In Canadian society, people are targeted for unequal treatment, discrimination, and oppression for many different reasons: their age, race, gender, sexual orientation, ancestry, place of origin, religious belief, physical or mental disability…among many other factors. People who are too old or too young, are women, are people of colour, are aboriginal people, are people whose first language is not English, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, who are trans, who are physically or developmentally challenged, who were raised working class, who are poor, who were not raised christian…experience that inequality.
Conversely, in Canadian society, people get ‘bonus points’ of privilege. And so people who are neither too young nor too old, who are men, who are white, who are non-native, who are people whose first language is English, who are heterosexual, who are cisgendered, who have no physical or mental disabilities, who were raised christian and middle or upper class…experience that privilege.
The thing is that each of us experiences both being targeted for inequality, and being privileged. Even a straight, white, able-bodied, christian-raised, cisgendered, middle class, anglophone man was once a child; and every adult has the privilege of adulthood in relation to children.
We are accustomed to focus on the ways we have been discriminated against and treated unequally. It is my conviction, and the basis of the ‘unlearning oppression’ work that I do, that we have to identify and work against the ways we are oppressed, the ways we internalize that oppression as a negative part of our self-image, and the ways that we have unearned privilege, and the ways we internalize that privilege as internalized dominance.
The materials below speak to what unlearning oppression means.
I have done hundreds of workshops about unlearning oppression over the last forty years.
For an unlearning oppression workshop, contact me.
Unlearning Oppression Resources
We Are All Some of You/You are All Some of Us
With All of Who We Are: A Discussion of Oppression and Dominance
Hidden Hurts - questions
Hidden Hurts - answers
The Breastless Lesbian
To My Wet'suwet'en People
If you like the material on this page, check out the blog that I write with Kate Nonesuch: AcrossDifference.com