Confronting Oppression

Hi Allies,

Meredith Clark writes for the Tallahassee Democrat. Recently in her column, she referenced a satement from a reader who seldom reads her because of her “black bias”. That comment has spent a good deal of time in my head since I read it. Well, today’s blog is that “time spent” now finding some words. Thus, I’m going to ramble a bit and you are welcome to join me.

I think the notion of waiving my need or desire to read something because of a “black bias” of the writer is an unfortunate reflection of our unconscious racially distorted American Story. Let me deal with one part of that story. Seldom have I heard someone announce that they no longer read George Will because of his “white bias” or for that matter, fail to listen to Chris Matthews because of his “white bias”. How about this similar elaboration on that theme: ” I no longer read Garrison Keillor because of his “Minnesota Bias”. I know I could go on, but my point is: sleeping within that statement of “black bias” is once again the alignment of “black” with distortion, fabrication, exaggeration, and sadly, being just plain wrong.

Oppression is built upon an architecture that certain groups of people hold all the cards of intellect, truth, value, and morality. It sustains that entitlement through policies, practices, and an obvious contortion of thinking,that one group holds a supreme position in humanness and thus all the cards should indeed be in their hands. Plenty of evidence of policy and practices within the government, economics, social services, religion, etc can be accumulated to verify that point. However, it also sustains dominance and the resulting privilege for Whites (yes, let me speak directly regarding the context of dominance) at the expense of People of Color in yet another invisible unconscious manner.

So, the notion of “Black bias” as a means to disregard a point of view, a voice, a way of seeing and/or feeling about something written is an unconscious privilege for which Whites can continue to remain comfortably numb about our own participation in the system of oppression. I believe that some white people, not all, but some unfortunately, will nod and agree as they might have read that rationality of “Black bias”. That nod allows in the future a waiver from reading the next words or dismissing another voice of someone who isn’t white.

I’m reminded of the Sotomayer concern for her appointment on the Supreme Court because of the possible bias of her Latino roots. We didn’t hear about the white roots of Judge Roberts when he was appointed did we?

OK, I’ve rambled a bit. I live in a world now that I seek that voice being raised that is different from mine. I read intentionally to understand a bias that I may indeed not hold in order to see perhaps more clearly the world. The socialization process of my white, male, heterosexual, educated, and temporarily abled bodied identity has covered my eyes and ears with a veil (thank you WEB Dubois)that presents the world to me in a way that sustains oppression.

Copernicus did not discover any new observable facts. From where we stand, the sun and planets still SEEM to revolve around the earth. But his work did create a new understanding of truth regardless of what seems to be a reality. The work we do in schools is to help young people create a critical consciousness about themselves and as well the world in which they live,a consciousness that also serves well to confront all forms of oppression.

And now it’s your turn…….

Stay peaceful and perhaps the world will follow your example.