Deep in my misspent youth lies a well-spent summer in Port Sudan on the Red Sea, where I had the good fortune to have all my belongings stolen. I spent about a month working on ships during the day and hanging around the docks in the evening.
The docks were mostly worked by a people called the Hadendowa (these turned out to be Kipling's "fuzzy wuzzies"), and I remember that the stevedore Hadendowa walked with an amazing stoop--they looked like some of the overloaded steamers coming through the Suez Canal. But what was truly amazing about this list was that when you put a sixty kilogram sack of rice or a bag of concrete between their shoulder blades, they suddenly looked as graceful as...well, not as a ballerina, I admit. But a lot more graceful than you or I would look with carrying our own weight in cement.
As (the other) David says, the example catches attention more than the principle. But the principle, if I understand correctly, is this: adapting to a social condition is really very different from adapting to a medical one, and it is the former, not the latter, that we mean we talk about oppression. But the PERCEPTION (either of the observer or of the subject) is not omni-relevant in either condition. Perceptions are, after all, part of the adaptation.
(By the way, eric, the last time I visited the place I was born and grew up in the Twin Cities, the black housing project, which was segregated from our neighbourhood by a chain link fence, was chiefly inhabited by Hmong and Somali refugees. The chain link fence was still there, though.)
Seoul National University of Education
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