The Normalization of Oppression

Prejudice is cultivated and discrimination becomes commonplace.

Oppressed are silenced – the oppressed must internalize the oppression, feel bad about themselves and their situation so that they are no longer able to speak to it or about it, distrust their voice and the truth they have to speak; when the oppressed do speak out, they are labeled as ‘aggressive,’ ‘overly sensitive,’ ‘angry,’ and discounted; the dominant group becomes afraid to speak out because of the social pressure against it, the threat of losing family and friends, and separating themselves from the white group

Power to the oppressed is invisible – the oppressed must begin to identify more with the dominant group than with their own group and as a result lose a sense of their collective power; the dominant group must assume their right to power along with the myth that power is individual and everyone who works hard can have the same power they do; or the dominant group must act as if they don’t have power as white people and deny the power that they get just by belonging to the white group

“The Condition of Black Life Is One of Mourning” by Claudia Rankine

White Privilege

  • “an invisible knapsack of special provisions and blank checks” (Peggy McIntosh)
  • the default; “to be white in America is not to have to think about it” (Robert Terry)
  • expect to be seen as an individual; what we do never reflects on the white race
  • we can choose to avoid the impact of racism without penalty
  • we live in a world where our worth and personhood as white people are continually validated
  • although hurt by racism, we can live just fine without ever having to deal with it 


Implicit Bias

Implicit Bias Test


When a woman makes 2/3 of what a man makes, it is institutionalized sexism, When 1 out of 4 African American men are in jail or on probation, it is institutionalized racism, etc. Consider that dominant culture also controls the language itself used to describe all groups in society and can make things visible or invisible when necessary. Other examples/things to consider are the “War on Drugs” instead of “War on Poverty”, as well as an expanded definition of violence and how violence towards targeted groups happens at a systemic level.



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