Oppression: The exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner.
Oppression in essence is the experience of repeated, widespread, systemic injustice. At times it’s extreme and violent and other times it’s subtle and if you have not experienced it or prefer to walk through life with blinders on, you may miss it. In my opinion, for some folks it has become normalized because they either practice it or “see it” in everyday life.
Take a minute and think about our society, and the state we’ve lived in just for the past 50 years. Systemic oppression and racism are embedded in unquestioned norms, habits, and symbols; from the laws and policies that are implemented to the collective consequences of following or not following those laws and policies.
This can be seen in the fabric of every city, state, town and community in this country. I’m talking about the unconscionable injustices folks of color have suffered as a consequence of often “unconscious” assumptions and the reactions of sometimes, well-meaning people in ordinary situations. And thus we have propaganda, which the media uses, along with cultural, ethnic and gender stereotypes, to perpetuate and keep the cycle of oppression running as it has from the moment the Declaration of Independence was signed.
The irony is that some folks who are part of the “privileged groups” and who are the beneficiaries of the oppression I’m speaking about, won’t admit that they have a vested interest in the continuation of the status quo, and thus, they will argue adamantly that they are not agents of oppression.
For example, we have a presidential elect, aka, Donald Trump. who would like nothing else but to “make America great again“, in other words, let’s bring back slavery or if we must compromise, then at least segregation. Because let’s be real, for him and those who support him and talk about America and her “greatness“, the era that comes to mind fits into either of those 2 categories. But if I were to attempt to enlighten these folks, Mr. Trump included, that they in fact are trying to continue the cycle of oppression, they would argue that I was in fact the one spewing hate.
This is why as a society we need to wake up and realize that if ever there was a time to speak out, to use whatever platform you have at your disposal to reach as many folks as possible, to begin engaging in authentic, honest and yes, uncomfortable dialogues with the goal of working on actual solutions to address the issues that are plaguing our communities, that time is now!
If you’re a celebrity, an athlete, an actor, singer, etc, why would you not take a minute and express your views when you have an audience that is listening and watching you daily? And why would anyone have an issue with that? The fact that so many folks had an issue with Colin Kaepernick taking a stand on the field was absolutely ridiculous as far as I’m concerned.
If he took a stand off the field, let’s be honest, how much of an impact would that have really made? He had the courage to make a powerful statement when he knew it would it make the most noise, when he knew he would have eyes on him from all walks of life, a diverse crowd that would be forced to think about what he did and why he did it.
And it sparked a much needed dialogue which again, is needed because there’s a large percentage of folks who like to pretend like everything is fine, especially when the majority of people who are speaking out about injustices are “those people“, you know, the people who are the cause of their own oppression. Because, if we’re being real and honest, that’s what a lot of people think about us folks of color who have the audacity to call a spade a spade.
Harry Belafonte said it best during a recent interview with Roland Martin, “When it comes to a black voice being raised in protest to oppression, “those who are comfortable with our oppression are the first to criticize us for daring to speak out against it”.