How to create a system of oppression:
-Create a set of standards members of a targeted group can never meet.
-Discredit/discard anyone who seeks out change. Call them over-emotional, ugly or stupid. Use their “flaws” to undermine their point. This serves the dual purpose of gas lighting the individual and deflecting attention away from their potentially convincing or revolutionary testimony.
-Pit members of marginalized groups against each other, so they are competing for the same opportunities, or believe that they are. Create structural barriers to participation in groups, so they feel isolated. If you’re lucky, they will police themselves, and each other.
-Be nice, but not kind. Insist this is how things are, and oh, well. Fail to notice institutional errors or believe they are biologically predetermined or in keeping with romanticized tradition.
This happens on all sides, in every political system. It’s exclusionary and cyclical. No one is immune. We are all responsible.
Breaking the cycle of oppression, one at a time
If 2016 was about realizing how far we are from one another, then 2017 is about accountability and empathy. It’s about integrity. There is so much to be done, and it is on all of us to slay these demons even as they seem to grow ever-more heads.
Let us not be demotivated by our past “failures,” for the kind actions of our past are investments for which we haven’t yet seen dividends. The tides of change are slow but strong, as we all know; they have turned so many times, even within a short lifetime–such is the joy of exponential growth.
In many ways, I am powerless. But today I am privileged with purpose. I have made a pledge to check in with myself often, and I invite anyone else who feels comfortable to check in, too.
Ask yourself these difficult questions, “How I am I empowering the people I know? WHO am I empowering, and who am I disempowering?” and “Am I comfortable with that?”
It is so hard to fight an oppressive system from within, but so many problems could be evaded or solved by better awareness of the self and others. Sometimes we feel paralyzed to change our lives because of our idealism and search for perfection, but real happiness springs from doing good work more consistently. Be kinder to others–and in so doing, add value to your own self-concept.
Loving yourself more fully enables you to love others more easily. And in amassing powerful, radical love for each other and our selves, we become stronger in our fight to dismantle systems of oppression and make the world better for people who live here.
I paint a lovely picture here, but love can be back-breaking and soul-crushing work, too. That’s why it’s so, so important to be kind to one another. That’s what I think, anyway. Thanks for reading.