It was incredibly liberating to read Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. As someone who is incredibly interested in social justice and community organizing it hit on a lot of topics that I am really interested in, such as oppression, the non-profit industrial complex, power dynamics, liberation, and education. The chapter addressed the complexities of oppression. More specifically, how oppression is a systemic factor that works against disenfranchised communities. This is done through power dynamics, policies, and structures.

From my experiences, people tend to think of oppression as interpersonal but not as a system. Freire brought up systemic bias in the chapter, which is incredibly common in American society. Often systems of oppression are justified through the use of science. A historical example of this is when “scientists” used Eugenics to justify racism. Eugenics set the precedent that white people are superior to people of color and justified institutional oppression on the basis of science. This is still seen in modern day society but in a more covert manner. Lots of studies and research done about humans are done on a very homogenized group of people, typically western, white, rich, straight, and cisgender. The results of these studies are then forced upon everyone, regardless of whether they fit the criteria that the subjects suggested. Additionally, when subjects might not be as homogenized there is bias in the ways researchers conduct their research. Yale released a study indicating scientists are not immune to bias in their research, especially when it comes to gender bias. Unfortunately the consequences of this turns into institutionalized oppression.

It is important to challenge systems and dynamics that perpetuate oppression, including science.

Links to more information:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics_in_the_United_States

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institutional_racism

http://news.yale.edu/2012/09/24/scientists-not-immune-gender-bias-yale-study-shows

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