There seem to be two camps of people when it comes to how to respond to oppression. One: outrage – this is usually from people who have a history of being oppressed. Two: gentle opposition – this is usually from people who recognize oppression but have not experienced it first hand, maybe systemically but not as someone who has had their life altered as a result of system of oppression. I’ve written about this before. BIPOC folks, especially women, seem to generally fall into the first camp, as do trans and queer folks, although many white LGTBQ people seem to feel more comfortable seeping over to the second camp, maybe as not to cause too much conflict.

Note: I’m not trying to shoe-horn people into either camp by their status. I’m here to talk about these two conflicting camps and how they have wreaked havoc on my brain.

Black Lives Matters taught me outrage. It told me not to be complicit or complacent anymore. It told me that my outrage was tangible and that it was justified and that it could fuel my action. No bullshit. No wiggle room. Racism has no place in the world and yet it is all around us. Racial oppression is not justified under any circumstance. These things I know to be true.

Unschooling has tried to make me be more gentle in my opposition to oppression. Everyone is on their own journey, having been influenced by their own set of experiences which shapes their own world. Even intersectional unschooling recognizes that so much oppression is born out of colonization: a concept that we colonizers are just starting to understand. Both decolonizing and deschooling takes time and we can’t expect everyone to instantly exist in the world without oppressing others when it is so deeply ingrained in our culture and society and lives. It takes time to relearn what it means to live without power-over dynamics and it obviously won’t happen overnight. These things I know to be true.

When I’m sitting in camp outrage and looking at camp gentle opposition, I feel frustrated. There’s not enough action happening. People are lazy and not willing to put in the personal time and effort to break down systems of oppression.

When I’m sitting in camp gentle opposition and looking at camp outrage, I feel hopeless. Why do we need to point fingers and cancel each other? No one is going to respond well to being shamed. We need to be more inclusive and not so divisive if we ever really want to see lasting change.

Is this a false dichotomy? Is there something somewhere in the middle between rage and apathy? Do any of us really have enough spoons to continually keep fighting the cis white capitalist patriarchy and still keep our lives together? Am I doomed to a constant cycle back and forth between these stages? I know that individual activism is useless but cannot for the life of me find a network or community that wants to do this work. Sometimes I can’t even imagine what this work looks like in community because every attempt I’ve made at joining community has failed. Maybe not failed. Flailed?
I don’t have answers but I do feel better having noticed the differences between these two camps and how I seem to flip flop between them. If you have answers, or even thoughts, send ’em my way.