Inclusive Language Series: Internalized Oppression

For this week’s edition of our Inclusive Language Series, we will be taking a look at “Internalized Oppression.”

First, we must examine what “Oppression” means. Oppression is the act of a group or institutionalized entity placing severe restrictions on an individual or group. Through these restrictions, the oppressed individual or group is undermined by privileges and resources while other groups benefit at the expense of the oppressed. Examples of oppression include denial of civil rights, lack of adequate access to education, and discrimination in housing and employment opportunities.

Moving to “Internalized Oppression,” it is a concept in which the oppressed group accepts and reaffirms the negative stereotypes made against them. When someone struggles with internalized oppression, they believe their marginalized group’s trait(s) limits their social reach and reproduces harmful behavioral patterns to the rest of society. The phenomenon can manifest itself as a result of intergenerational trauma that the group has experienced. In turn, internalized racism, homophobia, and sexism can also emerge from the perception of internalized oppression.

If we hope to help those experiencing internalized oppression, we must demonstrate an active commitment to diversity, equality, and inclusion. Do not participate in the bystander effect and believe others will deal with inequalities. Instead, take action by checking your own implicit biases. First, strive for a growth mindset and learn about the cause of the implicit biases, as these are often the result of stereotypes constructed about other groups. Embrace diverse perspectives by contributing positively to messaging and views of marginalized groups.

Now, it is everyone’s responsibility to challenge and dismantle cultural stereotypes, as it will take a collective effort to undo the years, decades, or centuries of harm that afflicted marginalized groups.

Resources to learn more:

Upcoming Holidays & Observances

  • Arab American Heritage Month
  • Genocide Awareness Month
  • Autism Acceptance Month
  • Deaf History Month
  • April 10, 2024: Eid Al-Fitr (Islamic) — The “Feast of the Breaking of the Fast” marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting from dawn until dusk.
  • April 12, 2024: The Day of Silence — during which students take a daylong vow of silence to protest the actual silencing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) students and their straight allies due to bias and harassment.
  • April 13, 2024: Vaisakhi (also spelled Baisakhi) (Sikh) — The festival which celebrates the founding of the Sikh community as the Khalsa (community of the initiated). On this day, Sikhs gather and celebrate Vaisakhi at their local Gurdwaras (Sikh house of worship) by remembering this day as the birth of the Khalsa.