By Pauly Denetclaw
For the Generation Justice fellowship I am required to read about a variety of topics associated with social justice. For example, I am going to read a couple chapters from News for all the People by Juan Gonzalez and Joseph Torres, and another chapter from Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire. I get to choose in which order I do my required reading. So, I chose Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
I read chapter one for my analysis and, once again, my perception of reality has been changed. There is a quote in the book that resonated with me and it is, “only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both.” In this quote Freire is talking about how only the oppressed can free themselves and the oppressor from the chains of dehumanization. This term dehumanization means “those whose humanity has been stolen, but also (though in a different way) those who have stolen it. It is a distortion of the vocation of becoming more fully human,” according to Freire. From this section of the first chapter I understood that only the oppressed have the power to make the world a more equal place. The power does not lie with the oppressor.
This idea is mind blowing for me. I have often thought I am voiceless. I believed I was the one lonely, forgotten voice in a room of 100-foot tall giants. I spoke and I was silenced. So, I stopped talking and began writing. I learned the power of the pen, but in exchange I left my voice. I tucked it away and let others voice my beliefs.
Freire has spoken to me the wisdom of change. He has told me I wield the power to humanize the oppressed and the oppressor. I gladly take my role and promise to remember my cause. I won’t become an oppressor. I can’t.
In this world of oppression it is easy to believe you can’t change the world but you can. I will always remember that.