Talking About Oppression

First, a nod to Tracy Chapman for her powerful and moving song “Talkin Bout a Revolution,” which came immediately to mind as I thought about writing this post.

I have been so very fortunate to have the opportunity to get to know and talk with a small group of young activists in this community in Central Mexico. We’ve been talking about oppression–about how oppression has developed over the course of human history, how it hit us when we were born into this society, how it continues to affect us today, and how to work to end oppression.


The young people in this village—like young people everywhere—are hit heavily by oppressive forces in the society. Messages that tell them who they should be, what they should do, how they should behave, and what their rewards will be if they conform.

We talked (in English and in Spanish) about how as babies we arrive here expecting to land in the world of our dreams.


Babies arrive fully human, and fully formed. Sure, we don’t have much experience with the world, but we know our own minds and we know what we want and what we need. It’s confusing when those around us don’t realize that and treat us as if we don’t have our own mind and free will.

babcia & lea

We expect to be welcomed, treated with respect, loved and held close. We expect our parents and the other adults (and young people) around us to be free of distress and to delight in our presence. We don’t realize that they already carry the scars of growing up and living in a oppressive society, filled with adultism, sexism, classism, racism and so on. If they hadn’t already been slammed by those isms, they would be much better able to “be there” for us, and to treat us as we deserve to be treated.


It was so fulfilling to me to get to speak to these young activists because I do respect the work they do and their success at conserving this community. There is a very committed group of activists in this community who continue a long legacy of maintaining community customs & traditions, as well as working to protect the villagers’ autonomy and right to self-determination.


Most recently, the local youth group, Frente Juvenile en Defensa de Tepoztlán helped organize brigades of volunteers to put out the forest fires in the mountains surrounding the town. Members of the group fought fires, built firebreaks, and solicited support for their activities by collecting food, water and tools for the volunteer firefighters.


I told these young adults that one of the first steps in fighting oppression is becoming aware of it and talking about it. Doing so is talking bout a revolution and it sounds like a whisper–but en voz alta. Out loud.


Photo credits: Jewish Federations of North America, Fonte Silvia Meo via Compfight


When have you stood up for a young person against oppressive pressures from school, society, or other adults? Do you remember an adult standing up for you when you were young? If you could return to your younger self today as an adult ally, what conversation would you have with her? How do you model human liberation for the people around you—especially but not only the younger generation?

If you are a young adult, when have you stood up for yourself? And what support would you like from your adult allies?

Chime in with your thoughts by clicking the blog post title above. This will bring you to the post page which offers the opportunity for your comments.

Self Care

Practicing self care.

A bowl of salad 

Let’s make the assumption that it makes as much sense for us to care for ourselves as it does for us to care for others. That taking care of ourselves is as important as taking care of others.


Yet we all know how easy it is to let self care get pushed aside. Although we often think of our society as the pinnacle of all societies—and I do believe in some ways it is a vast improvement over earlier economic systems such as feudalism and slavery—it is still quite hard on many, many people. In fact, it’s hard on all of us in different ways. One way it is hard on folks who work long hours, including both working- and middle-class workers, is that it robs us of our time. Including time that we would otherwise use for self care.

Power Yoga Video Class Extended Side Angle Pose - Utthita Parsvakonasana 

I am extremely fortunate that I don’t have the pressures of a 9 to 5 (or 8 to 6) job. I don’t need to punch the clock somewhere. But even so, I sometimes feel that I shouldn’t be taking time in the morning to do yoga. And recently I read about the benefits of taking a short nap (even 15 minutes) in the early afternoon–but how many of us can easily incorporate that into our workplace life?


So there are two examples–exercise and rest. What do you do for exercise? How often can you manage to make time in your schedule for physical activity? What pressures do you face in doing do? And as for rest, how much rest do you get? Do you sleep as much as your body needs?

What else falls in this category of self care? Our dietary habits. Attending to our medical needs. Making time for relaxation. Giving attention to our spiritual needs. Our emotional needs. Are there other needs that you can think of? Other ways we can take care of ourselves?

Photo credits: Anushruti RK via Compfight, Glen Scott via Compfight, My Yoga Online via Compfight, Alessandro Pinna via Compfight.


Dana hace Yoga en la Playa

PS. This is not me.

A yoga moment:

So I’m doing my audio yoga class and I’m working through my downward dogs, trying to breathe—you know, “breath in to where you need healing, etc, etc,” when I am struck by words the teacher says.

“Remember,” she says, in that relaxed yogic voice, Continue reading

Seeing Red at the “Madison Rising”

Thanks to Sarah White—neighbor, writing teacher, and friend—for allowing me to share this as Enjoy and Inspire’s first guest post!

Valentine’s Day 2013 saw women from around the globe take up the cause of ending sexual violence. From London to Los Angeles to Johannesburg, street exhibitions, dance performances and musical rallies were all held under the slogan “One Billion Rising.”

In Madison, Wisconsin, Sarah White participated in a flashmob at Hilldale Mall. Here is her personal account. Thanks for the inspiration, Sarah—and everyone who participated.

Congolese women cheer during the global rally "One Billion Rising", which is part of the V-Day event calling for an end to gender-based violence, in Bukavu
Hurried across town. Stuck in traffic on University Ave. a mile from Hilldale Mall, wondered if I was going to miss my 4.15 minutes of…fame? But I got there, 8 minutes to spare. Continue reading

Wife Insurance from a Jewelry Store!

Say what?

I was shocked to see this sign on Madison’s Capitol Square last year. I think I had to pick my jaw up from the sidewalk. “People think this is an acceptable way to sell jewelry?” I thought to myself.

Then I was offended: How dare this jewelry company imply that buying a woman an expensive diamond ring Continue reading

Comfort versus Growth

That Sadness That Requires Solitude 

“Theres no comfort in the growth zone and there’s no growth in the comfort in the growth zone.”

A lesson I learned in my time co-facilitating a class on identity and social justice at UW-Madison. Click here for a 4-minute student-produced video on the class.

I have to say, if discomfort is a sign of growth, I haven’t been growing this much since adolescence!

Continue reading