Developing White Racial Literacy – Revised Edition
Chapter 5: The Cycle of Oppression
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THE CYCLE OF OPPRESSION
My neighborhood growing up was not diverse at all. Everyone is equal. There is no race that is better than another. I’ve never felt like my race was important in shaping my life. It’s never been in my mind. It was never a limitation or an advantage or anything. (ASR)
One way to conceptualize oppression is through the image of a cycle, as illustrated in Figure 14. The result of this cycle is the systematic mistreatment of a minoritized group.
The Generation of Misinformation
The first dynamic that sets the cycle in motion is misinformation about and misrepresentation of a minoritized group. The group is presented in limited, superficial, and negative ways. Take, for example, the representation of black men on television. When we see black men, it is most often either in sports (and concentrated in specific sports such as basketball and football), or associated with the criminal justice system, be it in the role of criminal or cop. “Reality” shows about the daily life of police officers or prisoners in lockdown deeply reinforce these associations, as over and over we see the bodies of black ← 83 | 84 → men (often shirtless) being forcibly contained. These constant negative representations reinforce prejudice toward black men and cause us to have skewed understandings about their lives.
Figure 14. Cycle of oppression.
It is also important to note that invisibility is...
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