A Primer on Meta-Oppression from a Philosopher

Loyola University Chicago Associate Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair Jacqueline Scott, PhD recently visited the school to speak with juniors about the concept of “meta-oppression.”

Every year in their year-long Civic Lab program, juniors have the challenge of discovering how citizens can fight injustice, solve inequity and achieve social justice. This year, teachers invited Scott, a current parent, to speak with juniors to inform their ongoing work in their respective Civic Lab groups for the remainder of the year.

Scott’s research and teaching focuses on the formation (and malformation) of racialized identities in the U.S., and therefore how our racialized identities have helped (and hindered) the art of living for individuals and various communities.

Scott advanced the idea that focus on “curing” anti-Black racism, and the failure to do so in the civil rights era and its aftermath, has left people of all races, to varying degrees, stuck in pessimistic states of racialized anger, resentment, guilt and shame. She asserted these pessimistic states have brought about an additional level of oppression for targets of racialized oppression, which she referred to as “meta-oppression,” or the oppression of being oppressed.

Scott pointed out that this oppression has worsened the effects of the social disease of racism and offered students suggestions on a healthier role for racial identities in overcoming meta-oppression and creating meaningful lives.

Following Scott’s remarks, students worked in small groups to discuss ways they might connect Scott’s remarks with the ongoing work in their Civic Lab group.

Parker thanks Dr. Scott for taking the time to share with students and History teacher Andy Bigelow for arranging this opportunity.

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.