Just as the moon blocks out the sun during a total eclipse, oppression blocks out authentic democracy.
Racism, misogyny, homophobia, ableism and other forms of institutional and cultural oppression have been used throughout US history to impede self-expression, self-identification and many other forms of self-determination. Common strategies by oppressors have been to pit oppressed groups against one another (e.g. divide and conquer), blame the victim(s), and/or cooptation.
Oppression is social, economic and political. It’s taken the form in the past of slavery sanctioned by the Constitution, attempted genocide of native peoples by the U.S. government, lynchings, systemic rape, broken treaty promises, beatings, arrests “for being black,” voter suppression, internments, income disparity, deportations, media distortions, lack of physical access, and housing, education and employment discrimination. Too many of these still exist.
Authentic self-determination, individually or collectively, is difficult to achieve when these and any other form of oppression originate by individuals. It’s impossible when societal structures and institutions overtly or covertly initiative and defend them, which legitimize if not legalize individual oppressive acts.
Efforts to create real democracy must face oppression head on. Unlike natural eclipses that are beyond out control, oppression that eclipses democracy is human-created. Oppression is not inevitable or irreversible. It’s not “God’s will.” Oppression must be resisted and replaced by structures and actions that create justice and peace.
While appropriate reactions to natural eclipses should be to safely watch with wonder and awe, passive spectating to human oppression is not an option. Being active change-agents, done best with others in social movements seeking and end to oppression and the creation of real self-determination (for the very first time) is the only responsible response.