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Working on Oppressor Patterns
with a Mutual Commitment

A Co-Counselor and I decided to work on our mutual restimulation that was affecting our Community. I asked for help from Allan Hansen, our Area Reference Person.

Allan began by saying that we were both good people but that we were acting out oppressor patterns at each other. I could clearly see how I, a raised-poor and working-class person, was being subjected to this Co-Counselor’s middle- and owning-class patterns. I couldn’t see how I was being oppressive.

Allan asked me to go first and tell her what she was doing that I found oppressive. I gave some examples. Then she told me how she saw my actions as hurtful. Allan pointed out that my actions as a non-parent were reinforcing parents’ oppression. That was an eye-opener for me! 1

Then she and I got some time to discharge on having heard and said these things. After that, our leaders’ class met with us and we worked in front of the group. Allan had us hold hands, look at each other, and repeat the following commitment: “I solemnly swear that I will eliminate every trace of (I said parents’; she said working-class) oppression that I have directed at you and other people.” Then we just looked at each other and discharged on whatever thoughts came up in the wake of saying the commitment. A lot of thoughts came up. None of them were about the other person—they were just our fears and early hurts. We went back and forth a number of times and both discharged powerfully.

Allan was a support, but we remained each other’s loving counselor throughout, thinking well and offering good contradictions.2 It was empowering to step outside habits of distress and restimulation that had kept us from closeness and working together. I realized that this Co-Counselor is a strong ally to parents. She said the session allowed her to get to feelings about her family and the terror about survival that can drive middle- and owning-class oppressor material.3 She found it helpful to work on this while looking at me and having my support as a working-class leader. She also felt that working on oppressor material in this way disarmed the pattern of defending it, and the shame about it.

Suvan Geer
Santa Ana, California, USA
Reprinted from the e-mail discussion
list for RC Community members 

1 “That was an eye-opener for me” means that made me see something for the first
2 Contradictions to distress
3 “Material” means distress.

Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00