Social Oppression Is An Epidemic In Our Culture

In a land that professes to be a place for “the free and the brave,” we have a society that is full of the “oppressed and the scared.”  We read in the Times Dispatch where several employees of Henrico County Public Schools spoke out about living and working in fear for their jobs.  They voiced how this fear drives them to silence, even when they know that they lives of children are in danger or that the welfare of a peer is compromised by those that are the “oppressors.”  

Why Henrico’s board and superintendent are sleeping at night, knowing that they are cultivating an atmosphere of fear that will not even stand up to save the life of a child is unknown to us.  They should be ashamed of themselves.  Only bullies and dictators rule through fear.

Our hearts go out to those employees in Henrico County Public Schools that are working and living in fear on a daily basis.  While we thought that Henrico had an anti-bullying policy, evidently, it does not apply to the employees and workplace of the district.  

How can we ever teach our children to face their fears, not give in to negative peer pressure, stand up even if you have to stand alone, or that a job or money is not as important as pleasing God and being a good person?  How can we teach them CHARACTER when those leading the district, teaching in the classroom, and sitting on the board don’t have it and are making no effort to get it.  

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.— Ambrose Redmoon.

We can tell that Henrico County Public Schools is suffering from a culture of social oppression under the leadership of the present superintendent and board.  Social oppression does not allow for justice, integrity, or equality, which is what this district professes in public, hypocritically, but denies and stifles in private.

Social oppression is a societal dysfunction that is defined as, “…when one social group, whether knowlingly or unconsciously, exploits another social group for its own benefit.  Social oppression is distinct froma situation of simple brute force in that it is an interlocking system that involves ideological control as ell as domination and control of social institutions and resources of the society, resulting in  a condition of privilege for the agent group relative to the disenfranchisement and exploitation of the target gooup.    Oppression is not simply an ideology or set of beliefs that assert one group’s superiority ofver antoerh, not is it random violence, harassment, or discrimination toward members of target groups.  A considtion of social oppression exists when the following elements are in place:

  • The oppressing group has the power to define and name reality and determine what is “normal,”  “real,” or “correct.”  This reality is always skewed to make the oppressor look good and go unquestioned
  • Harassment, discrimination, exploitation, marginalization, and other forms of differential and unequal treatment are institutionalized and systematic.  These acts often do not require the conscious thought or effort of individual members of the oppressing group, but are rather part of business as usual that become embedded in social structures over time.
  • Psychological colonization of the target group occurs through socializing the oppressed to internalize their oppressed condition and collude with the oppressor’s ideology and social system.  THis is what Freire refers to as the oppressed playing “host” to the opressor.
  • The oppressed group culture, language, and history is misrepresented, discounted, or eradicated and the dominant group’s culture is imposed. (Teaching Diversity and Social Justice, Adams, Bell, and Griffin)
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.  We must always take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”  Elie Wiesel
The tide is turning and those that remain silent have already chosen the enemy’s side against our children…….KEEP UP THE NERVE!

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