Although it is Indigenous people, people of colour, women, and persons with disabilities who suffer the worst indignities of colonization such as starvation and rape, more privileged people think that in our collective struggle of challenging the oppressive power structures that will lead to all people’s emancipation, the more oppressed people must mediate their hurt and anger in a way as not to offend.
People, all people, really need to critically reflect on how unreasonable and unfair it is that the people most hurt need to manage, not exhibited, and hide the emotions of the knowledge of being oppressed, or alternatively stated to coddle the ‘oppressor in others’ as it may hurt their feelings. Knowledge is tagged with emotion. Knowledge is emotion, knowledge is heartfelt, knowledge is wholistic. Colonization with all that is inherent such as sexism, racism, and ableism has been and is really hurtful and harmful. The emotion that the more oppressed people embody is the very knowledge of oppression. It is unreasonable, linear, and selfish of more privileged people to think otherwise.
That said, in offering this insight of mine I would never say to a more privileged person who can’t handle an expression of an oppressed person’s embodied knowledge to “Just get over it.” as I know full well that once they feel what an oppressed person feels that they will know more wholistically what has happened to me. Through heart knowledge they will have a relationship with the knowledge of colonial oppression. What I will say, though, is “Be objective, don’t take the very valid and legitimate expression of the embodiment of knowledge so personally. Once you are able to do this, feel the knowledge, you will be one step closer to your own emancipation and all that that entails such as clean air, water, and food.” We are all entitled to it. The four legged, winged, and bees too.
If in this process I lose you as an acquaintance or friend I will know it is because you may be benefiting from the oppressive power structures, and thus not truly interested in the emancipation for me or you. Follow the Turtle.
Dr. Lynn Gehl is an Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe from the Ottawa River Valley. She has a section 15 Charter challenge regarding the continued sex discrimination in The Indian Act, is an outspoken critic of the Ontario Algonquin land claims and self-government process, and recently published a book titled Anishinaabeg Stories: Featuring Petroglyphs, Petrographs, and Wampum Belts. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and see more of her work at www.lynngehl.com
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