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  • Writer's pictureLex Enrico Santí, LCSW, MFA


Pt. 4 in a series on oppression...

​We often hear from individuals in the media or worse, in social media, examples of when a member of an excluded group: African American, for example, throws a punch at a white man. There are examples of this with colorful memes and such that rile up supporters against Black Lives Matter. This, tragically, is part of our next lesson. The difference between discrimination and an ISM.

Oppression works in a single direction. Discrimination works both ways. Oppression works as a system which flows from the top, like a waterfall. I love waterfalls, I live close to dozens of them. I just don't want to be under a waterfall. Why? There's simply too much power directly underneath. It crashes down on you because the concentration of force directly falls on you. It's a wondrous thing to look at from a distance.

Oppression works like that. Once you are at the bottom of a waterfall, it is nearly impossible to climb back up the waterfall, to get to the top. You would need someone sitting atop the waterfall to create an environment that would allow you to then climb up tot he top of the mountain. Imagine, if you're from around Ithaca, hundreds of people diverting the water from the mighty Taughannock that

A lot of times examples are used of discrimination where a single incident of brutality in the opposite direction, a woman killing a man, an African American slaying a white person, is equated to an example of oppression. It is not. You can't account for thousands of years of oppressive tactics which included state decisions, religious doctrines, control from insitittuoins and equate that to a punch being thrown or Charlize Theron's character in Monster. It just isn't the same.

Don't get me wrong. These are heinous and horrible crimes, but they are not oppression. Oppression is a system. Oppression is what bore out the genocide of the native peoples of America, it was built on ideology, media, legal system, and so on and so on. Oppression is decades worth of complaints that go unnoticed while baseball and football teams have mascots that are blatantly racist against the native Americans.

Acts of discrimination can happen both ways. Everyone discriminates against one another in some fashion, it's the subject object thing that we were talking about earlier. It is part of the human condition that we should discern one from the other. This is, in a sense, to discriminate then--again, we all discriminate. However, having preferences that then are rewarded one from from the other and the very life is lost or cut short because of that preference on a mass scale, that is the root of oppression. Thanks all.

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