Recognizing the Transformative Power of Collective Anger

One of the greatest tragedies that the oppressed have been forced to endure and subsequently internalize is the denial of the legitimacy of their feelings and emotional responses to their oppressions. The oppressed is denied the right to their emotions signifying a disastrous break between the body and the mind so that feelings like anger and pain become corrosive, cloying, suffocating, oxidizing, deteriorating the collective body and conscience of the oppressed- calcifying feelings of hopelessness and self hatred. But when expressed! when expressed collectively, like the greatest symphony of love ever composed they destroy violent, colonial empires and produce foundations of an entirely new world!

This is why the oppressed reclaiming their emotions, especially the right to anger is one of the greatest liberation tools at our disposal precisely because the oppressors, the colonizers, the ruling, elite classes recognize the transformative power of collective anger, collective pain.

And because they fear it so much an alternative counter narrative is produced for us by the oppressors. We are supposed to find democratic, peaceful, neat, quite, sanitary ways of expressing our outrage and dissatisfaction in the most violently oppressive systems geared against us. We are supposed to allow even our spilling blood to fall within the borders of the System’s predefined borders- like good little infantile subjects coloring within the borders. In systems that leave no avenues for peaceful protest. In systems where the prisons are filled to the brim with our people, our children, our activists, our democratically elected leaders. In systems where the prisons are so full that they start filling sports stadiums with us. In systems where our public executions and hanging has turned into the favorite national sport. In systems where online activism, let alone street activism, is enough to get you killed, or worse disappeared forever with your fate unknown. In systems where they even bomb our cemeteries, after they have erased every trace of our cities, for fear of what the remnants could do to our collective living memory, collective consciousness. They want sanitary responses in unsanitary systems. Democratic responses in undemocratic systems. Peaceful expressions of dissatisfaction in violent systems. The onus of a rational, reasonable, peaceful, humane response is on the oppressed, even as they are killed in the most violent, reprehensible, shocking ways that defies all the boundaries of human convention; even as they are painted and repackaged as wild, irrational, untamed, animal like, hysterical, rioting, unreasonable, ludicrous.

Worse still, those who claim to stand with us reproduce the same silencing ideologies against us. Speak of your suffering, they say, but be academic, be an anthropologist, a social scientist- anything but human- use unemotional statements so I can learn but not feel too uncomfortable. Speak of your dying people, the massacres and the genocides so that I can consume your pain for the purpose of expanding my academic/journalistic/cultural voyeurism interests because you are, at the end of the day, only a tool for my intellectual curiosity or charitable aspirations.

The oppressed, the colonized, the silenced have the right to their anger, to their representation and expression of their immense pain and suffering in anyway deemed appropriate- this includes “rioting”, this includes armed resistance, this includes reclaiming the very right to anger, the very right to feel and to express, and the right to break every single window, every single ideology and prison, every single brick, every single stone in the pathways and walkways of systems and institutions and states and societies that justifies their daily slaughter, daily murder, daily erasure of their very existence, and their subsequent pain and suffering.

The oppressed need to recognize that their survival mechanisms needs to expand towards the ways in which we have allowed ourselves, collectively to be colonized emotionally. And that our liberation psychology needs to embrace emotional responses that are wildly irrational, completely unacademic and unfit for public consumption, entirely self serving and perfectly, absolutely, unapologetically, utterly geared towards our healing,

and hence liberation.

Hawzhin Azeez

One thought on “Recognizing the Transformative Power of Collective Anger

  • January 6, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    You can certainly see your expertise in the paintings you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to say how they believe. At all times follow your heart.


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