(originally posted 02/09 at wordpress)
by Talia Jae Potter
Today my class went to an Illumination Project performance. If you don't know what that is I'll tell you....
It's called the theater of the oppressed. They perform real-life oppressive situations that have to do with racism, immigration, religion, sexism, etc... they run through the play once without stopping the oppressive circumstance and then they run through again and ask the audience to intervene. Good rehearsal for a future incident.
Today they talked about racism and it was aimed at a black woman by checking her ID, touching her hair and calling her "Whoopie". A few people intervened with good suggestions that made the characters think... others were trying to say that it wasn't really racism and that they didn't understand why people saw it that way.
*So a side note, I tend to forget that not everyone has my training or knowledge about oppression that we get when working at places like WRC or Multicultural Center.
So we went back to class and had a group discussion about racism and oppression. One middle aged white woman kept getting defensive and saying that she just didn't see it as racism and doesn't really understand why we are saying all this.... She even said we, WE, were being ignorant. Oh goodness me... The teacher and me and other students tried to explain why things like so called "Random selection" and touching a black person's hair is considered racist and this woman just had a really hard time listening to any of it. I took a few deep breaths and let it go.
I know its a huge shock to learn all this about oppression when you have spent your whole life ignoring it. Thats the point, they don't want us to see it. But it must be seen. Or it will never change. Education and knowledge is the key and with knowledge you gain freedom. I really hope this lady went home and thought a little bit about what happened today.