on exposing the wounded underbelly of oppressors

there’s a really interesting line in a piece of a book review of daryl davis’ book, klan-destine relationships.

Davis, who is black makes a good living as a journeyman boogie blues pianist and he was at the keys when Bill Clinton was blowing his saxophone on “Arsenio.” But a gnawing question has never been far from his mind: What makes some white people hate blacks so much – to the point where they want to join one of the numerous and widely divergent hate groups know as the Ku Klux Klan? At all points in “Klan-Destine Relationships,” Davis approaches his quest for information with equally impressive helpings of honesty, good humor and huge reserves of sheer nerve. His book follows him as wheedles which he probes point-blank how their lives and views have led them to the Klan.

Davis never “spins” their rationalizations. He just lets his subjects talk, and invariably the wounded, confused and fearful psyches under the bluster are laid bare. — Bruce Martin, News Entertainment Editor

that last line (emphasis added by me) really gets me because i think it’s dead on. i think it might be a weakness that has been woefully under-exploited on the path to racial justice. underneath many/most (all?) forms of oppression, as far as i can tell, is actually just fear. and it’s usually fear of being less than or no longer needed. toxic masculinity i believe is rooted in a need to hold the same level of power as in past times because men can’t imagine a world in which they aren’t in full control. same goes for classism, homo-, bi-, and transphobia, ableism, ageism, etc.

but if this book surfaces that reality in a meaningful way, i think there’s some real possibilities forward. in a very real way, i think exposing the underlying fear in the position of oppressors could be a significant step in making oppression obsolete. if people can be shown that another way of existence is possible, one in which we can all be free, i think people would want it. and as one of my favorite quotes goes…

In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete. - buckminster fuller

i wrote a few days ago about changing the calculus on oppression in a post. i think this is just another piece of that conversation.

writing spell-check, link-finding, & formatting
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