SYSTEMIC OPPRESSION

“As leaders for equity, our primary concern is to interrupt those rules that serve, either implicitly or explicitly, to perpetuate opportunity gaps for vulnerable students.”  Applying a Racial Equity Frame

This quote from the National Equity Projects article on systemic oppression relates closely to the garden’s purpose to educate the community on these type of issues. Individual perception is where one must start to catalyze change, thus impacting the future, and rippling into changing this structural oppression. Many in our society want to ignore the past we have of oppressive and racist tendencies and just look to the future, but we must delve into the past to understand where these inequalities are found and how they have grown in order to remove them once and for all. For example, educational inequalities are thought by some to be a thing of the past but are still evident in the modern world in some ways more than others.

“Dramatically different learning opportunities-  especially disparities in access to well qualified teachers, high quality curriculum, and small schools and classes- are strongly related to differences in student achievement.” (https://www.jstor.org/stable/2696245?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents)


This quote, from a research article conducted by Linda Darling-Hammond for Stanford University, references the modern problems that historically segregated schools still experience. Even after integration of blacks and whites into schools was attempted, schools which have remained primarily black still to this day lack the resources to cultivate the same level of effective education as their majority white counterparts. What can be attributed to aiding these factors of inequality to continue spreading and developing would be misrepresentation and underrepresentation of people of color and women in the media.

“The media’s representation of people of color and women is not only an issue nationally but also right here in our home of Asheville.” William Genty, “Minorities in the Media”

Taken from a student research paper written on this misrepresentation, this quote reminds us that we must start in our own backyard to elicit change in the world. Asheville is the center for so much new growth and progress, and we can take advantage of this by including equality on our list of problems to solve. We can look into how our local community is contributing to racism, and systemic oppression and confront these problems head on. We can look at how the media is depicting social groups and minorities and do our own research to challenge the accuracy of these depictions. The misrepresentation of people of color in the media has lead to many hot button issues to surface, orten bring a slew of arguments and biases alongside. Read the rest of Gentry's essay here.

“Whites want to hold onto their guns in fear of gun violence committed by those of color, since it is in their perception that African Americans are more likely to commit such acts than whites are.” Braden M. Schulte, “Racism, How it Still Holds onto our Nation and Western North Carolina”

From another piece of student written research, this quote encapsulates the essential message of misrepresentation: If an entire group of people is reduced to a stereotype portrayed repeatedly by the media, then individuals consuming this media will believe it is true. This is where doing your own research becomes imperative. Questioning authority and challenging the status quo is of utmost importance in dissolving the stereotypes and structures that contribute to systemic oppression. Read the rest of Schulte's essay here.

©2019 by Burton Street Community Peace Gardens. Web design and content by Amanda Wray and UNC Asheville Professional Writing students.

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