MULLALLY’S definition of oppression on a personal level focused on why oppression occurs and how it continues to worsen. He emphasized how derogatory comments are made regarding one’s physical appearance, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and gender. That these hurtful words are directed towards people from marginalized communities or groups. Additionally, he focused on how these words could have such an impact on people and how they live their lives. Thus, strengthen the outcome for the dominant group to stay in authority due to little action taken regarding their behavior.
HE highlighted two forms of oppression at the personal level:
- Conscious Acts of Aggression and/or Hatred
This form of oppression is heavily associated with physical appearance and that the dominant group tends to comment and emotionally distress minorities about. Thus, making them believe that the way they look does not conform to normal standards or that it is a form of deviance when compared to them. The action of violence will also be conveyed against minorities and will associate them with stereotypes to continue to have control over them.
- Unconscious Acts of Aversion and Avoidance
Unconscious acts of aversion and avoidance, in my opinion, is a very common form of oppression. Since many people in this category may have fear or become uncomfortable when in the vicinity of people of color. They may also act differently when encountering individuals or groups that are associated with stereotypes. This form of oppression is difficult to approach since it is not completely clear on what type of oppression or racism is actually occurring.
I have been affected by both forms of oppression at the personal level due to being a Muslim and for wearing the traditional headscarf, the Hijab. Oppression is something I deal with on a daily basis. As an Arab-American woman who wears the Hijab, I encounter obstacles and discrimination everyday. The dominant groups associate the Hijab as a form of oppression that is forced and disadvantages Muslim women. However, these assumptions and stereotypes are far from the truth, this is not what the Hijab is all about. My Hijab symbolizes pride, respect, modesty, strength, and spirituality. These characteristics have embodied me with strength and courage to be myself and only myself.
UNCONSCIOUS acts of aversion and avoidance are the type of oppression that occurs around me the most. I can obviously tell when others do not want to be around me out of fear or that they feel uncomfortable because of my Hijab. However, sometimes I feel that they only participate in this act of aversion and avoidance, not because they have anything against me, but because they are scared of what others might think if they befriended me.
WE perpetuate oppression by not defending others and instead conform with privileged groups, this is done to protect our associated privilege or out of fear for our safety. I have had my fair share of public discrimination and I have not conformed to staying quiet unless I have fear over my safety (which is rare for me to do). However, instead of being a bystander like most others I take action when anyone wants to discriminate towards me. I do not allow others to bring me or my people down, I own who I am and am not afraid to show it. Wither the bigotry was towards my community or not, I will not stand for such hatred and disrespect.
SPEAKING up and advocacy are the keys to change and for a new perspective to be developed. Education is also vital, having an understanding of the meaning of culture and diversity will give other groups an idea of why we need this diversification to occur in this world. Encouraging others to ask questions is also a great way to learn about others. I would feel more comfortable if people asked me why I wore the Hijab than them staring at me or becoming uncomfortable. We need to love one another for our dissimilarities and embrace the uniqueness since we need color in our lives. We all need to come to the realization that we are MORE alike than dissimilar. The reality of all of this will not be fixed over night, but any work we put towards this change wither it was defending others or advocating for equality is better than silence.