When we think about what oppression is, oppression is an effort to disempower a people, and this is a very crucial thing to think through, because we’re living in a period right now where people mistakenly look at power exclusively as coercion. But this is part of the neoliberal and of the neoconservative model. And it’s something that’s actually inherited from Elizabeth in England, and all the way back to Hobbes and those. To put it very bluntly, what power is, is the ability to make things happen, with access to the conditions of doing so. To be, to live, everybody needs power. If you didn’t have the power to get up this morning, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. And if we didn’t have access to the technologies through which to communicate between Chicago and here, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. So these are manifestations of power, but that’s power in the good sense; power enables you to do things. But there are people. Who want to hoard power. They want to use that ability to block other people’s ability to do things. So there are people who use power exclusively for the disempowerment of others, to hoard power into the hands of the few. If you look at what racism is or what sexism and many other forms of oppression are, they ultimately come down to disempowering people of their capacity to live every day lives as human beings. That’s why they struggle with double standards all the time.
This means if you’re struggling against them, you must empower them, which means that one has to unlock the capacities. This means then that the individuals hoarding power, because type defined themselves as the hoarders if they lose that, Ironically, you have to disempower their disempowering
You also make those individuals no longer relevant, because their basis of appearing and belonging is the set of practices of disempowerment.
Dr. Lewis Gordon, department head and professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut, discusses his most recent book titled, Fear of Black Consciousness.
Lewis Gordon is a philosopher a working in the areas of Africana philosophy, existentialism, phenomenology, social and political theory, postcolonial thought, theories of race and racism, philosophies of liberation, aesthetics, philosophy of education, and philosophy of religion. He has written particularly extensively on Africana and black existentialism, postcolonial phenomenology, race and racism, and on the works and thought of W. E. B. Du Bois and Frantz Fanon.
Find Fear of Black Consciousness at: us.macmillan.com/books/9780374159…ackconsciousness
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