Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Anti Oppression, anti-Racism Education.

For any person facilitating learning, it will be an incomplete education without the constant presence of anti-oppression, anti racism awareness as part of the program.
“But our family is not racist!” you might be exclaiming.
What you want to consider is that oppression is not only the overt suspicion, dislike and hatred of people of another skin colour or race or gender, or sexual orientation, but it is also the insidious upholding of  negative cultural attitudes against those who do not conform to 'mainstream' portrayal of 'normal,' (read 'best').
Until representation of people who are not white-skin in media becomes the norm, until gender discrimination in the work place and in other institutions like schools is arrested, we are all implicated in the upholding of an oppressive society.
Some will argue (and I am one such person) that if you are not actively challenging racism and oppression, then you are part of the problem.

Have you checked your privilege today?
From images

You can start by examining your own privilege. Whether you have white skin, or you are middle class, or cis-gendered, or able-bodied, or Christian, unschooling etc., it is important to acknowledge how your privilege operates within an oppressive society and what you can do to promote social justice for all.  That's called taking responsibility for our privilege--and acting intentionally to pull down systems of oppression.
It is not enough to think of oneself as exempt from anti-oppression education. Even people of colour for example, need to continue to educate themselves on the issue: we are horrified by the depth to which some people of colour have internalized racism and actually identify with the oppressors!

Many (usually white people) object to 'non-privileged' peoples wishing to retain the use of labels when talking about themselves and their struggles. For example here's a quote from a well-meaning person:
 I can't help but wondering if something isn't lost in all this labeling. What happens in my personal relationships when I focus on who has the power advantage in this category, but not in that category etc.? Doesn't it over-emphasize difference instead of recognizing shared humanity? 
My 17 year old daughter expresses it perfectly:
Labels, when applied by the marginalized, serve to express experiences, shared identity, and systemic oppressions. Recognizing shared humanity is impossible as long as the experiences of groups of humans are informed by an unjust social and political landscape. We do not share humanity while there is injustice; privileged people do not have the right to inform us that our labels are what prevents equality; what prevents equality is the unwillingness of oppressive groups to acknowledge and dismantle their privilege. Only when our rights and opportunities are equal in every respect will our humanity be the only label necessary.
In my next post, I will be reviewing a book about anti-oppression education, so stay tuned! 


Idzie D said...

I love that you're writing about this, and look forward to your next post!

beatrice ekoko said...

Thanks Idzie! Don't know why it's taken me this long!!

Alanya said...

Yes, thanks! Well said and so important (and certainly under-acknowledged in the unschool world as well as the wider world).

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