Sweeping Oppression Under the Rug.

Due to an earlier conversation that I entertained with a neighbor, I had a short Twitter rant. The conversation was about individual agency, collective agency and whether or not movements can make a difference. His position was a firm no. He argued that because people hold so little power, systems of oppression will continue to exist. Even my references to the Civil Rights Movement didn't seem to inspire him.

I explained that complacency certainly doesn't change anything, and by
not taking a stance, he is indeed affirming his contentment with the exploitation and oppression of others. Inaction is a political position. People who sweep issues under the rug by going about their lives as if all things are peachy, really, really bug me (to keep it PG).

After some thought, I realized that my neighbor's negativity spawned from a sense of powerlessness, a characteristic of many people who are a part of oppressed groups. For some reason, people believe that they have to be a larger-than-life figure to make a difference, forgetting the stories of all of the individuals who came together for a righteous cause. We can't all be Malcolm X, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Peter Singer, Che Guevara, Fred Hampton or Huey Newton. However, we can all make small adjustments to our lifestyles to be sure we aren't monetary advocates of injustice. Money is power and being aware of what you're supporting should be a law of activism.

Aside from being conscious of where your money goes, there are plenty of ways to change the world: Be a mentor. Volunteer. Vote. Educate others about oppression through the arts (fine art, poetry, song, Hip Hop) and inspire change. Boycott businesses with exploitative practices. It's fairly easy to use your energy for good. Rise up! [against racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, speciesism, etc.]

I'll leave you with a thought by Martin Niemöller:

When the Nazis came for the Communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a Communist.

When they locked up the Social Democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a Social Democrat.

When they came for the Trade Unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Trade Unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

1 Engage in Discourse:

Anonymous said...

I feel you Ain. I find that people are being played like ponds and don't realise it. They are dumb down by TV, internet, Media, Print, etc. One of my biggest issues these days is that this generation has no cause, when there are still so many social, economical, political and racial problems which exist.


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