The definition of the matrix of domination as it is explained by Patricia Hill Collins is the interlocking system of oppression based on race, class, and sexuality. The Matrix of Domination was developed as a concept to represent the fact that to truly understand oppression we must understand its counter position of privilege (Women and Gender Studies). I will explore how identity politics (Civil rights, Feminism, and the LGBT movement) and the oppressive system that makes it more difficult for minorities to gain and maintain equal footing. I begin with African American civil rights and the oppressive system of slavery and the lingering effects which can still be felt to this day. We all know who held the privilege and benefited from slavery, the white antebellum societies of the south.
The southern states and in particular white men who were willing to divide into two warring factions to preserve their position of power and privilege over those of African descent. One of the ways they did this was by using fear and intimidation and murder. Another way was by not allowing them knowledge. Knowledge is power so slaves were not allowed to learn to read. Malnutrition was another way of maintaining control. By all accounts, slaves were fed just enough to be strong enough to work and were constantly hunger. What is true is that the African American has still yet to recover fully from the system of slavery and many of the tactics that were used back then have been modified and still used today. Since the end of slavery African American’s have still been systematically discriminated against rather it is the system of Jim Crow, housing discrimination, job discrimination, lack of educational opportunities, or a justice system slanted against them. This country has made some progress, but we still have a long way to go.
I move now to feminism in a system that still to this day refuses to pay women doing the same jobs as their male counter parts equally. In a system designed to preserve white male dominates women of every ethnic group and cultural background had struggled to find their way in the workplace. Certainly, there have been times when women dominated the work market during times when the country was at war and there was a lack of man power to do the available jobs. Those jobs were filled by women, but when the wars ended and the men returned home women were often fired or given menial positions for less pay. Although things have improved, but not nearly enough. There are still too many instances where women have been passed over or viewed as not smart or strong enough to do higher paying jobs. We have made up some distance regarding women and pay equality with President Obama signing as his first piece of legislation as president “Fair Pay Restoration Act” inspired by Lily Ledbetter.
I move now to the LGBT movement. Many have equated the LGBT movement with that of the civil rights movement. I agree that both African Americans and people in the LGBT community have faced many of the same discrimination in a system designed to minimize their power rather it be housing discrimination, equal civil rights and questions of gender identity. Unlike African Americans who can marry whom ever they choose and are able to leave benefits behind for their spouses, this is a battle many people in the gay community are still waging. The matrix of domination as responsive to human agency. Such thought views the world as a dynamic place where the goal is not merely to survive or to fit in or to cope; rather, it becomes a place where we feel ownership and accountability (Collins).
Collins, P. H. (1990). Black Feminist Thought in the Matrix of Domination. Retrieved from http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/252.html
WOMEN AND GENDER STUDIES. Retrieved 2017, from http://wmst.gmu.edu/center/publications