When Surviving an Oppressive System Makes You a Part Of It

Every marginalized person has experienced the dissonance of having to play by the rules of a system that is designed to limit her simple existence. Cutting one’s natural hair to look more “civilized” during the job interview. Wearing uncomfortable heels because it is what is expected of “professional” women. Speaking the King’s English whenever white folks are anywhere in the vicinity so as to gain their trust and foster their comfort.

Many times, these are simple acts of survival. If you don’t get that job, you’ll go broke. If you detract from the professional appearance of your company, you’ll get fired. If you don’t gain the trust of white folks, they may view you as a threat — and threats to white folks, even 17 year old threats with bags of skittles and ice tea, do not live very long.

Necessarily, as a Person of Color, there is a certain amount one must compromise to live within a white supremacist society. But when does compromising go too far? How do we live within a system and play by its rules without endorsing it as legitimate? What are the limits of subversion and what are the costs? And are the costs worth it?

Without asking these intimidating questions of ourselves, the irony is that in our need to simply live another day, we may unwittingly support the ongoing dehumanization of our communities caused by white supremacy…


Follow Hari Ziyad on Twitter and RaceBaitR on Facebook!

At RaceBaitR, we pay all our writers, which is impossible without donors like you!



One Comment

Add yours →

  1. Thanks for sharing such a fastidious idea, article is
    fastidious, thats why i have read it fully

Comments are closed.

Please support the site
By clicking any of these buttons you help our site to get better
%d bloggers like this: