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Welcome! In this bulletin, we will be discussing the topic of Internalization – both through dominance and oppression. The sections of this bulletin are a little different than other bulletins. You'll find definitions, a chart of phrases that demonstrate both internalized domination and internalized oppression, and a video that documents the microaggressions that NCCJ students deal with.  


Internalization: A process through which we come to identify parts of our culture as parts of ourselves, especially in relation to norms and values. This is a crucial process in maintaining social systems because it leads people to regulate their own behavior in accordance with accepted forms rather than having to be monitored and corrected by external authorities.

Internalized Dominance: When members of the agent group accept their group’s socially superior status as normal and deserved.

Internalized Oppression: When people are targeted, discriminated against, or oppressed over a period of time, they believe and make part of their self-image; their internal view of themselves, the myths and misinformation that society communicates to them about their group. Internalized oppression can have very negative results - self-hatred, depression, confusion of identity, disconnection from one's own culture, etc.

Target or Oppressed Identities: Social groups that are negatively valued, considered to be inferior, abnormal, or dependent and given limited access to resources and social power.

Agent or Privileged Identities: Social groups that are positively valued considered superior, independent, or “normal” and have access to resources and power.

Oppression: A systematic act based on the perceived and real differences among social groups that involve ideological domination, institution control and enforced culture up on the oppressed group.


Below are statements you might hear that reinforce a person’s agent or target identity as being “deserved” and “right.” These are statements you MAKE as someone with Internalized Dominance – which means you belong to the privilege or agent group. Statements like these are microaggressions that reinforce oppression of the target group, and demonstrate that the speaker has internalized their dominant, privileged position in society.

Sexism - You might hear these statements from men.

  • “That’s a man’s job, shouldn’t you be baking or something?”
  • “You throw like a girl.”
  • “Do you need help lifting that? It looks heavy.”

Racism - You might hear these statements from white people.

  • "Wow, you are so articulate."
  • “My kids would have a much easier time getting into college if they were minorities.”
  • “You're not like other [people of your race]."
  • "I'm not racist! I have a friend that is a person of color."
  • "I don't see color, we're all humans."

Classism - You might hear these statements from someone who belongs to the upper/upper-middle class.

  • “They’re just taking the government’s money.”
  • “Oh, you shop there?”
  • “They just need to work harder. This is America, anyone can make it here.”

Cissexism - You might hear these statements from cisgender people.

  • “Are you getting 'the surgery'?”
  • “Can’t you just pick one – are you a man or a woman?”
  • “You’re a girl, why would I call you he?”

Ableism - You might hear these statements from people without disabilities.

  • “Why can’t we just park in the handicapped spot? No one is using it.”
  • “You’re acting really retarded right now.”
  • "You inspire me."
  • "She suffers from ___" / "He's a victim of ___"
  • "Great job doing that on your own!"

Heterosexism - You might hear these statements from heterosexual/straight people.

  • “Being gay is a choice.”
  • “Do you have a boyfriend (to a woman)?”/ “Do you have a girlfriend (to a man)?”
  • “I don’t want to share a locker room with a gay man, he might check me out.”

Ageism/Adultism – You might hear these statements from people who are between the age of 25 - 55.

  • “You’re too young/old to understand.”
  • “You have so much to learn.”
  • “It's incredible that you've accomplished this at such a young age.”
  • "Gramps", "geezer", "old bag"

Religionism - You might hear these statements from Christians.

  • “Merry Christmas.”
  • “Go back to your country.”
  • “How can you have morals if you don't have a religion?”
  • "You get to miss school for something in your religion? I wish I got to do that.”


Statements you MAKE as someone with Internalized Oppression – which means you belong to that oppressed/targeted group. Statements like these reinforce to this group that they “deserve” to experience oppression or because of their identities they are “not good enough.”

Sexism - You might hear these statements from women.

  • “I’m not good at explaining things.”
  • “I need to lose weight, I look awful in this.”
  • “I don’t like to talk in groups because I don’t want people to think I’m stupid if I’m wrong.”

Racism - You might hear these statements from people of color.

  • “I’m such an Oreo!” “I’m such a Twinkie!”
  • “I just got this new lotion and it whitens your skin.”
  • "My mom's accent is so embarrassing."

Classism - You might hear these statements from people who are poor/working class.

  • “I’m not going to college; I probably won’t graduate from high school, no one in my family has.”
  • "I shouldn't be complaining; there's people out there who have it worse than me."
  • "I don't think rich people should be obligated to share any of their money; they earned it."

Genderism - You might hear these statements from trans people.

  • “No one will ever love me because I’m trans.”
  • “I’m a freak.”
  • “I prefer he/him pronouns, but you can use whatever pronouns you want.”

Heterosexism - You might hear these statements from people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

  • “I get why people wouldn’t want to see gay couples in children’s shows.”
  • “I look too gay today.”
  • “I’m going to hell.”

Ableism - You might hear these statements from people who have a disability. 

  • “I’m not normal like everyone else.”
  • “No one would ever date someone like me.”
  • “I’m too stupid to read out loud.”

Ageism/Adultism - You might hear these statements from people who are under the age of 25 or above the age of 55.

  • I don’t know, I’m just a teenager.”
  • “My voice doesn’t mean anything in this society.”
  • “They won’t hire me because of my age.”

Religionism - You might hear these statements from people who identify with a religion other than Christianity or who do not practice religion.

  • “I don’t mind that people say all Jews are cheap, a lot of them are.”
  • “I don’t wear a hijab because I don’t want people to know I’m Muslim.”
  •  “I never talk about religion because I don’t want people to know I don’t believe in god.”

Here you will find a table that provides further analysis of some microaggressions, including a breakdown of why each statement is a reflection of internalized dominance or internalized oppression. Below is a video that documents NCCJ students’ various experiences with microaggressions.

Microaggressions: Faces of Understanding
Achievement First Hartford High School’s students are no strangers to misconception, stereotypes and unkind words that lead to internalization.

Fri, 9 December 2022