A clarification on naming your oppressors....
September 22, 2013
I have said and I will continue to say that the oppressed have the right to name our oppressors. And that this right remains with us – we are the ultimate judges as to who oppresses us and who does not.
However, as a not quite clarification, I want to also remind people that I’m not a pure social constructivist. That my theory of truth is some version of the correspondence theory, whereby a proposition is true if and only if it corresponds with some actual state of affairs.
What this means is that the claim that group x oppresses you does not make them oppressors. It is that they, in actual fact, oppress you.
My claim about ‘naming our oppressors’ is based off an understanding that they oppressed are the only people in the position to fully comprehend the many and varied ways that we are oppressed, that we are the only ones who can properly ascertain the state of affairs.
So. This means that for the claim to “you are my oppressor” to be truthful, is first to assert that you are an oppressed person and that you’ve properly ascertained some state of affairs in which that person is embedded that oppresses you. It is about the individual manifesting the institutional.
(institutional = state of affairs, in this discussion)
This claim that ‘you are my oppressor’ is rendered false when you are not actually oppressed. see this photoset on appropriation the christian person claiming the ‘appropriated from’ position is incorrect. Christians are not oppressed. Certainly white christians are not oppressed. See also atheists.
The claim is also rendered false if there is no institution (re: state of affairs) in which the act/person takes place. An individual oppresses when they act for the interests of some institution designed to benefit them over and above other kinds of people.
Last. Intersectionality is also a real thing. This means that all of the above must always take into account that this shit is really complicated. And that if you approach something from only one axis of oppression, you’ll generally fail to say anything meaningful.