Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. Some time ago I stumbled across a speech given by her and was electrified. There are, indeed, wondrous humans on this planet. In that speech she related the following:
....how to create a single story, show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.
It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. There is a word, an Igbo word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structures of the world, and it is "nkali." It's a noun that loosely translates to "to be greater than another." Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali. How they are told, who tells them, when they're told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power.
Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. The Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes that if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story, and to start with, "secondly." Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have and entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story.
Start with "secondly", but don't mention that's where you're starting.
I'm fairly certain that's one of the devices that is employed to implement that insidious and ubiquitous thing that is called invisibling.
I'm quite interested in that stuff called invisibling because it seems to be a core feature in the operation of oppression. And oppression is all about power and power...as Chimamanda Ngoze Adichie references it is about hierarchy...and hierarchy is about 'superior' and 'inferior' and those two are all about domination and subordination.
Domination and subordination is a core component of every "ism" of oppression I can think of. I believe that's accurate...let me know if you think differently or more or or or. Each manifestation of oppression is unique in the form it takes and in the ramifications for those targeted...but common elements also seem to be present in each unique implementation of that awful stuff.
And...remember...none are free unless all are free.
None are free unless all are free is a statement of intersectionality (I think) and I recently heard the observation that all liberation movements up until now have failed precisely because they were not intersectional. I suspect that is true.
You also might notice how that stuff of starting a story with "secondly" (but not saying so) fits nicely with the the post I wrote about stripping away history and context and how that can make you totally mis-comprehend what's going on.
Remember, it was "good" (white) people who supported the monsters who did the Holocaust in Europe. It was "good" (white) people who "settled" the United States, it was "good" (white) people who implemented and allowed human enslavement in the United States, it was "good" (white) people who implemented and allowed Jim Crow in the United States and the current awfuls inflicted on people of color here, it is "good" people who are complicit in every horror enacted by humans in the whole history of humans.
Remember...identifying the awfuls of someone else doesn't make you a better person. Your job is to work on yourself...while resisting the awfuls of others.
For you vegans, remember, it is "good" people who are complicit in and who participate in the killing of billions of our sister/brother Earthlings. You all know a bunch of them and the better you know how you were able to be complicit in that will mean you can maybe be more effective at transforming them. Study your own transformation to understand so that you can carry it to others.
And I'm coming to believe that part (maybe the main part) of how these "good" people maintain the fantasy of their "goodness" (I'm fully culpable here too) is via these processes of invisibling.
If I keep on reading and thinking and listening, I just might get to a place of semi-coherent comprehension about how we humans go about implementing inequalities and horror and how we keep them in place...all the while seeing ourselves as "good" people.
Maybe I'll get there. With your assistance...maybe we all can get there because the better we comprehend oppression and how it works...the better we can resist it.
Go listen/watch her. She's a treasure...and she's my gift to you. You're welcome.
P.S....I didn't come up with this observation...Cicero did...and I'll share it with you because it is a gem.
Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child (and not a child in a good way).
We are all shaped and created by our histories and it is our job to learn those histories so that we can make our own choices instead of being controlled by the choices of those who came before us. If we fail to do that...then we will simply contribute to enacting and creating the world of their choices...not those of our own.
(and remember, a lot of a**holes made many of those choices and our enacting their choices means we're behaving like a**holes)
P.P.S. So far, as far as I can tell, ...the one grouping of humans that seems to hold the greatest amount of wisdom about liberation and oppression is...African American women. That's another gift for you. If you aren't hanging around some of these wonderful humans...you're genuinely missing out. (Keep in mind, I'm painting in broad strokes here, exceptions will occur but we're talking/thinking in general or on average...ok?)