It’s a new year, 2015, and we have much to be grateful for. Our health, our families and friends, and all the other pieces of life that make us smile, and sometimes groan. The new year offers us an opportunity to keep doing the same thing as the previous, or do something differently. After some reflection or contemplation, we may decide that staying with the current status is good enough, or not.
The label of “revolution”
For those in some aspect of counter-culture movement toward equity, maybe we can take a period of reflection and decide if our perceived revolution is simply a different angle or smaller imprint of the status quo of inequity. For example, some of us who have been involved in “social justice” struggles may be tired of dealing with the sexist attitudes of our male colleagues who promote racial and class equity but grow their egos by disrespecting females. If you have been involved in ANY movement, you know this pattern. The same goes with those involved with class struggles who time and time again practice racial inequity- talking down to racial/ethnic minorities. The white liberals who feel that their progressive stand on racial equity erase their white-skin privilege might also take a look at their continued participation in racial inequity when they claim their struggles are equal to those of people of color. There are others…the anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-elderly behaviors many of us practice while participating in our favorite issue of social change. Many of us have lost sight of the different nodes making up the network of oppression that stifles all of us thereby binding us together in oppression. This network of oppression will continue to exist, made up of all the factors of injustice, until all the factors are challenged to accomplish a social transformation.
A network of freedom
This type of social transformation- of all the factors- will result in a network of freedom for all. Each node or factor making up these multiple oppressions must be unraveled so its energy supports the freedom of the other for a new network to take effect-a network of freedom. These structures that allow injustices to grow- based on class, race/ethnicity, neighborhood, gender, sexual orientation, place of birth, language, spirituality, physical and mental ability- allow for the age-old human need to find self-worth through demeaning another human form. Yes, we stand on the backs of our sisters and brothers so we can appear taller to ourselves and others. A deep reflection in this new year is to consciously become more aware of the times we demean someone else in order to make ourselves feel more powerful or better. Such a violating path toward happiness and self-appreciation causes harm to others. The structures of social hierarchies or network of oppression-racism, classism, sexism, etc- offer each individual a way to make themselves feel superior to another, for each one of us maintain multiple identities within society. A white female has white-skin privilege in the very moment she may be demeaned by a male while a black male has male privilege in the same moment he is demeaned by a white-skinned individual. And so it goes for all the different ways we walk through this lifetime. And no, there is no math that can add up the “oppression” score and rank us within this violating system. But maybe you get the idea? This awareness and undoing of the personal hierarchies and violations will offer us insight into the larger social hierarchies and oppressions and allow a more truthful and connected revolutionary movement.
It’s up to us…to commit to a new year with new awareness, alertness, and ardency. We can begin to transform an oppressive society toward one of equity and freedom when we are conquering the very seeds growing in us that we say we want to uproot in society.
May we all dive, step, stand, sit in freedom, together!