Oppression and Lo Cotidiano

What? Iris Marion Young defines oppression as “the exercise of tyranny by a ruling group” (P1) she further explains oppression by saying “Oppression can be the result of a few people’s choices or policies that cause embedded unquestioned norms, habits, and symbols. These societal rules can become an restrictive structure of forces and barriers that immobilize and reduce a group or category of people.” (P1) Young also offers a shorter definition fo oppression in saying, “oppression is when people reduce the potential for other people to be fully human. In other words, oppression is when people make other people less human” which could mean “treating them in a dehumanizing manner” and denying people language, education, and other opportunities that might make them become fully human in both mind and body.” (P2). Ada Isasi-Diaz defines and explains the concept of Oppression as “injustice…from the perspective of those suffering” There are also “different causes” of oppression, “which are interrelated but do not operate in the same way”. And these causes are “exploitation, marginalization, ethnoracism, powerlessness, and structural violence” (The Oppressed-P1). When Isasa-Diaz refers to herself as oppressed and impoverished she means “those who are conscious of their oppression and who struggle for their liberation, taking into consideration their communities.” (P3) She classifies herself as such because she is “a middle-class Latina and though [she has] suffered economic exploitation…, being middle class can easily lead [her] to ignore poverty” and “consciously mentioning the impoverished is a way of reminding [herself] that [she has] to struggle for societal changes even if such changes will ‘cost [her]’ some of the economic advantages and privileges [she has] being a middle-class Latina.” (P2) Even though she is fortunate to be in the middle class, she still suffers consequences of being a Latina (such as less pay than her male counterparts) and she knows and recognizes that the world is not perfect and she still has to fight for “societal changes”.

So What? lo cotidiano refers to the “immediate space-time and place- of daily life, the first horizon of our experiences, in which our experiences take place” (Lo Cotidiano P.4) The significance of observing and articulating of the day-to-day, lo cotidiano experiences is that “the embodied quality of lo cotidiano is consciously important to the oppressed and the impoverished” (P5). Lo cotidiano also “has to do with the practices and beliefs that we have inherited, and with those habitual judgments that are part of our ‘facing life’, of how we face and what we do with our reality”(P6). Observing lo cotidiano helps us to understand our reality, what goes on around us, and what makes us us. It helps you to be more aware of what is happening in your world and why.

To me, my daily mundane reality is school and work, but I know that by going to these, I am bettering my future. When I finally graduate, I’ll have the skills and degree to get a career, and the money I’m making now with the job that I have saves up for a car and rent money.

Now What? Some ways I could start to observe lo cotidiano experiences in the lives of people I work with in the community are taking with them and gaining their understanding of their reality, and keeping that in mind. Everyone’s reality, though they may have many similarities, are not the same. We do not know what people are truly going through. You gain a better understanding from talking with them, but you don’t truly know what it is like to live in someone else’s shoes, but trying to see things from their perspective gives you an idea. Another way would be to observe their behavior and see how they react to what is going on around them so I can understand how they view the world around them, how they view their current reality.