Social Movements: The Exhaustion of Oppressors


“Social Movements” taught by Professor Sandra McEvoy examines contexts where legislative attempts for change fail and grassroots movements emerge to influence change. Critically examines movements such as the uprisings in Egypt, LGBT movements and the US civil rights movement.

On October 15th, 2015, our class began watching A Good Day to Die about the American Indian Movement. What bothered me most about the movement is that nowhere in all of my 18 years of education and entertainment had I ever heard anything about this movement. This pushed me to think about how little I have heard about Native American people in general. From so many conversations about housing equality to education to erasure to representation to countless inequities in our country, the people who need to be heard most are the ones who are silenced the most.  This is such a pertinent theme in the movie. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, who we are raised to believe exist to protect people, creepily track and attempt to suppress and sometimes assassinate leaders such as Dennis Banks, in the American Indian Movement, or Bayard Rustin, in the African American Civil Rights Movement.

Social Movements has truly opened my eyes to the truth that the government exists to protect something but it is not often people, or at least not most of us. What is the FBI trying to protect? This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. It’s hard to think of anything other than greed and order. I wonder how tiring it can be to either hold desperately onto all the same misinformation and bigotry that doesn’t add up or to not believe in the propaganda that feeds a hateful world but continue to feed it to others for personal gain. If those who try to protect this worldview in white Americans, that we are the heroes who overcame Britain and everything we do is in the name of patriotism and God, let go of trying to quiet those who are screaming about the ways America is killing them, I think at the very least oppressors would get to rest for a little. If someone is kicking and screaming it is exhausting to hold your hand over their mouth till they can no longer tell the truth. Despite that real horrible oppression and silence, what the social movements like AIM have taught us is that there will always be someone else to scream and kick. Actually solving problems means peace and liberation for not only the oppressed but oppressors.

madeline lessingMadeline Lessing ’19 is a first year from Bristol, Rhode Island studying Political Science with a minor in Leadership. 

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