Alexander Lynn

Jul 12, 2021

5 min read

Three Paradigms of Oppression

The following essay was written in response to the prompt of a college English assignment to investigate the conditions of three social groups: Women, LGBTQ’s and Transgender peoples.

Michelle Winbush

We have been given four articles to read regarding three distinct social groups: Women, Queers and Transgender peoples. In accordance with today’s wording in International Law, I call these three groups “oppressed peoples,” peoples oppressed by the male supremacist, patriarchal social system that rules most of the Earth today.

Immediately as the United Nations was formed, International Law (1948) began to be framed by the votes of the large majority of countries of the world in UN General Assemblies. The nations and peoples who were waging wars of national liberation at that time, against the evil system of US and European white supremacist colonialism, were termed in International Law as “oppressed peoples.”

Language is made by the people, and words change their meaning as people change the world. Women, Queers and Transgender peoples have been waging liberation struggles for which there must be a concomitant respectful language. The article “Trans 101” teaches us that “All language evolves at a community level, so when trans people coin new terms for our experiences, that’s totally fine!”

In accordance with the above principle, I refer to the LGBTQ rights struggle as the Queer Peoples Liberation Movement for three overlapping reasons: (1) before the 1960’s one Black American could be subject to violence from another Black American for the breech of cultural law of the first calling the second “Black.” It was regarded as the highest form of insult, akin to agreeing with “Massa” that we were less than human. The Black Liberation Movement of the 1960’s changed all that as folk cleverly, and eventually as an agreed upon tactic, embraced the name “Black,” attributing to it our own sense of our beauty as a people (“Black is Beautiful”), and our own sense of our power as a people (“Black Power”). My reading of the development of this other people’s liberation movement is that Queers embraced the name, first as a way of deflating its hurtful quality.

(2) African Americans as a people have never fully endorsed the appellations Gay and Lesbian, as many regard them as White terms. In their turn, many White people who call themselves Gay and Lesbian, regard this stance by Black folk as homophobia. Such White people have not taken heed of the two principles offered two paragraphs ago regarding how the people transform language to meet the needs of their liberation struggles. Gays and Lesbians are free to do this, and, by the will of Allah, and by International Law, Black folk have the same freedom — it is a human right.

(3) My reading of history teaches me Black folk have been in leadership of the wing of the freedom struggle which identifies with the term “Queer.”

The two articles on Trans were extremely helpful, as I have been trying to study and be mindful and considerate of this oppressed people. To date the majority of my knowledge of this social group comes from the fact that my daughter only dates (for the last fourteen years) Trans Black women. As I get to know these people, I have come to learn two very important conditions of their existence: (1) Trans Black women, as a discrete people in their own right, are singularly the most politically conscious group in the US. Any time you see a Trans Black woman on the news, she is invariably speaking out, speaking forthrightly about the human rights of Trans and all oppressed peoples. (2) Trans Black women, as a discrete social group in the US, are murdered for being Trans Black women more than any other social group is murdered for being who they are in this country.

The most important principle in the third article “Gender Unicorn” states: “Bodies and gender are totally different things, but people sometimes conflate the two, or think that having a certain body type means you must be a certain gender.”

In the space we have been allotted (two pages), it is hard to do justice to each of the four articles, so I will be straight to the point: “The Kyriarchy” was the weakest of the four. (1, process) It is typical White American individualism to come up with your own word (one person offering the world a new word), rather than relying on the community of humans, such as International Law which has been using the concepts “the male supremacist system” and “the patriarchy” to cover for the world’s people what this one American scribe would substitute for this community process. Did she check with anyone before she offered us “kyriarchy”?

(2, content) The author’s use of the Feminist term “intersectionality” actually, in her presentation, exposes itself as the same old “White people are humans, everyone else is ‘other’.” The most important world-historic process of the last 30 years in the realm of the world-wide women’s liberation movement is the rise of Womanism. While Women of Color world-wide are inclusive, and as such respect Feminism as White women’s liberation and give it pride of place alongside the women’s movements of any other people, our Feminist failed to mention (probably forgot, a trifle) in her presentation of intersectionality the rise to prominence world-wide of Womanism. I thought she was trying to claim that “intersectionality” is inclusive, recognizing the cross section of oppressions. So, you fail to mention the liberation movements of Women of Color as represented by Womanism. It probably skipped your mind?