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Anti-Oppression Work

September 30, 2010

Imagine that sexual violence is a tree. If we cut the tree down, it will still grow. Instead of cutting it down we must focus on the roots of the tree to eradicate sexual violence.

At the root of sexual violence is oppression. To work on oppression seems like a very daunting and sometimes scary task. Here are a few simple ways to help end oppression.

10 Ways to work on issues of Oppression:
1. Understand what oppression is. Google oppression, look it up, talk to others about it.

2. Educate Yourself. Find suggested reading on the topic of oppression. Don’t expect others to give you a Cliff Notes version of information regarding a certain group or culture. It’s important to do the leg work yourself.

3. Gather friends and family and start a book club reading books pertaining to oppression, OR

4. Get your co-workers together and start an anti-oppression work group. Oppression is everywhere; address issues common in your workplace. Ask for feedback from others on how you’re doing.

5. Monitor your language. What kind of language are you using at work and at home? Are you using oppressive language such as: “That’s so gay!” or the N-word or “That’s a lame excuse!” or “You’re such a retard!”

6. Challenge someone’s oppressive language or actions. For example, you might say, “I’m offended by your use of the word, retard, to describe your friend. Would you like my help in selecting a healthier word?” or simply “can you pick another word?”

7. Monitor yourself. Are you using power and control with your family or co-workers? Do you point out others mistakes or take over the conversation in meetings. Again, ask others to call you on your slip-ups.

8. Don’t make assumptions about another group or culture. Check out your information; then ask questions. Ask what culture someone is from, do they identify as Native, Native American, Indian, or Mdewakanton.

9. Think of the privilege you have as a white woman, a straight male, a rich male? Privilege is when you have ‘rights’ that you don’t even think about, it’s just a common right for you. For example, you can shop, eat, and get educated wherever you want without thinking about it – you have class privilege.

10. Get to know your own culture and ethnicity. Some people may not have any idea of what their ethnicity is. Learn more about your culture than what different foods you eat on holidays.
Good luck on your work on ending oppression. Remember starting the task is always the hardest thing to do. Dig in, the results are so rewarding! Working together we can make a difference!

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