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Resistance to Oppression

Essay by   •  November 10, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  1,954 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,335 Views

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Currently in the United States various forms of oppression afflict people of color everyday. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has been trying to amend this problem since the early 20th century. Their organization has defined oppression as confining minorities to the lower limit and outer edge in political, social, and economic aspects of life (Martin). The first strategy of resistance their organization should try to incorporate is education. Lawrence Blum, a philosophical writer for racial resistance, highlights three big points in his essay "Three Educational Values For a Multicultural Society." He states that the problems in our society can only be overcome by first educating our youth in a different way that stresses antiracism, multiculturalism, and a sense of community (565). If the systemic structures of racism are to be overcome people need to be educated in a way that does not promote keeping oppression in place. The second strategy of resistance that the NAACP should adopt is coalition. Manning Marable, who wrote an essay called "Beyond Racial Identity Politics: Toward a Liberation Theory for Multicultural Democracy," stated that only by joining forces with other people of color can African Americans gain freedom from systemic oppression (717). By examining these theories in a closer context, it will be easier to see how these theories fit an overall resistance plan for the NAACP that will conform with how they define oppression.

Since the NAACP defines oppression as the marginalization of people of color, the first step to getting them into the system is by abolishing the system from its foundation. By this I mean that the NAACP needs to work for changing the curriculum in schools to advocate the teaching of antiracism, multiculturalism, and a sense of community. Blum states that institutional and social racism need to be rejected (566). The social aspect refers to overt racist actions and attitudes, but the institutional aspect is the attitudes that people may not be consciously aware of that support the higher status of one racial group over another (Blum 567). To eliminate this from the structure in the U.S. it is important to educate the youth against these ideas. If the youth can be reached and taught those three key values, then the racist structure in the U.S. will begin to break down. Antiracism must be taught in schools from an early age, and this also includes teaching and promoting racial justice. Blum would say that it is insufficient in only promoting positive attitudes; one must also support the elimination of evil (567). Children need to be taught how to recognize, confront, and oppose racism whenever they encounter it. He also says that it is not enough for an individual to learn to be nonracist themselves; they must also learn the context of racism as a psychological and historical circumstance (Blum 568). The psychological aspect of racism includes stereotyping, allocating privilege to certain groups, and promoting fear because of difference. The historical aspect

includes the dynamics of slavery, discrimination, segregation, and colonization. If the youth do not receive a historical education that explains all sides of the events, then the Euro-centric view will dominate, and antiracism will not be understood in the proper context. Education in an all-encompassing view leads to the need for the teaching of multiculturalism in schools as well.

Multiculturalism contains three key components: learning about one's own culture and valuing it, desiring to learn about foreign cultures, and valuing cultural diversity as a positive component of society (Blum 570). Learning about one's own cultural identity is critical in starting a multicultural education. If a person understands the culture that they belong to they will be more likely to respect other cultures for being different. When people look at other cultures they need to see them in that culture's perspective. Blum was arguing that it is not necessary to agree with every aspect of another culture, but it is necessary to respect it (571). By seeing and respecting cultures in their view it teaches the third concept of valuing overall diversity within society. Blum gave an example of how a significant figure like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. needs to be taught in a multicultural way. He said that either he is currently presented as a leading figure to the black community or as a leading contributor to humanity. Blum says that both need to be emphasized at the same time to encompass his accomplishments for all cultures (573). Multicultural education teaches how different cultures influence full society as well as their own culture as an individual culture. By teaching in that way it establishes a connection of common knowledge and experience with all cultures, which is key to resistance.

Both multiculturalism and antiracism are built upon group membership, but the concepts behind them promote two different but complimenting ideas. Multiculturalism serves to promote the often neglected and discarded contributions of minority groups to society, while antiracism works to clear the path so that minority groups may make meaningful contributions (Blum 576). Antiracism helps protect the similarities between different people, while multiculturalism highlights differences so they can be seen and respected. When both of these values are taught to the youth they will learn to recognize the equal dignity between all people and respect their differences at the same time. This will lead to a greater sense of community.

Creating a sense of community among all cultures is the final step in completing a multicultural education. The sense of community that Blum is suggesting is a sense of bonding between individuals that comes through shared knowledge and experiences in a situation. This can happen at a school, neighborhood, or workplace. The people in this interracial community should be involved with each other in activities that promote the loyalty of the community and help everyone to experience members of other races. This shared experience further promotes the ideals of antiracism and multiculturalism by having active interaction between different races where people learn to appreciate and respect the differences in the group and look at each member as a unique individual.

To accomplish these tasks the NAACP needs to contact the Washington Bureau and advocate for a change in America's educational system. They need to activate lobbies in D.C. and speak with congressmen to pass a bill that will activate a plan for multicultural education. When the youth of America become educated with multiculturalism, the way they think and see the world will differ from any other generation on this world. When the way people think changes

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