While diverse groups have existed in the world since the beginning of time, it was not until the twentieth-century that diversity had a place in society because of recognition of practices of subjugation because of movements for racism, class, gender, and sexual orientation. Each group had been subjugated at some point in history, and they remain victims in many areas today. Ferber, Jimenez, Herrera, and Samuels writes, “Equality and justice for all is one of the basic ideals of American society (18). While most groups are protected under American discrimination laws, there are groups all over the world who continue to be victims of discrimination because of religious, socio-economic, and political ideologies. Each group continues to fight for equal rights because of continued discrimination because of beliefs of privilege. Such discrimination exists in economic practices, political ideologies, unfair laws that imprison because of poverty or race, housing practices that segregate, and practices or perceptions from social beliefs and customs. So, it is little wonder that leaders have emerged to study and develop teaching strategies in oppression and diversity. One such group of Black feminist leaders, Patricia Hill Collins, Maxine Baca Zinn, and Bonnie Thorton Dill developed what they termed the Matrix of Domination allows each group to define specific differences to find relatable ideas where one can understand the other. By analyzing the Matrix of Domination, diverse groups will learn that oppression is defined by a group’s belief in power or privilege toward an opposing group and that it is the acting upon such privilege that further subjugates others in society.
Image 1: Matrix of Domination
The Matrix of Domination is a tool that defines areas where groups are often subjugated because of their conditions. Throughout history, events have further subjugated others perceived as inferior. Colonialism brought about by invasions of foreign lands, brought about subjugation methods used to promote slavery. Social practices, like patriarchy, instilled in many societies that men held the position of power which brought about the subjugation of women and children. Capitalism, because of foreign invasion and trade practices, further subjugated groups who did not support those practices. Land was a valuable commodity, and those who inhabited the needed land were quickly killed or enslaved so that companies could profit. The Matrix of Domination defines those differences but then asks the audience to find their individual beliefs in determining their beliefs in either being the oppressed or the oppressor.
Based on the matrix teachings, more than one difference will exist in ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, or class before a person develops a sense of privilege. This belief offers fascinating element to the discussion. By understanding the ways in which a person can feel a sense of privilege, it allows people to develop a better sense of one’s self and place in the world. It also helps us identify when privilege is being used against others to subjugate them. These practices will also identify the personal use of privilege against practices of discrimination to better define every person’s value as being diverse but equal. More importantly, it provides a voice for all groups to have a place in the discussions where people with power and privilege have previously not allowed. By doing so, it provides a more equal setting where each group is represented with fair and just laws and practices that promote equality rather than subjugation.
Ferber, Abby; Jimenez, Christina; Herrera, Andrea; Samuels, Dena. The Matrix Reader: Examining the Dynamics of Oppression and Privilege. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2009. VitalBook file.
Johnson, Allan G. “Matrix of Domination.” Sage Knowledge. N.p., 15 Sept. 2007. Sat. 18 Jun 2014.