Individuals who have power and privilege can be racist and sexist. Individuals who come from racial, ethnic, sexual, religious, or sexual orientation backgrounds that have been oppressed cannot be. If someone says a person of color is racist that is a false statement. If someone says that a woman is sexist that is a false statement. If you come from a position of powerlessness you cannot oppress anyone. If you have had no sense of empowerment you can only try to oppose those who have power.

By definition oppression means prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control. Other interchangeable words would include persecution, abuse, maltreatment, tyranny, repression, suppression, subjection, subjugation, enslavement, or exploitation.

Individuals who have been oppressed can definitely be prejudiced. They can be just as prejudiced as racist or sexist individuals can be. They can also pre-judge not based on reason or actual experiences. The difference being that this is generally a reaction to being oppressed.

Prejudice, bigotry, oppression, domestic violence, and sexual exploitation are all dysfunctional ways to try to make someone feel better about themselves at the cost of someone else’s safety and integrity. Being afraid enough to kill someone because of the color of their skin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or unproven threat assessment is lunacy.

There seems to be an abundance of hateful rhetoric today thats only real intent is to divide and create mistrust and hatred. There is a quote, “Hope has two daughters. Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.” I encourage you to feel Anger at the way things are today. I encourage you to have the Courage to make the changes that are necessary.

Michael Erickson

Baxter