Rise Up or Beat Others Down: Reactions to Oppression

People who feel oppressed can react in very different and opposing ways. Some grow, gaining character and compassion. Some tear others down in hopes of feeling bigger, themselves.

Life gave Shirley Sherrod good reason to be racist when a white farmer murdered her father in 1965, and an all-white grand jury failed to bring charges.

Many would become bigots. But Sherrod filled with purpose as she resolved to bring change to the South.

Others feel they are victims of reverse racism, fearing that they have lost, or will lose, jobs to minorities.

Right wing internet provocateur, Andrew Breitbart, seems intent on bringing others down, as he did in misrepresenting Shirley Sherrod, airing only her reluctance to help the white farmer, and ignoring the fact that she eventually did, and how she grew from the experience. 

Some fill with hate, others fill with love.

I recently watched a PBS series on the Buddha, whose main concern was suffering. Sometimes suffering is unavoidable, like getting cancer or becoming a victim of cruelty. But too often we take on suffering that could be avoided when we respond by becoming depressed, angry, resentful, filled with hatred, or when we retreat into a shell.

These are all very human reactions, but where do they take us? 

We all face challenges in this world, and some are atrocious. But we really only have two choices in how to react. We can act in ways that create misery for ourselves and others, or we can grow.

Georgia Platts

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 9, 2010, in feminism, gender, race/ethnicity and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I enjoyed reading this post, I felt like i was reading a page out of my life story,Oppression, the mean of this word is prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control, which was done to me, and I have have done to others. I have seen and dealt with a lot while growing up. For one, I am a young black single mother, Plus I have a genetic disease called Sickle cell anemia, or sickle cell disease (SCD). For a while, I hated my family members because it felt like no one care if I lived or died. No one would check up on me or reached out to see if I was okay, even my father was not there. I would hurt people with my word because I did not understand how to deal with my pain within, but I found growth within myself after having a child of my own and dealing with her on the daily. I could not have hate within myself because I had so much love for life and my child now.

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