Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Teaching About Oppression – Brief Video with Legos

| 2 Comments

I tweeted out this video explaining the 4 I’s of Oppression (Ideological, Institutional, Interpersonal and Internalized) explained with LEGOS!

People liked it a lot (thanks to my new friend Andre for sharing it with me) so I thought I’d post it on my blog so it’s easier to find it again. What I love about this video is it tackles so many dimensions of the matrix of oppression as it explains all the I’s, including ones missing from the matrix of oppression (like Islamophobia and ableism). Here, it’s less than 4 minutes:

There is a side thought that came to me as I watched this video, and I’m not sure if I’m thinking about it right… but here it is.

The terms “Islamophobia” and “xenophobia” and “homophobia” versus the terms “sexism” and “racism” and such. There isn’t, I think, a term that encapsulates the oppression of colonized/imperialized people, is there?

Anyway, actually, my point was the “phobias” vs the “isms”. It’s making me think… about how the “phobias” make them seem more tame, like they are a pathological fear, such that the person who is having these Islamophobic reactions have no agency over their thoughts and behavior… as opposed to racism or sexism, which seems more intentional? Does that make sense? That naming oppressive behavior as a phobia, a fear, justifies it somewhat, makes you empathize with the person who’s having it, perhaps even makes you think “oh yeah, some Muslims are terrorists and therefore it is possible that someone legitimately becomes Islamophobic”, rather than it being an inexcusable oppression. What do you think? Speaking of xenophobia, I need to blog about the recent #StudentBan thing in the US… but separately…

2 Comments

  1. I think that phobia gives a sense that it can be fixed / solved with some form of education or behaviour management. With the ism, I feel that it is more of an attribute to character. So, in some ways, saying someone has a phobia is being kinder to them. I think of Islamaphobia as a fear of the unknown as that is largely what I have seen. I am not an expert by any means – but what I have seen is that many people with that attitude are largely that way because they don’t know much, so it is fear of the “other”. When I hear of isms, like racism, that to me is much more of a sense of personality trait, which is often why the approach among allies is to say “that was a racist behaviour” rather than “that person is a racist”, as one assumes a lack of intention / knowledge where the other is a judgement of character. I think we are in part saying the same thing.

    I do find the Islamiphobia example and equating Muslims to terriorists a narrow connection – in that there are a lot of people who suffer from Islamiphobia who do not believe all Muslim’s are terrorists – they just don’t know anyone who is a Muslim and don’t know about the religion – so their position of fear comes from ignorance and fear of the unknown, rather than a phobia associated with a misrepresentation or misgeneralization. Does that make sense?

    Cheers,
    Becky

    • But what you just said there, that’s exactly what is making me angry! Islamophobia as a term is an apologist term for ppl who do it, as a thing that is NOT systemic. The truth is v different. Islamophobia is perpetuated by media and scholarship and politics and is a VERY intentional power move and people internalize it in the same way they internalize racism. Very often, neither the racist nor Islamophobe is *aware* or *intentional* precisely because it is so ideologically imposed that it becomes internalized. Your response about knowing a Muslim person is the one where, in an interpersonal situation, you may move away from the oppressive behavior because you know someone. That’s cool. But many ppl will think that one person is the exception.

      Also… think about fear of black ppl. When ppl see a black man in a hoodie in a dark parking lot… they’re afraid, right? Isn’t that racism? And isn’t it internalized racism influenced by many years of media influence that this is a dangerous thing? How is that racism, something deeper, different from Islamophobia?

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