This week in our readings I was struck by how much I wrestled with the “calls to action” presented to me, with specific emphasis on the Pedagogy of the Oppressed. It somewhat baffles me that this pedagogy calls for the oppressed to rise up and overtake their oppressors and liberate not only themselves but also their oppressors because they’re the only ones with the power to break through this cycle of dehumanization. While this is an interesting concept, I believe that this narrative is damaging to those who are oppressed. In my eyes it’s unfair to place this weight of salvation upon the oppressed who have already been so robbed of their humanity through systems of oppression that they struggle to find the will and power to come together and even attempt uprisings in the first place. How much more exhausting must it be to bear the additional force of needing to save the very people who have stripped you of your humanity? I can agree with the fact that the pedagogy created needs to be created by and for the oppressed; however, I believe it’s a dangerous thing to try and give the oppressed the task of saving their oppressors. Here is a link discussing some critiques of the Pedagogy of the Oppressed (I specifically found section 2, ‘The Oppressed-Oppressor Dichotomy’ section interesting)

Another train of thought that connects for me to the bell hooks reading is the discussion on allyship and what makes a good ally.  bell hooks discusses how black/poc bodies are not given the position or platform to be able to speak on these race issues because if they do they’re seen as a fanatic;meanwhile, their while counterparts are praised for such efforts. Additionally, in the Pedagogy of the Oppressed it is also brought up that far too often white people who have become aware and know of their whiteness and their position as oppressor they do too much and do not trust the poc bodies to be able to organize and gain their freedom. This topic of allyship is a tricky one because theres a fine line between being an ally and doing something to progress your own standings or social capital; however, I think the genuineness spoken of is a good first step to helping rectify this situation. Be genuine in your actions and be aware of the space you’re taking.

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One response »

  1. amberwoopdeedoo says:

    Thanks for this post. I appreciated the critique you posted’s insight into the falsity of the “oppressor/oppressed” dichotomy. We are all at once oppressor and oppressed, to different extents and in different capacities, both within ourselves and externally. When I think about it within myself, I know that in order to reach liberation, the parts of me I deem to be “oppressed” both from other parts of myself, and from the outside, can only be truly liberated if they take power back, and if they take responsibility for their own liberation. It’s not fair, its a lot of work, and it seems the only way it can truly happen. I hope this adds nuance to your argument. I would love to know what you think of this perspective.

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