to realize one is participating in one's own oppression, often by identifying with the oppressors when no good will can be found among any person who would want to brainwash you into believing you are inferior, less-than, in order to control your life (your options, choices, resources in all areas).

We need to support and encourage the courageous people who are for the most part intelligent, fair, compassionate and reasonable, rather than leave them to feel alone and isolated when others gang up on them for truth-telling.

 

Fannie LeFlore, MS, LPC, CADC-D, is Owner/President of LeFlore Communications, LLC (www.leflorecommunications.com). She has over 20 years of combined professional experience in the fields of Writing/Editing/Corporate Communications and (more...)
 

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An Alternative to Capitalism (if the people kn... by John Steinsvold on Wednesday, Dec 14, 2011 at 7:41:13 PM
Fannie, you are completely correct.  Until th... by Fay Paxton on Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012 at 8:43:38 AM