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Freire and "fear of freedom"

Sarah's picture

I've read Freire before in other education classes, though usually in smaller sections at a time.  I generally like theory based readings, but found myself having to relate to the real world to stay focused and really understand what Freire was saying.  I thought about how relevant his discussion of the fear of freedom (page 46), which creates the binary of oppressor and oppressed, is visible in many American movements, which makes his work all the more powerful to me because he wasn't intending to write about America specifically.  This leads me to believe his theories are applicable even outside the US, which is impressive.  On page 44 he writes, "In order for this struggle to have meaning, the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity (which is a way to create it), become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of humanity in both.  This reminds me of the feminist movement.  I think some people fear that women are trying to conquer men, but the reality is that the feminist movement "restores humanity to both" men and women by allowing women to no longer be oppressed (for example, equal pay) and also so that men are no longer forced to be oppressors (for example, men would be allowed to express feelings and emotions more freely).  He also discussed, on page 45, that "in the initial stage of struggle" the oppressed tend to become oppressors, rather than striving for liberation altogether.  This reminds me of how poor white people oppressed blacks during times of slavery rather than working together and rising up against wealthy whites.  This fear of being oppressed makes people desperate, and they see the hierarchy as insurmountable, so rather than strive for liberation (if liberation can even be imagined), they strive to be a little higher up in the hierarchy because that is both easier and more likely to be attained.  It’s understandable to an extent and sad at the same time.