Oppression Doesn't Require Violence

Let’s talk about complicity, y’all.

We’ve all experienced it: the pressure to remain silent when somebody in our group says or does something totally, morally indefensible. (Punching Nazis is OK, though ) Sometimes it’s somebody in the group using racial slurs to refer to a coworker. Sometimes it’s remaining silent when your partner displays signs of being a Nazi (“But I’m being ironic!”). Complicity is remaining silent and validating actions that are not morally just.


Many people are complicit in many things.

Complicity is being Melania Trump. Complicity is being a Ben Carson. Complicity is not standing up against your husband’s support of hatemobs. Complicity is being OK with harassing women.

I was a complicit conservative.

I got better.

The world is not a just place, where people receive their earned karma. The systems of society are balanced in favor of abusers. People of color receive disproportionate. Women face more harassment online than men. It’s a world where rich kids get better opportunities at every turn than poor kids. A world where 10% control 73% of money in America. A world where half of people have less than eight people born into wealth.


It’s not a world where you just follow the rules, work hard, and succeed. The world is not a meritocracy.

Participation Doesn’t Require Violence

Systemic oppression doesn’t require you to physically commit violence. It simply requires you to be OK with it. It requires you to just not call it out when you see it.


Not calling out the killing of Tamir Rice. Not calling out the killing of Eric Garner. Not calling out the systemic miscarriage of justice that is America’s judicial system. (Who the fuck thought electing Sheriff, Prosecutor, and Judge was a good idea?)

Participating in systemic oppression can be as simple as telling people they’re uncivil when they call out oppression. It can be as simple as not interviewing qualified job candidates who are women or people of color.

The face of systemic oppression is not a Nazi.

The face of systemic oppression the moderate. The person who just stands by and doesn’t stand up for the moral right.

Illustration for article titled Oppression Doesnt Require Violence

How to #StandUp

1. Call out instances of oppression when you see them.

2. Listen to people calling out instances of oppression.

3. If somebody experiencing oppression has said something, boost their voice.

Closing Words

I invite you, nay, exhort you to be mindful of the impact your action (or inaction) can have on others. It doesn’t take much to become a better person. There is no need to take up the sword in order to bring about justice. Justice happens when you do the right thing. And the right thing is as easy as stopping a moment and saying: “That’s not OK.”

If you’d like to do a little more than just say “That’s not OK” you can help make the world better by donating to organizations who help the victims of war, to the providers of health care, to shelters in your local city. You can also consider becoming active in your local chapter of NAACP or joining a march near you.

The world is filled with injustice. Take a look for those who want to make the world a more welcoming, equal place. And thank them. They get lots of hate directed their way. Let them know you appreciate them doing the right thing.

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