When reading this passage I began think about just how trivial words can really be. The idea that a Haiku with only 17 syllables can be used to describe or draw up a complex human emotion is very powerful to me. So often we find ourselves talking and talking and talking without saying anything at all. At the bottom of it all words really are worthless. Words are not universal and only hold as much value as the listener interprets them to have. In this world there is only one thing that really has value and that is emotions or experiences. As described by this reading the Haiku limits the use of language in describing experiences. The experience and emotions are what is important in any poetry or performance and words may only get in the way. This reading also reminded me of what I read about two weeks ago (I think) about the power of performance as it’s own universal language. Again. words may only get in the way of allowing an audience to experience a performance. Ballet also reminds me of this principle. When I witch people dance I feel connected to their performance without even hearing them speak.

theatre of the oppressed

One idea I found particularly interesting from this reading is the idea that people can communicate through many different languages including the arts. It is sad to think that nowadays we have destroyed this notion. We have made communication so narrow by limiting it to speech and often times to only one acceptable language in a society. As the reading suggests this way of thinking greatly limits our understanding of reality and damages out perception of life.

People are more whole, or more human, when they have a deeper more diverse understanding of life. The ALFIN project seems to be a unique way of helping people connect to their natural state of curiosity and a natural desire to understand the world from many different angles. Teaching people to read and communicate with each other is only an honorable goal if we aim to teach them to communicate in many different languages (including the arts) and help them to become well rounded whole people.

Dialectic Tensions

As I was reading “Organizing for Social Change (p. 53-63) I couldn’t help thinking back to a special that I watched on the History Channel last night. This History Channel special was about surviving the zombie apocalypse and was entitled Zombies: A Living History. Now I know this sounds silly but hear me out. On the show several authors, historians, and anthropologists discussed how the idea of a “zombie” has developed throughout the course of history and the way that we depict zombies in books and films (performances) as the greatest threat that we could ever face as a human race. The show explores our underlying fear of losing civilization and having to rebuild from scratch. The groups discussed in “Organizing for Social Change” have in many ways lost their civilization and are being forced to rebuild through actions that promote social change.
First in Organizing for social change (or rebuilding after civilization/our humanity) is lost we must look at the dialectic tension of control and emancipation. The reading discusses the idea that without control, structure, and rules the oppressed cannot truly become emancipated from their situation. This is also true in the case of a zombie apocalypse. If we are going to rebuild after the zombies attack we must have structure in order to rebuild a society otherwise we will be forever on the run trapped by our fear of being consumed by zombies and our inability to coexist peacefully with our fellow survivors. In the same way victims of oppression, such as the homeless Appalachian people discussed in the reading, are trapped, without structure and rules, by their primal need to survive by whatever means necessary.

Second, the reading discusses the tension between oppression and empowerment. In organizing for social change we must acknowledge that some things exist that can be both empowering and oppressing and we must look at these things in an empowering light. The reading discusses women veiling their faces and how this is a historically oppressive symbol but also makes women feel respected and honorable. Some similar scenarios exist when discussing the zombie apocalypse. Being a farmer, care taker, or skilled worker in a post-apocalyptic society places a person low on the totem pole of the new society that is forming which is oppressive to them but can also be empowering because one, they are providing services that are allowing the group to survive and two, they still beat the zombies by staying alive.

Third, the reading discusses the tension between dissemination and dialogue and how these two things can coexist beautifully. A group working to escape their oppression must discuss how to do this and their vision of social change amongst themselves in order to develop a plan of action that satisfies all members of the group. However, it is not necessary that all of their ideas be dreamed up independently of the oppressor. The oppressed may take an idea of the oppressor’s and change it to fit their needs. In a zombie apocalypse we may want to rebuild a society that is similar to what we had before but it is important that, since they have the opportunity, the survivors discuss among themselves ways to change what we had before and rebuild a better, more fair society in the post-apocalyptic world.

Last, the reading discusses the the tension between fragmentation and unity and how they both may exist within a community of the oppressed. Fragmentation will always exist to some degree because people will always have their own beliefs and opinions. However, this does not mean that unity cannot also exist. In the example of Bill in the reading Bill feels connected to the overall community but does not feel like one part of the community understands him. This is acceptable in any group. In an post-apocalyptic situation people will, for the most part, feel unified under the desire to survive while they may still feel separated from individual survivors that they may not agree with. This is completely acceptable as long as the unifying goal (whether it be liberation or not being eaten) is held at a higher importance than any fragmenting opinions.


“Zombies: A Living History” mentions a group that exists now in real life called Zombie Squad that goes around training people to survive a disaster (zombies or otherwise). This group emphasizes the importance of skills needed for rebuilding a society, which often times are the skills needed to liberate the oppressed. I have included a link to their website her as my media link.


The symbol of “Mother” is discussed in the poem.  The symbol of a mother being strong and working hard and the idea of all of these voices coming together under the “mother” are present in this poem.  The last few lines call on the idea of humanity and “mother” is today, and always has been a symbol closely associated with humanity.  This symbol does not change.

However, some symbols do change over time.  One symbol that I believe is particularly interesting in this regard is that of the rainbow.  Today the rainbow is usually associated with homosexuality where as in the past it has been a symbol of peace or calm after a storm.  At one point it was also a symbol for justice and equality for all ( the Rainbow Coalition).  I have a tattoo with a rainbow as a part of it and whenever people see it they always assume it has something to do with my sexual orientation and it has an entirely different meaning for me.    Different people get to share different meanings for symbols.

Teachers Serving the Oppression

As an education major I have observed the practice of “banking education” many many times and have never been a fan of it.  While many young and pre-service teachers now are trying to move past traditional teaching practices( to more discovery-based practices I fear that even these methods will be serving the oppression in this country .  It is always the case that the oppressors make the rules in any society which includes the regulation of education.  This being the case I don’t see how students can be educated, at least not in mainstream education, in a way that does not serve the oppressor. As a future teacher I do not wish to dehumanize my students but after reading this I am afraid that I will not be able to avoid doing just that, if I follow the rule that is.