Below you will find brief annotations of selected sources.
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
First published in Portuguese in 1970 and then in English in 1980, Pedagogy of the Oppressed stands as a foundational text of critical pedagogy and remains Freire's most influential work. Written in four chapters, Freire writes in a prophetic manner the dynamics and concepts of oppression. Freire illuminates for us the system of oppression that all human beings inherently live in. This system can be described as the relationship between the oppressors and the oppressed. The oppressors, historically, are the dominant elite that have benefitted from the subjugation of those lower than them. They use domination, a rhetorical device that works to negate the thoughts and aspirations of those it intends to dominate. The oppressed, for whom the book is written, are the lower class who's consciousness is submerged and ensconced into reality, a result of the history of this subjugation. In chapter 2, Freire describes the “banking concept” of education. This model of education, which we are still in the grips of today, is based on a pre-determined curriculum of ideas that are to be deposited into the passive oppressed. If the oppressed are submissive and docile, they are more easily dominated. The banking concept of education works to deepen this docility to be able to oppress with ease. Chapter 3 outlines the methodology of how a “team of investigators” would wake the submerged consciousness of the oppressed. This process involves gathering information about the oppressed and codifying this information as a problem that the oppressed must resolve and overcome. Chapter 4 discusses in depth the concepts and theories of anti-dialogical action which are the means used by the oppressors to sustain the violent subjugation of the oppressed.
For me, this text served as a manual with which I could overcome oppression. The book utilizes a technique called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (Psychology Today, n.d.). This controversial psychotherapeutic intervention works to repackage how the eyes move in relation to the processing of traumatic events and emotions. Used correctly, this technique can help the formerly oppressed reprocess the negative emotions and slogans that have been deposited in them by oppression. Coupled with meticulous journaling and self-reflection, an oppressed person may find some relief from these pressures.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy. (n.d.). Psychology Today. Retreived from https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/therapy-types/eye-movement-desensitization-and-reprocessing-therapy
Freire, P. (1982). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. (M.B. Ramos, Trans.). New York: Continuum Publishing.
Teaching Community and Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks
Below, you will find a few excerpts from bell hooks’ 2004 book Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope and 1994 book Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. Her words have been hailed as being remarkably clear and piercing in describing the very complex, and sometimes invisible dynamics of racism and white supremacy. Because of the clarity of her writing, I found it cumbersome and unnecessary to write a summary of her texts as her words speak for themselves. This text has been instrumental in my understanding of the implications of my own race and has helped countless others begin to build the consciousness to stand up to the white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy.
BELL HOOKS, TEACHING COMMUNITY, CHAPTER 3: TALKING RACE AND RACISM
“Teaching, lecturing, and facilitating workshops and writing about ending racism and other forms of domination, I have found that confronting racial biases, and more important, white-supremacist thinking, usually requires that all of us take a critical look at what we learned early in life about the nature of race. Those initial imprints seem to overdetermine attitudes about race. In writing groups, we often begin simply with our first remembered awareness of race. Exploring our earliest ways of knowing about race, we find it easier to think about the question of standpoint. Individual white people, moving from denial of race to awareness, suddenly realize that white-supremacist culture encourages white folks to deny their understanding of race, to claim as part of their superiority that they are beyond thinking about race. Yet when the denial stops, it becomes clear that underneath their skin, most white folks have an intimate awareness of the politics of race and racism. They have learned to pretend that it is not so, to take on the posture of learned helplessness (26).”
BELL HOOKS, TEACHING TO TRANSGRESS: EDUCATION AS THE PRACTICE OF FREEDOM, INTRODUCTION
“The banking system of education (based on the assumption that memorizing information and regurgitating it represented gaining knowledge that could be deposited, stored and used at a later date) did not interest me. I wanted to become a critical thinker. Yet that longing was often seen as a threat to authority (5).”
TEACHING TO TRANSGRESS, CHAPTER 2, A REVOLUTION OF VALUES: THE PROMISE OF MULTICULTURAL CHANGE
“They teach us to believe that domination is “natural,” that it is right for the strong to rule over the weak, the powerful over the powerless. What amazes me is that so many people claim not to embrace these values and yet our collective rejection of them cannot be complete since they prevail in our daily lives (28).”
hooks, b. (2004). Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope. New York: Routledge.
hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. New York: Routledge.
Mark B. Tappan. (2006). “Reframing Internalized Oppression and Internalized Domination: From the Psychological to the Sociocultural."
As our understanding of Freire's and bell hooks’ illustrations of the violent paradigms of domination and oppression deepens, we can start to realize and recognize that these grand societal forces have a psychological and physiological effect on us. In this article, Tappan suggests a reinterpretation of “internalized oppression” and “internalized domination” not only as a psychological phenomenon as previously established but also a sociocultural one. The psychological effect seems obvious as the oppressed and subjugated begin to accept their lower status following the domination by the elite. Tappan views domination as the “instrument” through which oppression takes place. The dominant elite use alienating and dominating rhetoric as the instrument to further their privlege and gain. With this reinterpretation, we can ask “how aware are white people of their participation in domination and oppression?” If it is an instrument that can be used, one must consciously decide to use it. Through further study, one will find that determining the precise level of this awareness is as elusive as consciousness itself.
Tappan, M.B. (2006). Reframing internalized oppression and internalized domination: From the psychological to the sociocultural. Teachers College Record 108(10). 2115-2144.