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Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed: Book Summary Essay

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Throughout the second half of this course, we have read many books that highlight and talk about oppression. Each of these books and film shows different types of oppression as well as different outcomes for the oppression. Some of these books and films show that forgiving your oppressor, can be very beneficial and empowering for the oppressed. These stories have been eye-opening to things that I have not read about and shown me lots of different points of view. There are theories that talk about oppression and how it impacts both the oppressor and the oppressed.

In the book The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire talks about how he saw oppression in two stages. He talks about the first stage as” the oppressed unveil the world of oppression and through the praxis commit themselves to its transformation” (p. 54). After this transformation, Freire describes the second stage as for how people engage and commit to “the expulsion of the myths created and developed in the old order” (p. 55). Both of these stages are important to Freire’s theory because later he talks about how both the oppressor as well as the oppressed have a consciousness about both of their roles in oppression. Both groups can see how they fit into the world and how they are looked at by the world as well. They both also see how they not only look at themselves but how they look back at the world. Behaviors like fear, beliefs, and ethics play a huge part in this theory because these behaviors drive the oppressed and the oppressors to look at the world in the way they do.

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Freire first talks about what he refers to as “the oppressor consciousness” and how they are usually have born privilege. This consciousness of this oppression is talked about as the craving of wanting to be in control of things like other people. In this article, I read about this book it talked about the necessity of conquest and there is a part that states,”The oppressor consciousness, Freire pointed out, equates its ‘being’ with ‘having’ – and being in the class of the ‘haves’. It craves to possess and dominate – things, people – indeed, the entire world. And in this unrestrained voracity to have more, it ends us reducing life – plants, animals and even humans – to ‘objects’ that exist for his profit and plunder.”(Freire,2000) This quote reminded me a lot of the book and how Freire talks about “ the oppressor consciousness”. Relating to that quote Freire talks about how the oppression then talks about how they want to keep those who are oppression isolated from everything else. Then Freire talks about the oppressors manipulating the oppressed to keep their upper hand to maintain control. One other thing that Freire mentions in this book is the cultural invasion and how oppressors convince the oppressed that they have automatic inferiority. Freire then goes on to talk about the “oppressed consciousness” and how the oppressed are just as aware as the oppressors. Freire talks about how the oppressed seem to fear freedom because they do not know what it would be like for them when their unchangeable reality became changeable.

This book really related to the El Che which we discussed earlier in the course and this book had a lot of similarities to Freire and El Che’s way of thinking about oppression. They both wanted to fight oppression but did it in a different way. Freire is a teacher and he feels his part in education is a progressive one. Freire sees a diminishing lower class being kept around an oppressive and privileged class just intrigued by keeping their power. Freire sees this oppression as wrong and he needs to take care of. His way of standing up for what he believes in a positive manner is through his knowledge and education and not by reverting to physical violence. He expresses, \” any situation in which some men prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence;…to alienate humans from their own decision making is to change them into objects.\” Freire states that oppression is deep to the point that the lower class isn\’t being recognized as human.

In the film, Long Night’s Journey into Day, mothers of sons that were killed by police violence come together to discuss their journey and how they were dealing with oppression. This film was a documentary about seven young men and they had been set up, betrayed and killed by police in Africa. The mothers of these young men who had been wrongfully killed were given the opportunity to meet with Thapelo Mbelo, who was one of the officers that murdered their sons. These mothers sit down and talk about experiences with this oppression and how they dealt with the deaths of their children. This film also had a connection to the last book The Pedagogy of the Oppressed because it talked about the theory of the “oppressor consciousness”. The officer Mbelo talks about when he shot one of the young men and he says that he saw the young man’s hand in the air, but shot him anyway. This connected to Freier talking about how the oppressor used the excuse of automatic inferiority to use force unnecessarily.

One of the mothers spoke about the young man who was shot in the head despite his blatant surrendering. She asks Mbelo many questions with respect to how he feels about the impacts of his action, including seeing himself on video and the compromising his ethics for payment. Mbelo claims that he was not given a choice and was told to make the decisions he made because he was being closely watched by white people that he answered to. After that the following mother talks about how their sons were human and should have been protected by police regardless of what they looked like. The police officers were accomplishing something ghastly which would soon place them in a bad position, yet Mbelo took after their conduct at any means possible. She keeps on getting some information about how his conscious as she asks him question after question. Genuinely and profoundly offended, she describes how her child was dragged with a rope when police were clearing the bodies. She approaches him questions that challenge  who now will pay for her grandchildren to go to school, or who provide for his family. The third mother starts by expressing to Mbelo that his face is one that she will always remember, and that she will never forgive him for what he did. She speaks of how while her son was always working for freedom, Mbelo worked for the Boers. It was then that the second mother interrupts and added in that after many times of saying Melo’s first name in hatred, this time saying his name, she remembers that, his name Thapelo, signifies \”forgiveness\”. This rouses her Christian religion to help her achieve forgiveness for Mbelo. She expresses that her child is now dead and that there is nothing anyone especially Mbelo, can do to bring him back. This mother then states that at the point when Jesus was on the cross, he advised his follower to pardon the individuals who had committed sin. She says that she found it within herself and her religion to forgive him since she needs to dispose of this weight she was conveying inside, and that it is God\’s will and testament which matters solely when judgement day comes. She then concludes her doing in the conversation by wishing Mbelo well and she forgave him for his wrongdoings.

In the book, A Human Being Died That Night Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela discusses her records and meetings with state-ordered mass killer Eugene De Kock. The book also incorporates stories and meetings from criminals and victims on the two sides of the racial gap. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela is inspired to visit Eugene De Kock in jail where he is serving 212 years for his crimes after she goes to a PRC trial that really sticks with her. Pumla explains De Kock\’s crimes as crimes against humankind and humility and after she meets with him that she starts to think about the meaning of being a human. Pumla starts to express her deeply rooted compassion for the individuals who fell into the brutality of the apartheid government.

There is a part in the book when Pumla states that, “ nothing can ever reverse injustices committed against others. But an apology pronounced in the context of horrible acts has the potential for transformation. It clears or ‘settles’ the air in order to begin reconstructing the broken connections between two human beings.”. Pumla talks about how when through the PRC apology and forgiveness happened that there became more conversations between the people who generally would have still been filled and consumed by hate.  Forgiveness is a huge part of A Human Being Died That Night as well as in the nation of South Africa all in all. The Peace and Reconciliation commission give individuals on the two sides of the racial violence the chance to stand up and assume liability for what they have done. In doing as such it offers closure to the individuals who were influenced by the violence and gives them the chance to comprehend and forgive. Pumla is an individual from the Human Rights Violations Committee which is a piece of the Peace and Reconciliation Commission. She has a great understanding of the concept of forgiveness as a great and effective power and the way for individuals to push ahead from extraordinary injustices and human catastrophe.

While reading this A Human Died That Night, there was talk and themes about the topic of evil and how there were many meanings and interpretations of the word. Evil is accomplishing something that is significantly unethical. In various societies, beliefs, and cultures it can be interpreted in various ways. In Christianity, there is a strict line draw between what is good and what is evil. In different religions, a particular thing can be good to one person and bad to another, it just depends upon how it is seen. Essentially, nothing is good or evil it just is. In A Human Being Died That Night and Long Night\’s Journey into Day evil can be found with regards to prejudice and how most people are able to concur that racism is evil. Harboring hatred towards somebody because of something they can\’t control or change isn\’t right. The obvious reaction to evil is to get irate and have the need to fight back against the individual or group that conferred the evil act however that will not take care of the issue. It is still unknown as to how to react to evil on the grounds that it appears like regardless of how one reacts it will proceed until the point when the culprit acknowledges what they are doing isn\’t right. This backpedals to the possibility that individuals see good and evil in various ways. The best way to truly stop evil is to teach the individual or group and challenge  them to look the outcomes of their actions and how it impacts others. It is conceivable to forgive evil on the grounds that in the event that you don\’t you will never find a sense of contentment or peace. It is an important thing so you can move on with your life.

The film Korengal is about the journey of men who are American soldiers and the journey of their deployment through the “death valleys”. This film describes through the perspective of the soldiers their emotions and experiences throughout their military experience. In this film, the soldiers were sent to help the oppressed get out of their horrible situation. There was a very faint sense of oppression throughout the whole film.

Oppression throughout all of these films and book was very predominant but was more predominant in certain stories. A Human Being Died That Night and Long Night\’s Journey into Day let us see that forgiving person who has harmed us or somebody we are close to or that is important to us can influence us to feel powerless and anxious. To forgive that person, you draw on your inward qualities. In Long Night\’s Journey into Day the moms draw upon their profound love for their children keeping in mind the end goal to forgive the man who killed them. I think they additionally understand that the loathe or hate they have clutched for such a large number of years does not help them and they have the need to accomplish something so they can find a sense of contentment or peace once more. A comparable thing happens in A Human Being Died That Night. Throughout all of these books and films, there have been great lessons on way oppression happens and some of the ways that we can change within ourselves and our communities.

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