Systems of Oppression

Systems: an organized way of doing things

Oppression: prolonged, unjust treatment

Where does oppression systematically happen?

Institutionally —> laws, education, etc.

Economically —> banks, capitalism, etc.

Socially —> hierarchal structures in society

Individually —> interpersonal interactions (values, beliefs about certain people, etc.)

Internally —> internalizing oppression, self-hate, etc.

In order for systems of oppression to exist, there needs to be:

An oppressor and an oppressed person.

  • Oppressors have power and privilege (unearned benefits)

  • Oppressed people experience prejudice (thoughts) and discrimination (actions)

Oppression is directed towards a certain group of people, informed by history, has an associated ism/phobia, and is upheld, in part, by language…

For example:

  • a system of oppression based on race (let’s use the example of Black people)

  • There is a history of racism (slavery, Jim Crow, etc.)

  • Racism is the associate ism

  • Language: nigger

Who is the oppressor in this scenario? Who has power and privilege as it pertains to race?

Can you think of other…

  • oppressors

  • oppressed groups

  • their history

  • the associated ism/phobia

  • language associated with their oppression

Oppression cannot be reversed but it can be nuanced.

To suggest oppression can be reversed is to suggest white people do not have power and privilege, have a history that informs their oppression and have certain language associated with their oppression.

We know this to be false.

Nuance means: you can be both an oppressor and an oppressed person.

Oppression is intentional. It is a form of social control.

Oppression can show up overtly like the use of derogatory language and physical violence or covertly like microaggressions.

Microaggressions are everyday actions and behaviors that have harmful effects on oppressed groups.

  • Unlike other forms of discrimination, the perpetrator of a microaggression may or may not be aware of the harmful effects of their behavior and the victim of the microagression may not be able to pinpoint exactly what was harmful about it