Archive for October, 2010


Just curious:  is it possible for an oppressor to be unaware (or at least, maybe unreflective) it is acting as an oppressor?  Or to put it another way, are the consequences the same for the lost people if the oppression is calculated and intentional (for example, U.S. policy to exterminate Native Peoples during the westward expansion, or Jim Crow laws) or blindly self-serving (for example, people who argue American values/laws/social policies are color blind and therefore reject concepts like white privilege, red-lining, etc.).  I’m not phrasing this very well, but I think you probably get my drift ….


Unaware oppression is more insidious simply because it is blind.  You truly don’t know the damage you are causing.  It is simply not in your world experience.  You have a learned, internalized perspective that drives your subconscious.  You act on that automaticity.  
The argument in support of “It’s the way that things are done” is “It’s the way that things have always been done.” 
Wonderfully and sadly, this works with everything.  It is sort of why people become loyal to brands…and why we want them to be. Patterned, socialized, and normalized behaviors are important for the survival of the species. It is why we all stop at a red light in India, Africa, or Holland. It is how we learn to drive cars.  Consider what happens when you might be slightly (or heavily) inebriated.  Not so automatic – huh!

Now, these behaviors don’t have to be good.  They simply have to be taught, accepted, socialized, and normalized. 

Normal does not have to be right.  Normal is simply that – NORMAL. 

Normal is also calming and predictable.  Shift my normal and I lose equilibrium.  As an “other” not within my normal, comes into my space, I naturally try to regain equilibrium. I step back.  I reassess.  I go through a brief grief process.  I try to regain or re-establish normal.  It is as if you walk home one day and your mother-in-law, whom you just can’t stand, is sitting glumly and gleefully in your living room.

Take that simple concept and expand it to power & authority, Jim Crow, Native Peoples, the overpopulation of Blacks in jail, a Black president…  Have fun with it.

Then you title it to something that taps directly into one of our most basal, subconscious needs – SAFETY!

The oppressor is not the oppressor in unaware oppression.  This is simply NORMAL – – – THE WAY THINGS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN DONE.  
Dog fighting is not a big deal if that is NORMAL – – -If it is THE WAY THINGS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN DONE.
Thinking of Blacks as sub-standard is NORMAL – – -If it is THE WAY THINGS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN DONE.
Having a Black president is not NORMAL – – -It is NOT THE WAY THINGS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN DONE.
Seeing a Black child as capable as a White is not NORMAL – – -It is NOT THE WAY THINGS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN DONE.
Shift my normal and I lose equilibrium.  I try to regain or re-establish normal…and if I have power, I will use the concept of your subconscious need to drive that re-establishment of NORMAL!

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The pigs shimmied up to the bar at 106 Dooley Street.

 They sat, ordered their usual, and engaged in spirited conversation about the issues of the day.

 It was 12:30 when Chicken-one arrived.

 He waddled-shimmied up to the bar where the pigs had convened two-hours before.  They were sharing spirited brotherhood.

 “Oink oink, cluck cluck, oink oink oink, grunt grunt, cluck oink” he said as he bellied up to the bar.

 “Oink oink grunt” they responded, and tossed a few candied corn and a piece of bread in his direction.

                                                                           Two more hours had passed.

 The door swung open.  In the doorway with breast held high and one monocled eye  –  stood…chicken-two.

 The pigs all turned to stare.                 At the far end of the bar a beak-snout peered…barely visible.

 Spurs armed to strike – – – beak poised to maim – – – dust-broom at the ready.

                                                               Chicken-one blocked the entrance.

Oink oink oink, cluck oink, oink oink cluck!” he charged.  “There’s only room for one.  There’s only room for one.  There’s only enough candy-corn and bread to feed one!  Find your own!”

 “But Brother – – – cluck!” complained, retorted, begged, pleaded chicken-two.

 “NO Brother!” demanded chicken-one.  Oink!



                                                  Chicken-two was put out by chicken-one.   He turned and left.

 Chicken-one waddle-shimmied back to his spot and continued to eat what was given to him.

 “Oink oink cluck oink” he said proudly.

                                              The bar was crowded. The music was blaring.  No one paid notice.

                                               He had earned his day’s rations.  He knew it.  They knew it.

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