EDWISE  - EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT
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roots of oppression

Don't wanna hear one more talk show host confess what they're just learning now about oppression against people of colour. They can be heard telling "us" (?ASSUMPTIONS!) that we have to pay more attention and be more sensitive. Making pledges to (finally) use "their platforms" (very rich and privileged) to listen to black and brown people and help making change happen. Really? They didn't know about the difficulties facing working people of colour and migrant workers before? Just had dinner and hope I can keep it down. 

Understanding racism in North America and Europe takes adopting a historical perspective to understand European colonialism. especially the master of racist doctrine, bureaucratic rule, force against "the other" and forced assimilation, British colonialism. Leaders must acknowledge this history if they are to make changes. Some have begun to here in Canada and a few other locations, such as New Zealand, but it is not enough.

I also object to racialized intepretations of events and behavior, from any angle. Racism is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it is a tool of the oppressor to keep people divided and diverted. Relations are so extensively racialized in some loci such as the USA that it is hard to propose non-race explanations. Whatever one's colour, racism is often an excuse or a cited cause for things not working out. People generally have learned it from a variety of sources. It is deeply ingrained in the consciousness. On the other hand, not recognizing the history and not seeing that age-old oppression bearing down on certain sectors because of their place of origin, language, colour and class position is damaging. Race is not real but racialization is. Racist policy and discourse are real. Socially, race is relevant even though genetically it is not. The power relations, the history of one sector beating down others so as to raise themselves up, is true. It does not just happen in the West. Forms of chauvinism, whether religion or nation-based, is a reality of any imperial system, whether monarchical or corporate, colonial or neo-colonial. 

Racism should not and cannot be addressed as a separate problem from the problem of imperialism and oppression against gender and class. There are elements actually complicit in the oppression who may have a black or brown identity but are very happy to have achieved, by hook or by crook, high status and privilege. They want to talk about their oppression as people of colour or a family history originating in Africa. Feminism poses the same problem. True, violence and discrimination cut across class and unity among the sufferers can be achieved to make certain points. All the same, a social analysis that does not see class and admit to empire will fail. 

Why hasn't more legislation to reduce police brutality against people of colour and alleviate the oppression of the most oppressed in the rich countries been realized despite the decades of abuse? If it is a systemic problem, then it cannot be solved by tweaking the law. If it is a systemic problem then it is about democracy, attaining state power and taking the reins of power to reconfigure society and its teachings.

Why to the racial tensions linger, despite all the talk, changes in law, rise of role models, sharing of knowledge...? The answer is the same in the case of women and the poor: there is a lack of (1) political knowledge and orientation and (2) organization. The people need political education informed by experience on the ground, grass roots organization and mobilization in appropriate actions designed for the time and place and means. 

We all need fundamental change to resolve many problems, racism being one, and others being exploitation of working people, inequality and poverty, plunder of indigenous lands, war and destruction of culture and heritage, etc. Systemic change takes political awareness and organization by the people for a new way.

11 Comments to roots of oppression:

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Tohurangi Parekowhai on June 15, 2020 4:19 PM
The main issue here is oppressive structured world, as racism is only a symptom of that oppression (dealing with racism is only putting a band aid on a amputation to stem the bleeding). We need to realise that even before the idea of colonisation or using people of colour as slaves the Royalty & Aristocracy were already oppressing children & peasants etc. As there is a need to address many issues in-depth the main one the is rampant here in New Zealand has always been the Jesus Christ denominations as look how it was spread across the earth by force & violence eg. prime examples D Trump clearing peaceful protesters with force to wave the Bible at the world & Israel the once abuse people (Jews)now becoming the abusers aiming for the genocide of another people.I have a personal experience of how ingrained religious oppression is a part of societal norms. Here in New Zealand similar to Canada where other race' of people are better treated than indigenous people to what Kiwis (Have's) portray to the world so they can hide in plain sight. I believe in Carl Jung' Collective Unconsciousness, as that is what is happening in the world. Where every person knows subconsciously that the way world leaders & Money more important than people, ecosystems, with no respect for the planet that sustains life how can we expect respect toward each other as human beings equally. Not sure if right place to put my views as being Maori in New Zealand we are the invisible people that as one of our prime ministers said in a tv interview Maori' are a "bunch of bloody bludgers" Robert Muldoon late 1970' and the attitude still exists within this Nation.
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