Knowing that one is living with oppression is a blessing whenever it decides to come, not knowing is a curse that will forever leave one much worse off. – Guynes
Before attempting to answer a few interesting questions arising from readers of the article Oppression as a Test: A Metaphor for the Nigerian Youth (https://wp.me/p1bOKH-P5), it is important to explain a simple taxonomy of oppression.
Firstly, there are countless instances of micro-oppression, which one can experience at the individual level involving actors who oppress and are oppressed within a direct relational condition. Examples of micro-oppression may be anything from one-off cases to a single episode within a systemic phenomenon of the practice. A parent may find it convenient to beat/abuse the only passive child; a police officer that has just brutalised an innocent pedestrian may be part of a police department reputed to be heavy-handed.
Secondly, there are instances of macro-oppression, which is profoundly entrenched within the traditions, preferences and expectations social groups. The actors that perpetrate this kind of oppression develop routines that take advantage of the most significant number of people within a group by imposing “habits of obedience” on targets. Macro-oppression can be as broad as has been found in former communist one-party states (FCOS) that controlled whole national populations. Or as narrow as is found in University Campus Grown Fraternities that (UCGF) have a few thousand active members. Macro-oppression also shows its face in many forms of systemic discrimination in which the dominant group enforces habits of obedience.
The first question asked was if there are latent oppressors among the oppressed who can be liberated only to become oppressors subsequently. Logically, some of the oppressed have brains that are wired to oppress others. The reality is different. A close study of FCOS or UCGF will quickly reveal those latent oppressors among the oppressed invariable practice “if you can’t beat them, you join them” with high fidelity and expediency. Oppressors are attracted to oppressors. The latent oppressor is usually the one who will volunteer to be a spy, informant, saboteur or enforcer for the oppressor exacting much betrayal, treason, sabotage and distress on his already oppressed fellows. The latent oppressor can covertly do much evil to his fellows with the hope that he will become a legitimate oppressor someday. The latent oppressor who is so keen to destroy his fellows without a single scruple to get ahead will also act as ever-fawning gophers, house-boys, boy boys to oppressors or the powerful to get ahead.
Using Richard Dawkins; “selfish gene” as a point of reference, in the game of oppression there are Users (the oppressors), the Suckers (who accept their oppression) and Grudgers (who retaliate against the oppressor). A latent oppressor would usually be found among the Suckers. A Grudger is more likely by nature to be ready to test life for freedom. Finally, a latent oppressor (Sucker) is most likely to prefer returning to a condition of oppression after he achieves freedom; it makes him feel like somebody (cf Jail-Happy Prisoners).
The second question was if Malcolm X was talking about life testing in terms of “giving/taking life for freedom”, how comes I say no weapons of destruction are necessary to achieve freedom. In previous articles, I have written (e.g. https://wp.me/p1bOKH-KN), I make it clear that death does not strictly mean the expiration of human life but also the expiration of specific human capabilities. Without any disrespect to Malcolm X, far more people have become liberated through education, awareness, enlightenment, self-knowledge, civil disobedience and enterprise than through destructive methods and weapons. Malcolm X acknowledges this when he says “When you know that!” Furthermore, when your action or enterprise forces the arrogance, audacity, indulgence or contempt over you to expire, it is a distinct death of its own.
The third question, how does economic oppression work in practice? It was this particular question that necessitated me to introduce the taxonomy of micro-oppression and macro-oppression. Economic oppression is mostly experienced in the form of macro-oppression; it affects the many, not the few. The routines of oppression hardly ever miss a potential target. Example: deeply embedded in the patriarchic psyche of Nigerian or African society is the expectation that any female [except for a few] who seek to participate in the economy as employees or entrepreneurs at middle and higher levels has to offer sex as a non-negotiable pre-condition. Take a female who has a first-class in geology, is well-spoken, smashed the aptitude tests, turned her final interview for a job in an oil company into a seminal event. She would on her strength, only get her employment letter delivered to her after appeasing a male senior staff(s) sexually. Such is economic oppression by way of perverse gender expectations. Disgusting!
In cases of economic oppression and similar, testing life can only succeed when the most significant number of oppressed people can collectively seek the death of the oppressors or their means of oppression.