“Internalized Oppression Definition: When people are oppressed in an ongoing manner for a long time, they come to believe the stereotypes and myths about their own group that are communicated by the dominant group. They accept and replicate the negative image of themselves and take in their lesser status as being deserved, normal and certain.”
Two Oppressive Forces that Contribute to Internalized Oppression
- The American Educational System
- The Police Force
The basic beliefs of an individual are typically ingrained in early childhood. These beliefs form a foundation for how one perceives life. Additionally, since the messages come from trusted people, there is less of a reason to question the information. Thus, internalization occurs from the moment a child is born.
The lives of the oppressed groups are controlled by the governing groups. Therefore, oppressed individuals find no worth or possibility in trying to develop self-knowledge. They learn who they are and who they should be based on the needs of and through the perspective of the dominant groups. In addition to the absence of self-awareness, the continuous pounding of inferiority on their minds leads them to lose much of their self-worth and self-respect.
The American Educational System
Aronson says that schools are oppressive and set up to fail. “He is referring to the culture and structural obstacles that can inhibit effective teaching, stifle student success, and sustain inequalities on numerous fronts.”
For example, in urban schools there is a growing cultural mismatch. Mounting intellectual differences tend to hinder teachers from developing meaningful relationships with their students. This disconnect leads to over discipling. For example, (Racial Bias in the Classroom.) A 2014 report showed that black children make up only 18% of preschooler but make up 48% of children suspended. They discovered that teachers increase the severity of suggested disciplinary actions when the race of the teacher did not match the child.
I was a classroom teacher for nine years in Jefferson County Kentucky. The school culture was to give new teacher the most challenging students. I was told this would make a better teacher. I was an inexperience teacher thrust into a classroom of twenty-four children. Each child vying for attention using disruptive behavior to have their way.
On many occasions I saw young inexperienced White females attempt to teach urban youth who came from the Ghetto. Most days it was like living in an urban jungle where everyone was trying to survive. I viewed teachers as oppressors who used their classrooms as a platform to gain some sense of control. Classrooms were places where teachers demanded attention from students who were unable to adhere to the classroom rules. One year, there was a massive exodus of teachers from my school. Teaching was not what they thought it would be.
In my opinion, The American Educational System is a system of oppression. It oppresses the natural abilities of black children and use one type of intelligence to determine one’s intellectual ability. During my tenure of nine years, teaching children how to pass a test and perform for standardized test was the goal of education. This was not what I signed on for, so consequently I walked away.
The Other Oppressive Force is the Police.
Policing in America was never created to protect and serve the masses. It cannot be reformed because it is designed for violence. Through the use of selective enforcement and brutal arrest tactics the black community fears the police. Consequently, the use of oppressive force in the Black community is hardly ever deemed wrong. During the last decade we saw police who killed unarmed black men and women walk free from this tragedy.
Consciousness Raising: Two Key Points
- Recognition of One’s Potential and Qualities as an Individual
- Determine the Nature of Change You Want
The first thing we as a collective black body must understand is to be aware of the oppressive forces and how they impact our daily life.
Part of the effect of living with Internalized Oppression is you cannot solve your problems or be part of the solution to the global problems that we are faced with today. There is hurt and anger and rage.
You can begin to transmute these powerful forces. Black people are some of the most creative people on the planet. See the rage and transmute it. Look to see how you have internalized your oppression. You can choose how you will respond in the face of these two powerful forces, but as a parent and a youth.
Nelson Mandela states. “If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you,” “If you do not bring forth what is within you, what is within your will destroy you.”
Realize that some situations you cannot control. Have the wisdom to know what you have control over. You have control over how you respond in the face of injustice.