Changing patterns take time, investment, awareness, and action. These same themes are essential for individuals, organizations, societies, and nations. If we wish to shift systems of oppression that perpetuate inequality within ourselves as well as within spaces that are important to us, we need to remember to offer time, investment, awareness and action.

For those of us born into families and places that did not encourage awareness of systemic oppression, we might need to dig deeper to do the internal and external work of shifting oppressive thinking and behavior that exists within and around us.

This is especially true for those of us who want to shift specific systems of oppression but may also benefit from them. Here are some tips to consider to help us in this internal and external work.

What Can We Do To Dismantle Systems of Oppression?

1)Learn to unlearn systemic oppression by noticing patterns within ourselves as well as the external systems around us such as at work, in our families, in the media, and at home. 

2) Amplify voices and experiences that aren’t heard. When we begin to notice, we observe ways we allow the silencing or actively participate in the silencing of voices and experiences. Instead, practice looking for opportunities to amplify voices and experiences that are not often represented.

3) Look for opportunities to enact change. Change can be hard. Most systems and people, don’t really like change – in the least, it’s effortful, and in the worst case, it can be deeply threatening to some. We need to practice looking for the opportunities we’re trained to walk by, and engage in action to enact purposeful change that is protective of those marginalized. 

4) Build our tolerance for mistake-making and discomfort.  When we have a low tolerance for making mistakes or discomfort, we might help maintain the status quo by avoiding behaviors that may bring up discomfort or making mistakes. Part of what helps us enact change is building our emotional reserves that help us tap into our values and tolerate the discomfort of trying something new.

5) Build our capacity to learn from mistakes. Part of why we avoid mistakes is because we have an unhealthy relationship with them. We might view making mistakes as a failure, as a sign of our weakness, and a permanent setback. Instead, consider realizing we have the opportunity for growth and learning, when we make mistakes. 

5) Engage in purposeful action, in addition to building awareness. We need to build our awareness so that we can be purposeful about how we act and use our resources. At the same time, we can get stuck in this awareness stage, because it feels less threatening than the repercussions of “doing.” Give yourself permission to practice both, building awareness while also engaging in action.

6) Engage in restorative care (including learning to process our emotions), so we can show up for others and ourselves. Learning anything new takes work and shifting systems take time and persistence. Rest is an essential part of long-term anything, so give yourself permission to purposefully rest and recharge. 


Banner image: Free-Photos at Pixabay

Featured image: Public Domain Pictures at Pixabay