Opposing Oppression: A step by step process

Step 1: Exposure

Goal: Awareness

Every journey against oppression begins with exposure. The initial goal is to become aware that there is a problem.

This can be brought to our attention by news reports, movies, conversations, seminars, personal experience. The main characteristic of exposure is that we become aware of a situation that we were not previously aware of.

If you’re part of the oppressed group in question this is usually not a problem.

If you are part of the group in power, the normal reaction is to prevent exposure by filtering your experiences by controlling where you live or work, what you read or watch and how you believe or take seriously what you do see.

Step 2: Conviction

Goal: Commitment

Once you become aware of injustice in a particular area you can still consider it as something apart from your area of responsibility and response. We do that by failing to acknowledge any responsibility or complicity in the evil that is being perpetrated, often on our behalf, and by claiming to have no power to make any changes in the system that sustains us.

Conviction leads us to accept the responsibility and the power to initiate these changes and will lead to a commitment to pursue a path of resisting oppression.

Step 3: Education

Goal: Understanding

Making a commitment however is only the first step in the process. Trying to resist an oppression that is an intimate part of our upbringing and environment is a counter-intuitive process. We cannot always rely on what we think we know and cannot trust our instincts and reactions to chart an effective strategy against injustice and oppression.

We have to relearn the historical, cultural and political antecedents of oppression and redefine our role in the process. Without a methodical and thorough process of education and training, we will most likely unintentionally cause more harm than good.

Step 4: Accountability

Goal: Community

The battle against oppression is not an individual one. Systems and institutions were created by groups of people and can only be changed by intentional community and systemic action.

We need to develop lines of accountability on different levels. Accountability to our fellow oppressors to keep us motivated, accountability to those we oppress to gage the impact of our actions and accountability to other communities and institutions for mutual encouragement and education.

The more connections we build the more accurately we can track our journey through this process.

Step 5: Witness

Goal: Transformation

This process is not only for our edification. Like any vessel that fills to overflowing we are expected to bear constant witness to others of our commitment to this process, sharing our successes and our defeats, what we learn and what we are called to do.

In doing so, we can become instruments of transformation in those that are ready to hear the word and plant seeds in those that may not be ready at this time.

If this is helpful, use it giving credit to CWAC Movement, Anti-Oppression Team.

We do this work not for them. We do this work because all our humanity is interwoven and interdependent and when one suffers, we all suffer.

We must change this white supremacy story.

"Hope will never be silent."

~ Harvey Milk