“Human beings are so made that the ones who do the crushing feel nothing; it is the person crushed who feels what is happening. Unless one has placed oneself on the side of the oppressed, to feel with them, one cannot understand.”
The riots going on in France, and April’s post both started my mind turning. How would I explain the oppression that I have felt? Yes I have been discriminated against just based on my skin color, several times. Some of those times were pretty clear racism, some I try to think as just people being ignorant and just not knowing any better. The damage in all situations is the same and the feeling is not a good one, but how to describe it to someone that has not experienced it can be a tough thing to do.
I came up with a simple explanation. We can all remember at one time or another when we were kids playing in the playground. Kids can be very cruel because they are not equipped with the sensibility to accounts someone else’s feelings when they say things. When we are adults we try to incorporate that sensibility into our personalities. At least I hope must of us do. Remember when other kids were being cruel and that hurt our feelings in some way, something about your Mother, or the way you looked, your clothes, etc. That was a horrible feeling, insecurity, fear and eventually anger. That is what oppression feels like, some people grow up and never have to experience those feelings again. People that are oppressed feel that way every single day of their lives.
I found a great resource about anger. It states “Anger is an emotion that centers on getting control.” When people feel oppressed, they feel mostly like they have lost control. Eventually after years of oppression someone can become so full of anger that it turns into hate and then despair. It is hard to relate to some of those situations because there are so many levels of it. I try to empathize with people in oppressed situations and while I have experienced racism I am lucky enough not to have to experience it every day. I cannot comprehend what someone that feels oppressed every single day must feel like, but I do know that they will eventually explode of pure anger. I am not sure if after reading this you feel like you understand oppression any better… Do you feel like you understand the word?