The Tree of Getting Free

On November 9th, in an effort to process my thoughts on the outcome of the election, I wrote a post about the interrelatedness of the oppression of (white) Jews with the oppression of many other groups in American society.  Since then, I've been doing a lot of thinking about how best to help others understand this concept so that they can see the shared root of our struggles and connect across lines of difference to work for justice  

In my training work, I've found that pictures can often explain a concept in ways that words can't - and that they're more memorable.  I woke up on Thanksgiving with the idea to create a visual representation of this idea and what came out of it is the image you see here.  This "Tree of Getting Free" depicts how racism, xenophobia, and Christian hegemony (and all of the oppressions related to these) all come from the same root, which is white supremacy.  When we hear white supremacy, we often think only of men in white hoods.  When I use it in this context, however, I'm suggesting that white supremacy isn't just those overt acts of hatred. It is the entire system of policies, laws, customs, and beliefs that our society was established on which have continued over the course of our country's history and set white, Christians (especially white Christian heterosexual cisgender men without disabilities) as the norm and establish negative consequences for anyone who doesn't fall into that category.  It's a system that we're all a part of, not because we choose or want to be, but because it permeates the very fabric of our society.  In order to address all of the oppressions at the top, we need to get to the root of them - and the best way to do that is to come together with other communities and fight together for safety and justice.

You may notice that around the tree is a vine with some other forms of oppression such as homophobia and transphobia.  While these types of oppression don't grow from the same root, they are symbiotic and often occur with racism, xenophobia and Christian hegemony and visual portrayal that didn't include these, seemed incomplete.

Hopefully this visual illustration is helpful to you in exploring these concepts.  Feel free to leave a note in the comments if you have any feedback on it, as it's a work in progress.

 "The Tree of Getting Free"

"The Tree of Getting Free"