Oppression is an endless tunnel
Currently, nine states in the U.S. allow same-sex marriage. Several weeks ago, the first black president was inaugurated for the second time. These milestones broadcast societal progress in the face of oppression; to highlight the major social issues at play here and beyond, the UA held its 16th annual Tunnel of Oppression this past Monday and Tuesday.
Like others attending, I had expected to gain some insight into oppression after touring the Tunnel, but I don’t believe this event affected me the way it was intended to. The scenes and monologues I saw performed didn’t teach me anything I didn’t know before, and I don’t believe they will raise awareness about oppression in our society, either.
There’s a vital difference between complete blindness and turning a blind eye, and society is often guilty of the latter. Whether we feign ignorance, or are causing it, we’re aware of our actions and their ramifications. Once that truth is acknowledged, we realize that the “light at the end of the tunnel” will always be followed by another tunnel.
I do applaud the goal of the Tunnel crew, as we need efforts like this, but I wonder about its overall impact.
The hate still exists; it permeates our society, and all we have to show for our efforts of resistance are fluctuating statistics. The ultimate goal should be a proactive attempt at force society to face the oppression it is perpetuating.
As an Asian born in this country, I do not face the same obstacles as those who migrate here. I don’t have to deal with the challenges of learning a new language or integrating into a foreign culture. However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been stereotyped based on my appearance.
This doesn’t bother me. I shrug it off because I’ve never felt that the racism towards people of my ethnicity was personal.
But my dismissal makes these racist jokes acceptable. I myself am guilty of turning a blind eye.
My expectations when going into the Tunnel didn’t match the conclusion I left with. It took me somewhere darker than I would’ve liked, but sometimes darkness is where reality resides. I’m not condoning prejudice and intolerance. The extent of the cruelty they lead to is sickening, but I understand that it is not in man’s nature to just accept the differences between us. This is not how it should be, but it is true.
We’re a society dependent upon labels because of an inherent need to define ourselves. The labels we adhere to show our differences, and those differences are what make us human and allow for innovation and culture. The African American culture is famous for the Harlem Renaissance and its contribution to Hip-Hop, which is now even offered as a minor at the UA. LGBTQ groups holds pride parades worldwide that attract crowds of over 500,000. Different races, ethnicities and sexualities have inspired rich and unique cultures, but these differences also inspire hate crimes.
There will be no end. It is because of our need for revenge, our inability to deal with sensitive issues and the lack of empathy from those who are born privileged that there will always be another tunnel to face.
— Kimberlie Wang is a physiology freshman. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on twitter via @WildcatOpinions