Mar 14, 2013 - Issue 508

Internalizing Our Own Oppression


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“What matters is not to know the world but to change it.”   
- Frantz Fanon

“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”  
- Rosa Luxemburg

Oppression, more often than not, is both physical as well as psychological.

Moreover, oppression has many forms and manifestations. Unfortunately however, while many manifestations of oppression are readily recognized, its causal factors often are not.

The physical and psychological oppression of everyday ordinary Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people is based in systemic economic, social, and political exploitation. In other words, the causal factors of this oppression are by systemic design.

Joblessness, homelessness, corporate greed and hegemony, police brutality, judicial injustice, massive incarceration of the poor, and perpetual wars abroad - are all forms of systemic exploitation. This systemic exploitation is part and parcel of the daily oppression endured by the vast majority of everyday people. Another strategic component of this oppression by the power elite who own, operate, and manipulate this political system - is the propagation and perpetuation of the fallacious narrative - that says poor and oppressed people are themselves responsible for being exploited by the avaricious national and global power elite. This is the systemic narrative that infers that people are poor, oppressed, and massively exploited due to their own innate character flaws. This is the systemic narrative of convenience which ingrains people to internalize their own oppression. This what Frantz Fanon meant when he said, “The oppressed will always believe the worst about themselves.” The fact is that everyday ordinary people are systemically ingrained to “believe the worst about themselves.”

By internalizing our own oppression we help to perpetuate it by failing to recognize its systemic causal factors. In so doing we fail to grasp the meaning of Frantz Fanon's  words: “What matters is not to know the world but to change it.” And in order to “change it” we must first recognize the external and internal national and global systemic causal factors of our oppression.

In succumbing to the interminable propaganda of the national and global corporate-stream media and the Democrat & Republican parties and their systemic gatekeepers, we are by default, internalizing our own oppression. It does not have to be this way – but reversing this internalization of our own oppression begins with each of us individually and collectively. Once this process of recognizing and reversing our own internalized oppression begins – it can spread like a cleansing prairie fire.

When we everyday ordinary people fail to critically think, we also fail to recognize the primary systemic causal factors of our political, economic, and social oppression; and in so doing, we neglect to “move” to take the much-needed substantive actions in order to bring about an end to our systemic oppression. Rosa Luxemburg correctly noted that, “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” And it should be remembered that these “chains” are by systemic design, not by osmosis. 

Systemic oppression must be seen for precisely what it is: A deliberate and callous dis-empowering of everyday people. Nevertheless, we ordinary people, are the ones who hold the keys to our own systemic liberation – both mental and physical. We must make a conscious and constant effort to, be aware of and reject, the internalization of our own oppression. We must collectively be, both determined and creative, as we struggle to bring about real systemic change and a more just and humane society and world based on human need, not corporate greed and exploitation!

As always: Each one, reach one. Each one, teach one. And in the immortal words of Joe Hill, “Don't Mourn. ORGANIZE!”  

Onward, then, my sisters and brothers. Onward!    Editorial Board member and Columnist, Larry Pinkney, is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil / political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities in opposition to voter suppression, etc., Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS News Hour, formerly known as The MacNeil / Lehrer News Hour. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. (Click here to read excerpts from the book.) Click here to view Larry’s interview of October 26, 2012. Click here to contact Mr. Pinkney.