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Ending Silence About Oppression

I am teaching a class on ending racism and classism. We have divided the class into segments on Asian liberation, Latino/a liberation, and black liberation. On Saturday we had the Latino/a liberation class, and I worked with two Latinas on the commitment to end racism. First I worked with them exactly the way Harvey encouraged the women to speak up at the Philadelphia workshop, only I had the people of color say, "These are the ways you are a racist" instead of "These are the ways you are a sexist." I had the people of color list exactly what they saw as racist and what specifically they wanted changed. Lots of internalized oppression was discharged and lots of good information came out, too.

Then I had them work on committing to ending racism. I started by telling them things parallel to what Harvey said at the workshop. This went something like: (Latina speaking to a white)

I'm going to make sure you discharge your racism.

Don't argue with me.

You can ask questions, and I'll try to answer them.

Take my directions and try them.


We're going to have a real relationship for the first time in a long while.

(I think such statements are a good warm-up exercise for oppressed people who are committed to ending their oppression.) After they discharged a little on making the commitment, I had them decide if they wanted to make that commitment seriously (and keep it). They did.

It worked perfectly! We were all very excited. I think a whole lid of silence and politeness is about to be blown off for women, people of color, working-class people, and others. It's like a light switch has gone on in people's minds about how to take power.

Jevera Temsky
Washington, D.C., USA

Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00