From the fall of 2008 to the spring of 2010, I took a graduate course in the practice of social work against oppression. Although I have some learning, I have a better understanding of equity work from my life experience.
Although I graduated from MSW with an A average, and the professors said goodbye to me, hoping that they would see me studying for a PhD in the future, I still have a lot of knowledge about anti-oppression practices to learn.
The evolution of my understanding of fairness developed when I was oppressed, usually oppressed by people expected to know better, and this promoted my commitment to ethical relationships.
The concern for good faith justifies the many atrocities committed by those in power, despite the harm they have caused. For example, the prime minister of the country where I live often declares that he is committed to truth and reconciliation, but continues to harm indigenous children.
These violations taught me to consider any privileges I have in handling personal and professional relationships, especially when I am personally hurt by those who fail to do so.
Although power dynamics are often more obvious to me when I have little advantage, I am committed to critically thinking about situations where my relative control over others can cause harm.
Recently, I had the opportunity to write my first cultural article for a feminist magazine about how the media continues to lack BIPOC representation. In my excitement, I realized that I mentioned my niece on the court to show that there has been little change from my generation to hers, without asking her if she would let me share this story.
Although her mother is not too worried because I explained that I will not use her name or photo in the work, it is very important for me to obtain her consent before commissioning. After explaining the situation, she assured me that she didn’t mind, but paying attention to relatives who are less powerful than me is still my top priority.
Despite trying to be ethical, social work taught me the need to be responsible for injuries, because this can happen even with my best efforts, so I also incorporated this into the way I handle interpersonal relationships in my personal life .
What does it mean when a loved one is struggling and I prioritize my desire to help, even though it may not be consistent with their preferences? Unfortunately, this means I might hurt them by prioritizing my needs.
I have served as a child development consultant, mental health therapist, and accessibility consultant. I do like to support others, but what I must learn is that if I fail to do so, sometimes my interest in helping may take precedence over what I am The needs of loved ones turn this on.
Especially as an obese, queer, and disabled Indian-Trinidad immigrant woman and social worker, she has now survived many times of white supremacist workplace harassment. I know how traumatic history will affect me and the most The ability of well-intentioned white people to communicate personally.
Armed with this knowledge, I noticed that the oppression of my loved ones may make it difficult for them to interact with me, so I tried to make room for their needs, especially when they are more marginalized than me. This may mean that sometimes a Muslim, Black, Aboriginal, or transgender relative needs to feel safe in this relationship rather than my comfort.
When I look back at the relationship I felt most violated, their power over me and how they abused it, especially with powerful white social workers, tended to exacerbate the relationship.
As my understanding of power and oppression continues to evolve, so does my commitment to ethical and fair relationships. If a more marginalized relative needs my help, I will be aware of these developments, and I make it clear that there is no expectation for any help I provide.
Unfortunately, as the eldest daughter of a single immigrant mother, although she has been estranged since 2007, I can easily recall her guilty trip, so I am not interested in the relationship caused by the imbalance of power.
This is why I think critically about my requirements for relatives who may be more oppressed than me, because I want white people to be more ethical in managing our relationship, but this is why I am close to so few in 2021.
Although consent has become a more normalized part of the discourse in some ways, I am passionate about managing relationships with more marginalized relatives, and they always feel safe to refuse my request.
I share my approach to dealing with ethical and fair relationships because other people fail to use their power dutifully and it hurts me. Unless I am willing to invest further, I have also committed similar violations.
Compared to your loved ones, you may never have paid so much attention to your relative power and oppression. Nevertheless, especially if these differences are large, they may have to do this work to guide your unconsciousness.
Just as power dynamics have an impact on a more important level, they are equally influential in personal relationships with loved ones, which is why they deserve more attention to ensure that we strive to minimize harm.
Maya Angelou once said: “Do your best until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Understand and promote better relationships with your loved ones. Moral, fair relationship, what will we do?
Compared with the people we deeply care about, if we have relative power, we also have the responsibility to break the cognitive dissonance, because our more marginalized relatives have problematic status quo.